You have been through or witnessed a very traumatic experience… What is your story? Military Service, Abuse, Violence, Near Death, Loss of a Child, Fearing for Your Life? I would like you to tell me about your experience… I am ready to listen.
When a person has an experience like what I have mentioned above, there are things that physically change in our brain. Let me explain it like this. Suppose that you are camping in a trailer. The microwave is running, and somebody just fired up their blow drier and “click”, the electric breaker trips, and the power goes out. Too much electricity for one circuit to handle, so a safety feature is activated to temporarily deal with the problem.
And so it is with you! Your terrifying experience… What you lived through… or what you saw… was TOO much. It was TOO Much for ANYONE, and your brain “Tripped”.
I would first like to explain that your brain “Tripped,” not because of any weakness on your part, or lack of ability to deal with life. It is not even something that you can associate with being your fault. Quite honestly, it is because of how we are wired. It was tripped because what you experienced was too much for any human brain to handle.
This is called Post Traumatic Brain Disorder. Does that make sense? Understanding this diagnosis is not meant to be a label for you to be identified by, but…. its purpose is to direct you towards resetting the breaker, and what you can do to repair what has happened in your brain.
Did you experience something traumatic? If so, I invite you to continue reading.
To me, “Understanding is an essential step toward Fixing.” So, I wanted to hear from people who actually have identified with having PTSD. What’s it like? How did it affect them? Would you like to hear what they have said?
K.P. “It’s constantly looking over your shoulder and having difficulty trusting people… It’s not just something you can walk away from.”
M.T. “Triggers can come from anywhere at any time… a smell, a look/ glance, a vibe, a dream… how someone treats you. You are unable, as hard as you try, to turn it off.”
T.H. “Your body’s here, but your mind is still there. There’s a door and you want to go through it to get away from it, so you do and it leads you right back to that moment. So you just want to stop opening that door. So you just sit in it. But I assure you, one of those doors leads out, my friend.”
H.M. “You know that feeling you get when someone jumps out and scares you and you are on high alert for a few minutes? That alertness never goes away for me.”
W.D. “My nightmares when I’m asleep bleed into my daily life. At times after just getting up I’m unable to differentiate whether I’m awake or asleep. They feel so real, I even experience the physical pain in them. Then while I am at home if someone knocks on my door I could scream and start rocking back and forth.”
J.A. “Having PTSD for me is like being set apart from everyone else, finding fault with everyone you meet, and walking a constant tightrope between fight or flight. The overwhelming feeling of guilt is hard to live with, and no one can convince you otherwise.”
F.F. “I am only a shell of who I used to be. My memory and ability to function have dramatically changed. My personality is even different now. I push the ones that I love away for reasons I don’t even understand. I’m broken.”
Each individual above describes their experience with PTSD in their unique way, but… can you identify with what they are saying? I hope you can, because again… “Understanding is an essential step in Fixing.
Are you ready to “Make this go away”, or at least learn how to manage the negative that comes with PTSD? OK…Let’s start.
You have already started with a big step… Understanding what has happened to you as a result of the trauma you experienced. You are off to an AWESOME start.
This next one is a bit tricky, so, I’ll try to be delicate in explaining it to you. The details of your traumatic experience might very well have been placed in a box, stored away in the back corners of your mind. This is not a bad thing, it is again something that was done to try to protect you from reliving the experience. For now, just know that the box is there… tucked away until it’s the right time to peek inside.
Because this experience is boxed up, there are emotions of anger, depression, anxiety, and mood swings that you might display, but don’t fully understand why you are behaving in such a manner.
When you are ready, and perhaps with the help of someone who understands this, it is very important to open the box and talk about it… because talking about it is a way to begin healing.
I would like to share something very personal with you. I want to do this because I’m now speaking as someone who lived it, and not just a life coach.
My son was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. I was informed of the crash early enough that I arrived at the scene when the paramedics were still working on him. I saw my son broken, and bleeding.
As he was placed in the helicopter, we raced to the hospital to be with him. We were concerned, but our kids getting hurt was a frequent event in our family. “Everything is going to be ok… He’s in good hands now.”
When we got to the hospital, we were led to the ICU and I experienced a very traumatic event. My son was actively dying! The doctors were giving him CPR. I heard the piercing sound of the heart monitor ringing the signal of a “flat-line.” His body raised off of the bed as they shocked his heart.
My wife who was with me let out a noise that I had never heard before. The scream of a broken heart and disbelief. Then, right in front of our eyes… He… Died.
I took that experience and everything associated with it, placed it into my box, and neatly tucked it away. My focus at that moment was getting my family through their traumatic experience caused by his death.
Two years later, I decided to open the box and peek inside. Dealing with the emotions was just what I needed. To get everything I was holding back out! To express how I felt! To share with others just how horrifying that experience was to me! And…To WEAP!
What I discovered by doing this, was that I was not carrying this burden all by myself. I felt as if it was being shared by those who loved me. It seemed to turn the experience into a SAD one, rather than HORRIFYING. Sad was and still is manageable. Horrifying and not dealing with it was just too much for me to handle, and the reason that it was boxed up.
An important thing here. To me, just talking about it was more helpful than following the loving advice that was offered by others. I mean that in a very respectful way. I was not looking for answers, just a listening ear from someone that cared about me so that I could talk about it.
So, let’s move on now to other helpful fixes. I again wanted to hear from those who lived with PTSD, and what treatments they tried that worked for them. Here are just a few:
S.W. “I have had three Acupuncture treatments that have helped me so much. Acupuncture is activating my parasympathetic nervous system (the rest/digest system) which is calming my sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight system).”
D.J. “What I found most helpful was therapy. It’s very painful and difficult at first but a necessary step for me personally. I took medication to supplement the therapy and make living day to day easier. The mood stabilizer Lamotrigine was very helpful to me. Therapy and mood stabilizers didn’t fix everything, but I learned coping skills that have helped me survive.”
L.S. “I tried LSD which I have done twice now. There are studies on how micro-dosing LSD can help with mental illness immensely. I would not take this option/ path without heavy research. It’s been three years now and for all three years I have been lifted from the weight of PTSD.”
W.J. “My healing accelerated significantly when I took on a hobby (leathercraft) and spent time focusing my mind and hands on constructive and creative activities that gave me peace and joy. During this time, I found that my brain was able to relax and process thoughts and feelings on more of a subconscious level.”
T.L. “The first thing that helped was accepting it and learning to discuss my thoughts and feelings so that they don’t get buried and smothered by “what-if” scenarios. Sometimes (most times) the fear and perceptions in my head are 100% worse than what they are in real life and person-to-person conversations about our feelings are the only way to understand that.”
S.M. “Accepting that you have it is the first step, but even more important is understanding that it is a normal reaction to a traumatic event.”
K.M. “I have been having EMDR therapy, and it’s working wonderfully!”
(Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new, nontraditional type of psychotherapy. It’s growing in popularity, particularly for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD often occurs after experiences such as military combat, physical assault, rape, or car accidents.)
So, I hope that this information has been helpful. I am not your medical doctor, and I’m also not instructing you to do these things. My intent with this post is to help you understand what is going on in your mind, and what others have done to manage this condition, allowing them to find some peace.
I do hope that this has inspired you to pursue some things that perhaps you had not considered. Through your efforts, I pray that you can find a brighter day in your life. I love and care about all of you… because… “Helping, that when healing occurs!”
Peace… Go and get yours.