Your Brain & PTSD

I think I’ve gone on many times about how Bessel van der Kolk took PTSD and made it far more understandable for me.

I spent years asking, “Why me?” and no therapist I saw could explain it, instead the message inadvertently reinforced, was that it was somehow a failing of how I was behaving and reacting.

Certainly, the workers compensation people’s exasperation with my not getting better, completely exacerbated those secondary psychological issues like depression and anxiety, thus locking me in a viscous Catch-22 situation.

I was repeatedly coached to try to think differently about a disruptive image, to try to control my reactions and the more I failed to conform to what was expected of me, the more I saw myself as defective and the greater my depression became.

In Van der Kolk I found an explanation that, as a medic, appealed to my knowledge of my organic nature as a human being. Again, I’ve said this a million times over the last decade, “It felt like something went wrong in my brain, not my mind.” This degree of incapacity was not just simply a function of my psychology; I always held fast that what was happening in my brain was affecting my psychology, so in that way, psychological therapy was beneficial to treat the secondary symptoms but it never cleared up the cause, only seeming to scratch the surface of the “Why?”

Bessel’s research has helped me to shift and dissolve the self blame cycle I was stuck in. This is merely a failing of my “on board computer”, it’s not me, it’s not my fault and over time (a bloody long time) the brain will work to repair itself.

Your symptoms will abate and by using techniques that target, reinforce and build up “strength” in (and this is a very loose description) your “calming neural pathways” you can combat the hyperactivity in the “excitatory neural pathways”.

You can find a greater sense of control in your life again. The scar may stay for life, it may trigger symptoms at random times now and again but at least you will now know and understand that it’s not your failing.

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