PTSD Recovery Includes Recreating Basic Self-Concepts

I have written several times that I did not discover until 2010 that I had suffered from PTSD since I was a child. I realized this in 2010 when I read a story about a PTSD sufferer, Travis Twiggs,  and the fact that he suffered from “social isolation”. When I was young, I remember my mother telling me that I had no friends. That wasn’t true but it was true that I chose to have few friends. I never understood why I continued to feel separate and different even after 34 continuous years of sobriety. PTSD taught me how to freeze my feelings and lower my expectations of how full life would be. By learning to compartmentalize experiences, I could keep life on a shelf, so to speak.

After that realization, I have begun letting all parts of me come together and I feel so blessed and grateful. I have three  challenges–alcoholism (recovery date Nov/ 24, 1976), depression (1985-but probably most of my life), and now PTSD.

I scan over 50 blogs in feedly.com and am so thankful for the brave souls who write about their recovery experiences.

1. In her blog, Being Sober, Mary Christine writes: “June 7” :

“It was 30 years ago that I was raped. If you would have told me then that I would still have this date engraved in my soul thirty years later, I would not have believed it. But my life was irrevocably changed that night. (I wrote about it in depth here.)”

“Two years ago I was suffering terribly from PTSD from the rape and underwent therapy for it. It was immensely helpful. And just sitting here tonight, about to go to bed, I am brought to tears remembering. I was asked to name a “safe place” before we began the therapy. I thought it was lame, but the best safe place I could come up with was my own bedroom. My own bed. In all of its glorious whiteness, the crisp white sheets, the white duvet, the white duvet cover, all bleached, ironed, and starched. The window open and the sheers floating on a warm breeze.”

“This is exactly the safe place that I get to fall into in a moment. This is no dream. This is my reality today. I have a safe place to lay my head.”

“And if you are an alcoholic woman, you may know what a miracle this is.”

“God has blessed me so abundantly. I am so grateful to be sober. I am so grateful for the beautiful life I have today.”

2. From Alexis Rose: “Dear Symptoms, Please Go Away“:

There is a saying: “PTSD: It’s not the person refusing to let go of the past, but the past refusing to let go of the person.” That saying is a simple way for me to understand that try as I might, there are reasons my PTSD symptoms sometimes still have a firm chokehold on me. The list can be long depending on the time of year and triggers.

Autumn is beautiful and just started here in the Midwest. Blue skies and Vermillion colored trees often coexist with 70 degrees temperatures. This time of year, from late August until it snows represents trigger, after trigger for me. While I can appreciate the wonderful weather, the long season can be challenging with prolonged symptoms and what can seem like constant symptom management. If only my PTSD understood the calendar, and I could time my flashbacks to happen on certain calendar dates, instead of seasons. That would be awesome!

There are days when the triggers and symptoms management leave me exhausted and feeling like I’m a burden to my family and close friends. I spend most of the time finding ways to work on distress tolerance, and grounding when the autumn winds blow. I was feeling terribly guilty one day about my level of functioning, until my wonderful boss said to me, “It’s okay that you’re feeling this way right now.” Suddenly, I felt less guilty and more accepting of what was happening to me. I could roll with the symptoms instead of feeling like I was failing myself, my family, my friends, and my boss.

I’m sharing my three most frustrating symptoms. Perhaps some of you will relate to them, and for others, maybe they can provide an understanding if you know or have heard of someone with PTSD. I bank on the fact that how the symptoms look today, will not be how they look in the future. As I continue the process of healing and acceptance, I have already noticed that my symptoms are not as powerful as they used to be, but they are definitely still part of my life.”

More.

3.  From Marty: “I did not think my PTSD would return.“:

“I did not think my PTSD would return.

I also, did not think I could heal, could feel inner peace, could be worthy, but I did.

Then a prescribed blood pressure med, or more accurately its side effect, ignited my nervous system and old triggers.

I did not think my mind would dissociate so easily without constant awareness.

My judgments of healing and mindfulness dreamed of a euphoric life, of few negative thoughts, fewer unworthy images and an easy, happy existence.

In reality, my life has changed dramatically but the adversity and daily challenges test my centeredness and calm.

It truly is a journey, a journey with daily choices.

I could be sad, could be depressed at times. My meditation practice gives me a choice, be present, neutral and calm or suffer.

I still have worry and doubt at times. Worry creeps in stealthily, unbeknownst to me at first, then I catch  negative emotions arriving.

I feel loss at times, then know it is a judgment, air unless I give it power.

Gratitude, humility and giving are the tools I use to counter my “Ego’s” need for control.

I did not think it would be so challenging, so hard, so harsh after so much work.

My abusive childhood, my violent, critical upbringing, has left deep ruts in my subconscious.

At least now, my “Ego” sits in the back seat of my car.

It is not perfect but no one said it would be.

I am grateful I have tools to make good choices.”

 

6 comments

      • Good answer

        I try to inspire

        I run a mindfulness group for NAMI and the hardest thing for people is change

        Practicing mindfulness 15 minutes a day is near impossible for most

      • I think most of us are afraid that if we get silent inside, we will face our terrible demons. The exact opposite is what really happens. We don’t find ourselves without inner silence. We learn to respect and revere ourselves.

      • You have faced your demons and taken action

        I agree

        Sitting alone, quietly focusing is scary for most

        I fought my demons cognitively at first

        That failed miserably

        Surrendering to my fears
        Accepting me as I am
        And letting go was my path

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