We are in a period where a lot of Rwandans are stricken with the memory of what happened in 1994. For many, these horrible memories lead to trauma which can be hard to deal with. Recovering from trauma is a process that takes time.
The process of healing might not necessarily mean forgetting the traumatic events that one experienced but it means the ability to ably cope with the bad memories and feelings.
According to Gerald Ruzindana, a counselor and therapist with Health Inspirations Center based in Kimironko, traumatic reactions include nightmares, recollections of the traumatic experience, feelings of panic or terror, insomnia, rage and grumpiness among many others. He advises that when one is going through such reactions, they should never isolate themselves from other people, saying that isolation only triggers dreadful memories.
“Someone going through a traumatic experience should always be around the people that care and love them. This will keep their minds off the bad memories,” he says. He further advises that keeping oneself busy is also a therapy for trauma.
Engaging in work-related or other fun/leisure activities distracts the mind off the thoughts and reactions that cause trauma thus keeping one in a good mood, according the counselor.
However, he observes that if some reactions are severe then it’s better to seek the help of a psychologist or professional counselor.
According to Mary Anne Mutala, a church counselor with True Vine Church, Kabeeza, a traumatised person shouldn’t be treated like they are sick or very fragile lest it makes them feel like they really have a big problem.
“Traumatised people should be allowed to freely interact, keep in the company of others and participate in home chores or work-related activities”, Mutala says.
She adds that someone who is traumatized should always accept the reality of whatever happened and have a positive attitude towards life knowing that things will always get better.