Connect with Wendy on Facebook Subscribe to RestoryYourLife.com

Do you have PTSD?

Many people have PTSD but don’t know it. I was talking recently to an old friend that I hadn’t seen for over thirty years and describing some of the symptoms of PTSD–the hypervigilance, recurring nightmares, panic attacks, heart racing, the hyperactive amygdala–when she broke in, exclaiming, “That sounds like me!”   I can’t tell you how often this happens in talking to people about PTSD.  Many of us are walking around with burdens that we could set down if we only knew that we were carrying them.

Who might we be without our PTSD?  Is it an inextricable part of our personalities because it has shaped who we are and how we have behaved? Is it a condition that has skewed (or skewered) our development, stunting or mis-shaping our personalities? If I were a tree and PTSD was the fence that was built offensively close, did I grow through the barrier that was blocking my way so that the fence is now inextricably part of me, or should the fence be extricated from my branch in order for me to thrive and be the tree I was meant to be?

The truth is, as we cope with PTSD symptoms, we become more fully ourselves. As we relax hypervigilance or calm ourselves in the midst of a panic attack and allow ourselves to understand the catalyst for the uncomfortable feelings, we become whole. As we risk leaving old patterns behind, we are more of the tree we were meant to be. In coping with PTSD consciously, an enormous opportunity presents itself. With our new awareness, we can say to ourselves, oh I’m in one of my PTSD moments. Understanding floods in. Compassion for self follows. Often, one hears oneself say,  I make sense!  I  fit in with the universe!

We can make our way to a place of power, relief, and joy. For while no one would have wanted the event that caused the PTSD to happen in the first place, it did. Someone built a fence too close. But in claiming ownership of it, its power over us diminishes. A few times in the midst of a panic attack, I’ve even heard myself say Oh, it’s that again and breathed my way through it with relative ease. Self-awareness is the “axe that breaks free the frozen sea within.”  *

*from a quote of Franz Kafka’s

0 Responses to Do you have PTSD?

  1. Thank you for this. I remember when I first heard you speak of PTSD, I thought the same thing, that it sounded an awful lot like me. But then I questioned myself. Isn’t PTSD for victims and survivors of far worse atrocities then I have ever experienced, like the realities of war? Well, when I did some research, I found that anyone who has repeatedly seen the trauma of a person or has had repeated trauma/violation done to them can suffer from PTSD. Just witnessing or experiencing one traumatic incident that violates the safe boundary of the body can set you up to have PTS symptoms. When viewed this way, the popular understanding of PTSD really blew open for me, and I suddenly understood so much of my own severe neurosis I have had about the safety of my body (I witnessed many invasive and often violating treatments done on my younger sister during her extensive stay in hospitals for over twenty years. I wasn’t even the patient, yet I have been so hurt and effected by what I have seen. It changed me. Forever)
    Even though I was never diagnosed with PTSD, when I starting putting this awareness toward things like being neurotic and fearful to not be in control of my own body and having an extreme startle response, I noticed that the awareness started to heal me. I think anyone who has been through long term hospital stays and has experienced something fearful or hurtful should consider viewing their experience through the PTSD lens. If nothing else, its a great way to bring that awareness to your own healing that doesn’t just end when you check out of the hospital. Its easy to forget that, especially when the hospital is suppose to be the place where we are healed.

  2. Thank you for this. I remember when I first heard you speak of PTSD, I thought the same thing, that it sounded an awful lot like me. But then I questioned myself. Isn’t PTSD for victims and survivors of far worse atrocities then I have ever experienced, like the realities of war? Well, when I did some research, I found that anyone who has repeatedly seen the trauma of a person or has had repeated trauma/violation done to them can suffer from PTSD. Just witnessing or experiencing one traumatic incident that violates the safe boundary of the body can set you up to have PTS symptoms. When viewed this way, the popular understanding of PTSD really blew open for me, and I suddenly understood so much of my own severe neurosis I have had about the safety of my body (I witnessed many invasive and often violating treatments done on my younger sister during her extensive stay in hospitals for over twenty years. I wasn’t even the patient, yet I have been so hurt and effected by what I have seen. It changed me. Forever)
    Even though I was never diagnosed with PTSD, when I starting putting this awareness toward things like being neurotic and fearful to not be in control of my own body and having an extreme startle response, I noticed that the awareness started to heal me. I think anyone who has been through long term hospital stays and has experienced something fearful or hurtful should consider viewing their experience through the PTSD lens. If nothing else, its a great way to bring that awareness to your own healing that doesn’t just end when you check out of the hospital. Its easy to forget that, especially when the hospital is suppose to be the place where we are healed.

  3. PTSD awareness heals. Wow! Thanks so much, LIz. Just the awareness itself can heal. Brilliant! I’m so glad you took the time to respond to my post. I’ve learned so much, and I think readers will gain a lot from what you’ve said.

  4. PTSD awareness heals. Wow! Thanks so much, LIz. Just the awareness itself can heal. Brilliant! I’m so glad you took the time to respond to my post. I’ve learned so much, and I think readers will gain a lot from what you’ve said.

  5. You are so right, Wendy: Liz has taught me a few new things too about PTSD. I am also very glad that you have used your wonderful illustrative imagination to give us that picture of the tree having to deal with the encroaching fence. I know I’ll never get the fence completely out of my system, but a lot of its timbers have decayed with the work I’ve done for growth. And there is such a rich variety of ways in which we can work to dissolve the intrusion, from fostering personal awareness to professional therapy. May that work continue so that we continue to grow in our self-acceptance and can feel increasingly confident in dealing with the fence’s remaining splinters.

  6. You are so right, Wendy: Liz has taught me a few new things too about PTSD. I am also very glad that you have used your wonderful illustrative imagination to give us that picture of the tree having to deal with the encroaching fence. I know I’ll never get the fence completely out of my system, but a lot of its timbers have decayed with the work I’ve done for growth. And there is such a rich variety of ways in which we can work to dissolve the intrusion, from fostering personal awareness to professional therapy. May that work continue so that we continue to grow in our self-acceptance and can feel increasingly confident in dealing with the fence’s remaining splinters.

  7. I love thinking of the PTSD as “splinters.” Your reply to LIz has brought me confidence and hope that the symptoms of PTSD will indeed diminish over time. Your support is invaluable. Knowing that we are both healing from PTSD brings me peace and comfort. Recovering is so much easier with a wise and supportive buddy like you.

  8. I love thinking of the PTSD as “splinters.” Your reply to LIz has brought me confidence and hope that the symptoms of PTSD will indeed diminish over time. Your support is invaluable. Knowing that we are both healing from PTSD brings me peace and comfort. Recovering is so much easier with a wise and supportive buddy like you.

Leave a reply