PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is a loosely thrown around term applied to anyone who has suffered from any sort of traumatic even in their life that has caused extreme stress that in turn effects their current life because they can’t move past it.
This is not me saying “get over it.” I have plenty of friends who have been in combat and who wake from night terrors, sometimes with their hands around a loved one’s throat. Friends that you have to wake from a distance with a long stick for fear of being thrown the ground and possible dispatched of before that person actually gains consciousness. People who have problems with fire crackers or car backfire, or hunting with friends due to the sound of gun fire, or who have a plethora of other triggers that can cause them to lose their shit or withdraw. My first inclination here… and maybe I am swayed by George Carlin, is to call that “Shell Shock.” I mean really…. I think that is a much simpler and more descriptive term when talking about our fine military veterans, based on my observation of those I know that suffer from this. I’m not addressing those people with Shell Shock. I can’t relate to that. I’ve never been blown up or had a gun fired at me. I’ve run for my life from someone. I’ve seen people die. But it’s not the same. Very much NOT the same.
But in the rest of the population…. PTSD is now applied to everyone who seems to be having an issue dealing with the stresses of life. I want to make something super clear to anyone reading this…. LIFE IS STRESSFUL. Seriously. Did someone tell you that this was going to be a fucking cakewalk? Because if they did, please send them my way so that I can slap the stupid out of them for ruining you.
Again…. I am not saying “get over it.” What I am saying is that somehow, over time, someone decided that we no longer have to learn how to cope with stress. Which is completely asinine. Let me repeat this…. LIFE IS STRESSFUL. You have to deal with stress all day long. That stress will come in the form of another person or a situation that was created by someone else (which is partially out of your control) or by yourself (which is totally in your control).
Really, I think it’s all about how you cope. What is your coping mechanism? How do you process your stress? Is it negative or positive? Do you have an outlet? It’s about being mindful about you and what’s around you. And once you can get into that mindset, what you do with that knowledge. And I don’t mean being mindful just right now for a minute. I mean practice mindfulness every minute of everyday. What is happening right now and how does it make you feel and what is your reaction to that? Is that something you can change? Is it something you can take control of?
We are trainable. The problem is we allow ourselves to get stuck in this place that we have been trained to stay stuck in. Trained by society, by our parents, by our teachers, by our experiences, by our loved ones, by our own thoughts that have been shaped by all the aforementioned things. Learning to train ourselves doesn’t mean “get over it.” It means we are stronger than all of those things that have shaped us. We are resilient. Each moment of pain or loss or fear has shaped us and taught us something about ourselves and the world around us. And we can use that to our own benefit. “It’s not easy,” you say. No shit, Sherlock. LIFE IS STRESSFUL. Nothing worth doing is easy. Think about that as you go through your day wishing for a different life. NOTHING WORTH DOING IS EASY. Until it is. And once it is easy…. then you have mastered it and can move on to the next thing.
Why am I talking about this? I’ve had some “professionals” state that I “suffer” from Broken Heart Syndrome or that I have PTSD attached to my domestic violence relationships, attached to fear of abandonment. That may be true. I’ve also had them tell me that it is the very outlook that I have described above that makes me the most well adjusted person to ever sit in their office. I am not going to say that I “suffer” although at times I suppose it could be called that. It is a suffering of my own design because I have yet to figure out the appropriate and most effective way for me to tackle some of the issues that I face emotionally and mentally because of my past experiences. Experiences that I chose to be in (unknowingly, but chose to be in none the less). We cannot know the future. I’m talking about this because I had a visit from a friend this weekend for the purpose of going to classes for a hobby we both have an interest in… we are kind of both in the same/but different space in our lives. But we are friends. And I am fond of this person. And it made me start to think about my fears and insecurities and what shaped them and how they affect me now in relation to the relationships that I form.
My advice? 1) Don’t beat yourself up over it. The past is the past. You can’t go back and change it. Yes…. it hurts. Yes, it made scars. Yes, you might still be bleeding.
Here’s the great part about having people all around you. Every where you look… lots of people. Find some good ones. There are lots of us. Don’t find them to fix you. Find people that will guide you. That will give you a hand up when you fall. That will check in on you when you become distant. Those are the people you want in your life. Also… make sure you do the same for them. Sometimes you feel like you can’t… but you can. And it actually helps you to do so.
2) Service. Like I mentioned above, do for others what you need them to do for you. Don’t do it with the expectation that they will reciprocate. If you do, you may find yourself very disappointed. But this is how you find the right people to have in your life. They are there for you, you are there for them. Win Win.
3)Find things to do that interest you. Start doing them alone if you have to. There are groups everywhere. Go to events even if you don’t feel like going. When friends invite you to do things….go. Surround yourself with people who are like you. Why? Because they understand. And that’s the big thing. They understand. I don’t mean a support group. I never really found that to be helpful. It might be for you… and if that’s the case, then by all means, do it. But for me, I find that there are people that are like me that are striving to overcome or have overcome the things that I am already fighting with. They have good insight. And they are an excellent distraction. In a support group you are surrounded mostly by people that are currently going through what you are. In a normal setting… you generally get a good mix of currently going through or been there, done that, overcame it. At least I find that I do.
This has not been easy. It’s not currently easy. I deal with depression, fear, insecurity, and a plethora of other negative crap. Guess what? We all do. Because LIFE IS STRESSFUL. Don’t “get over it.” Deal with it. Take it by the balls and show it who is boss. It will be slow. It will be tedious. It will be hard. It will be a constant battle. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to reach out in your effort to overcome. But don’t whine about it…. unless you have cheese. Wine is ok with cheese. =) You’re only a victim if you choose to stay a victim. I’m telling you to fight. Fight tooth and nail. Fight as though your very life depends on it. Because it does. Are you living? Or are you just breathing and watching life happen around you?
Thanks for reading. I’d enjoy it if people shared their “coping mechanisms” or their experience in their battle and how it’s going. I’m with you.