PLEASE NOTE I AM NOT A DOCTOR, THERAPIST OR COMBAT VETERAN. I AM A GIRL WITH MY OWN UNIQUE PERSONAL UNDERSTANDING OF PTSD AND THAT IS THE BASIS OF THIS BLOG.
FOR FURTHER BASIC MEDICAL INFO ON PTSD: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd
Living with PTSD can be manageable.
Some people think that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become so "common" that it's now just a term that people throw out about themeselves to gain some form of sympathy or compassion.
The rest of us know it's a very real disorder that affects millions of us.
In layman terms, it's a mental disorder that comes when we go through something so traumatic that our brain kind of stops in that moment and gets stuck. Once it gets stuck, it's beyond hellacious to "unstick it." And most of the time, we don't know that our brain got stuck, which can make moving through it impossible for a long time. There's not a pill to take to 'get over it' and it's something we have to learn how to live with and learn how to manage our triggers.
For some, it takes just one big juicy event to cause PTSD to kick in. For others, like me, it's a string of events that take place over a lifetime that culminate and feed on each other that wind up resulting in PTSD. In my case, it came from never finding my own coping skills to deal with traumatic events from a young age and into my adulthood. (Which in turn led to an awesome road of self-destructive idiocy.)
I was not thrilled to have more than one person diagnose me.
I believe PTSD affects each person differently. We are all different to begin with, so I personally don't know that every person who has it has the same "brand" or intensity, etc.
One of the biggest tribulations is managing triggers. I've known several combat veterans with varying degrees of PTSD and several civilians--also with varying degrees. And I don't know that anyone has perfected the art of managing triggers.
Living with PTSD is a pain in the ass. Some days everything is peachy and wonderful. Some days, it's as if I've been hit in the head with a rock. Since I am not one to take meds or any of that, I get to experience fully feeling everything.
A few of the triggers on my end include: Feeling trapped, being hit with a situation in which I feel helpless, feeling physically threatened and being opressed with intense negative energy from other people. In turn, I wind up losing sleep, being incredibly irritable for no solid reason, wicked nightmares and random anxiety attacks that spring from the ether.
I won't lie-there's plenty of times I've not managed well. As it turns out, I've had this for several years without knowing. It's only been on my conscious mind the last three years, after I had two different people diagnose me and that I have damn as near every symptom from a flippin' textbook.
I realized I'd been through enough hell.
I started to work on my "stuff." I got rid of my last and final insane abusive relationship and bought a kicking bag to work out extraneous aggression. I quit smoking. I let go of everyone in my life that didn't feed my higher good. I totally lost my mind for a while. It was like being a prison of myself. I thought taking these measures would make it all good and make everything go away. As it turned out, my body and mind were COMFORTABLE in hell. WHAT?? Yeah. It's amazing what we tell ourselves is ok. Over time, we believe ourselves. The point is, I could change all my outer life all I wanted.
But I hadn't considered how much had to change inside.
Believe it or not, I quit therapy. Talking endlessly about the past was never going to change the past, and I figured if I could figure out how to change my belief about my present and fling my perception around and see things differently... That might help more.
Enter my doing a ton of yoga. And I do mean a ton. Sometimes 2 or 3 classes a day.
In came spending more time by myself and not wasting time with crazy makers. There were weekends when I would just go hiking and go to yoga class and not really talk to anyone. I went full IN so I could figure a way OUT. (Thank you, Yoga Shelter, for that thought provoking gem!)
And slowly, I crawled out of hell. And I do mean SLOWLY. And sometimes, when triggers present themselves, I will dip in and visit hell. But it's brief. And it's not as crashing down hard anymore. Like I said, it never fully goes away.
It was like getting out of prison by going into the depth of prison and finding the hard way out.
My sharing of this very personal story came from a conversation I had this past weekend with a two-tour Iraqi War Vet. We talked about how PTSD is one of those little talked about things and how it doesn't go away and how we have to fight to manage our triggers. It dawned on me that there's zounds of civilians, just like me, who may think there's no hope or that there's no chance of crawling out of hell.
And I think that a lot of people think that once they climb outta hell, that life is going to be this peachy grand party all the time. That is not the case. The truth is we made it out and it's work to stay out. Sometimes, it feels effortless. Sometimes it doesn't.
It's in how we handle these moments that define us. It's in how we handle what happens when we get hit with several triggers at once that make us realize we still have plenty of work at hand.
I don't know about anyone else out there, but I know I've got my work cut out for me for a long time to come. And that's ok. Nobody is perfect.
I'm happy to keep doing the work, because hell is not the hang out joint for this girl. I far prefer the other side.