As we close out yet another year, we find ourselves reflecting, making resolutions and promising ourselves that we will change for the better. And we can try…
There is certainly no harm in trying something new. Trying is a success unto itself. Trying is the manifestation of courage. Trying is expanding your zone of limitations. Trying is what keeps us hopeful and hope is what keeps us alive.
I was told very early in my experiences with PTSD that I could never be the person I was ever again, that I should mourn that person and become acquainted with this “new” person. I think what the message should have conveyed was that the person I am at my core had not changed and all of the fear, the physiological chaos that was going on in my body that left me feeling so disconnected, was merely temporary.
You see, when I was told I could never be the same person I’d always known my entire life, that core me that experienced things and evolved and learned, I was in the grips of the tumultuous experience of immediate post traumatic stress. That is a phase of great physiological interruption, a phase where your very brain is so preoccupied trying to regulate and interpret responses to its environment that it has no ability to attend to the “frivolity” of new learning.
Let’s put it simply, my brain was in shock. It suddenly found itself in a version of the movie Groundhog Day, only this version was a horror movie where horrible things replayed over and over and my poor brain was in a constant state of defense trying to protect me against unseen threats.
It settles. It takes a long time but eventually that chaos settles. For some that process will be much longer than for others. It’s been 12 years since my trauma, in that time I’ve endured more trauma and grief which have severely complicated my recovery. My recovery involved sanctuary trauma, stigma, and battling against a severe lack of social support. Through it all I held onto the belief that I was still the same person at my core that I had always been; my Self was still there buried somewhere under chaos trying to get clear again.
I am still that person.
I look at the world differently now because of my experiences; my perception has evolved but my physiology still reacts inappropriately to threat or misinterprets daily occurrences as threats, just not nearly as visibly or as often as it used too – it is still a work in progress.
It’s been a huge learning curve; re-learning how to control my physiology again. It’s biology, neuroscience and psychology all entwined. It’s like untangling a jumble of cords and seeing how they’re supposed to connect then working to reconnect everything. It’s a slow process but there is light at the end of that tunnel. I’m still working to untangle a lot of the mess but at least now, I can function. I can hope. I can see.
I think somewhere along this complex journey, I plugged in a lamp.
PTSD is not a death sentence. It’s merely an evolution of your Self, so promise me this one little thing for 2021, that you’ll hang in there and that no matter what it is, or how insignificant it may seem at the time, you will Try something.
Trying is half the battle.