PTSD: Can you Manage it? - Part 4
A final thought on managing PTSD, addressed to those living with PTSD:
What I’ve learned…..
Some days I think, “I’m cured.” Why do we do that to ourselves? For some reason we look at ourselves as damaged. We are not. Life has thrown us some serious curve balls and we have a new normal to discover. For the longest time I was convinced I had to be my “old self” and anything less would disappoint my loved ones. Well, connecting with my old self was never going to be possible. When I accepted this truth I was able to start the journey to discover *this* Trish. It wasn’t easy or simple….but I’d become sick and tired of the person looking back in the mirror. I longed for a change.
Greatest Discovery….When we invite loved ones in they give us love & grace
We don’t have to navigate this journey alone. For the longest time I believed my demons were my own, there was no way I would burden anyone else. Part of my reaction was due to the severity of my reintegration when I came home, I hurt my family, a lot. We won’t relive those days right now, please know they existed for me too. And sometimes still do. I’ve found more love and grace by sharing my burdens with those closest to me rather than soldiering on and keeping it locked away.
Now, I don’t sit around rehashing things. Instead, I shared my journal from over there. My Gran’s husband told me to keep a journal, so I did. And it took 9 years but I finally shared it with my family. Is there a piece of your story you could share and invite them in?
What helped move me forward….
1- Eliminating Negativity
2- Writing Down Gratitude
3- Immersing Myself in Personal Development.
There’s a process I went through to finally reintegrate and a significant piece was my daily practice of self development. I had no idea what I was doing, just trying to run a business. However, these practices held so much more for me. They were my key to freedom and hope. Every day I wrote down 10 things I was grateful for (most days it was coffee, internet, pen and paper, stuff like that….), listened to business leaders on podcasts, and eventually decided to stop speaking negativity.
6 months. It took 6 months of applying these practices to feel hope again. On days I fear it slipping away I write 20 or 30 things I’m grateful for…..do something nice for another. Hope is a scary feeling when we’ve lost so much. And I’m willing to put all my efforts into creating it so my children and husband will experience hope through me.
Wish I’d known:
I’ll never be my old self. Thank God.
I’m fighting every damn day for our future. My family is way too valuable and I am determined to not fail us. When the darkness crowds my mind and heart I refuse to submit. Those three sentences alone represent how I’m not my old self. First, I’d never use a curse word in a public forum. Second, I used to believe if you were kind and did all the right things life would work out in your favor. My experiences have created a fierce, loving warrior. I didn’t know this until I walked out of my mental prison into the light of hope. Can you imagine doing that for yourself? Stepping into a light of hope, for your life?
One of my favorite resources is a simple composition notebook to log my gratitude entries. The Vet Center was a great experience for therapy 6 months after I entered the civilian world.
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Tips for loved ones:
The greatest gift to me was not feeling like an alien. When my family and friends accepted me as I was, broken and different, it took the pressure off to perform and be someone I wasn’t. Each journey is unique and there is no magic button for moving forward.