Post-Arrest Life: How to Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle After Arrest
Finding yourself in handcuffs is terrifying, overwhelming, and stressful. The process of an arrest, from the initial arrest to jail cell time, and eventually the trial, requires countless hours, days, weeks, or even months of constant emotional toil. These types of traumatic events offer the perfect cocktail that oftentimes leads to the development of unstable psychological states, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).
Understanding Trauma and PTSD
- What is Trauma?
The American Psychological Association defines trauma as, “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster.”
This is a simple explanation for an extremely complicated state of emotional distress. The initial response of a traumatic event generally triggers natural protective instincts including shock and unresponsiveness, as well as denial. These instincts are built to help us survive. They allow the individual to decide between fight or flight and, in the end, find a safe space to then process the aftermath.
- Developing Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Per the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder website, “PTSD, or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood.”
Trauma is the emotional response to a traumatic event and PTSD is the psychological disorder that develops when trauma is not addressed.
The initial protection response mentioned above will inevitably fade. When this happens, it’s incredibly important to confront the emotions that burgeon from beneath the shock and denial. There are serious repercussions for those that don’t address underlying emotional issues. Generally, trauma that is ignored develops into Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or more commonly referred to as PTSD.
- Diagnosing PTSD
PTSD displays in various ways including “unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea.” There are various ways to combat PTSD, but the most efficient way to heal is through guided counseling with a therapist, psychologist, or other trained psychological professional.
While professional psychologists make the official diagnosis, self-education and familiarization with the way PTSD represents is incredibly helpful.
The most common reactions include:
– Intense feelings
– Unpredictable emotions
– Major changes in behavior patterns
– Sensitivity to your environment
– Strain or difficulty in personal relationships (generally family, friends, or an intimate partner)
– Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, chest pain, and the inflammation of preexisting conditions.
– Persistent depression, distress, or hopelessness.
If you experience these symptoms or, as the APA explains, “you feel like you are barely able to get through your daily responsibilities and activities,” it may be time to seek help by consulting a licensed mental health professional.
- Considering Pharmaceuticals
The decision to use pharmaceutical aids to help reduce the symptoms of PTSD should remain exclusively in the hands of you, your primary care physician, and your psychologist. While there are benefits it’s important to understand the negative ramifications. Dependence upon drugs, such as tranquilizers and antidepressants, can drastically reduce quality of life, especially for those already struggling with the obstacles of post-arrest life.
Therefore, while pharmaceuticals are an option, it’s imperative to go through the proper channels by consulting both your physician and psychologist and obtaining a prescription.
Embracing Life After an Arrest
Get Through the Legal System
The most important aspect that leads to a successful post-arrest life is honoring the judicial system. Making sure to acquire a legal representative is incredibly important and helpful. From understanding the reason for your arrest and the language behind the warrant, to acquiring an appropriate bail, and preparing for the trial, a lawyer is not only a legal representative, but also a guide through the system.
Follow the rules!
Be prompt and presentable for all legal proceedings. Rely on the support of family and friends to help ensure bail is obtained in the proper and legal manner. After being released and before your trial, make sure you fully understand the do’s and don’ts. This may include a ban on travel for the time being, resisting urges to return to the scene of the crime, or possibly avoiding certain people.
After the trial, whether you are sentenced to jail time, released with stipulations, or found innocent, it’s vital to address the trauma sustained through the process.
Take a deep breath.
Humans are resilient beings with the capabilities of moving past tragic and traumatic events. Of course, there is work involved. The American Psychological Association offers a host of valuable resources for those looking to recover from a traumatic event including a website called Road to Resilience, which offers education and resources.
There standard tried-and-true steps that can be taken on your own:
- Embrace an adjustment time
- Look to family, friends, or a partner to share your struggles
- Discover support groups in your area and attend them
- Return to healthy activities that you enjoy
- Establish a stable routine
- If possible, don’t make life-changing decisions.
In the end, dealing with trauma comes down to healthy communication. Talk about your experience, voice concerns and struggles, share your internal strife, and, most importantly, realize that there is no shame in sustaining trauma. You are not alone.
Moving Forward: Fill Your Time
Down time poses a great threat for those in the post-arrest stage. Un-scheduled time not only allows you to dwell on the trauma, but it engages self-pity.
Once trauma has been addressed and help is sought, if necessary, it’s important to focus attention on the future. This includes addressing the emotional recovery mentioned above, but it should also include incorporating positive habits and activities and creating a stable environment such as obtaining a steady job, finding a clean, safe place to live, and taking care of your bodily health.
Renewing or discovering a new passion through adult education is an excellent way to combat general trauma, PTSD, and depression. Expand your horizon by challenging your comfort level. Take creative classes or sign up for a workshop class. Delve deeper into a subject that has always intrigued you.
This is also a great opportunity to finish a GED or begin a college degree. An arrest on your record can make it difficult to find an employer. Showing your commitment to bettering yourself and becoming a positive attribute to society goes a long way on your resume.
Find your funny bone again!
Invest in activities or hobbies that nurture creativity and boost the enjoyment of every day. Cater to your healthy passions whether that is painting, writing, cooking, cars, outdoor activities, reading, or any other fulfilling endeavor. Yet, it’s also important to avoid any unhealthy activities that may have led to your initial arrest. For example, if you were arrested for DUI, avoid establishments that serve alcohol like bars and casinos and limit your time with exclusive “drinking buddies”.
Community centers are great places to find affordable group activities, as well as resources such as art rooms, gyms, classes, and events.
Last, but not least, is the importance of addressing personal bodily health. Take time to learn how to cook for yourself. This will not only save money and fill hours in the day, but it also offers a level of control over what you eat. Sign up for a gym, try out a new sport, invest in a bike, or simply fill an hour here and there with a walk to the park or a hike.
Healthy living also includes remaining mentally healthy.
Even if you have addressed emotionally recovery, it’s important to remain steady on your course towards emotional health. Attend group meetings whenever possible. Continue to communicate with family and friends. Keep in touch with your therapist or psychologist. If pharmaceuticals are part of your remedy, make sure to keep regular and seek help if you feel like you may be dependent.
8-Ball Bail Bonds is a fully licensed and insured bail bonds agency located in Las Vegas, Nevada. They offer 24-7 service for clients in need of assistance in stressful and oftentimes overwhelming situations. By tailing services with each client’s individual needs, the highly knowledgeable and educated staff at 8-Ball Bail Bonds is able to provide exemplary and specialized customer service. For more information or to speak with a representative directly, feel free to contact us.