Writers have to be some of the most fearless people I know. They’re the ones that bare their soul, who share ideas, who challenge the norm, and they put it out there for all to see. Lisa, is a great writing friend of mine, someone I have learnt a lot from and really admire. I can tell this post took a lot of courage to write and I hope it inspires you to look back on your own journey and see how far you have come. Please share this post today with your friends. You just never know who needs to hear that they’re not alone.
PTSD Will Not Rule My Life
When Sarah asked me to guest post for her Fearless Fridays, I wasn’t feeling particularly fearless. In fact, I almost said no. In my three decade struggle with PTSD, not that I’ve kept a tally, but my guess is that the victories have been fewer than the defeats.
At least, that’s how it feels.
The thing about PTSD is that it’s not fair or predictable. Two men standing next to each other can experience the exact same traumatic event, and one, both, or neither may struggle with PTSD afterwards. PTSD is our mind/body’s reaction to feeling a total loss of control and lack of hope. Maybe you had no voice, or you were overpowered, or you spoke up and no one heard you. Maybe there was no chance the situation would change or get better.
But PTSD, in a sense, is a toothless monster. Fear is like that.
I’m not a psychologist and I have no formal training beyond raw living and survival, but over time I’ve come to see four very valuable lessons regarding fear and PTSD.
- Talk It Out
This may not be true for everyone, but for me PTSD is a mental battle. I have to think my way out of the darkness. Find someone to talk to. See a professional. It’s not a sign of weakness, in fact it’s the hardest thing you’ll likely ever do — choosing to heal. There are grounding techniques and other things you can learn to help manage it. I have a couple of friends I have a history with who know where I’ve come from and aren’t afraid to keep me rooted in the present. Being reminded that I’m doing better than I did last time is tremendously healing.
Last time you couldn’t speak for two days and hid in your bedroom for five. This time, you took two days off work and you’re talking. That’s a huge step forward.
- Share Your Experience
I have found great healing in sharing my experiences with those who are also struggling through it. Helping others gives meaning to my pain. Helping others gives my pain value. I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor – let me help you pick up your sword.
- Do It Anyway
I spent a lot of years hiding, avoiding, cowering. No more. Men trigger my PTSD. Yep – half of the world’s population. Hard to avoid. So I took a job at a men’s drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre telling their stories. Do the hard thing. Surround yourself with good friends and jump in the deep end. I’ve always been surprised by how strong I actually am, and by how much healing there is in that growth.
What are you afraid of? Go do that.
- Forgive Yourself
It’s a battle that you wage imperfectly, but consistently. You’ll take a few hits and wear some ugly scars, but you’re still fighting. Give yourself credit for the growth and healing you’ve done and do better tomorrow. Dig deep and get to the root of it. As much as there are nights where being numb sounds super appealing that will only add to the healing I have yet to do.
One thing I’ve been too terrified to do is take some kind of self defence classes. Imagine walking into a room with men and not immediately being aware of all the exits, not having to ground yourself every time one of them raises their hand in animated conversation? Having assurance that when someone wearing his cologne walks by, that you could get away. It would be freedom!
I discovered Aikido and it looks like just my thing, but the local dojo/club/group only has co-ed classes and is run by a retired police officer and a retired fireman. Did I mention that they’re MEN and they’re HUGE and to learn you have to let people touch you… lol I’m working on it.