PTSD: Ten Good Things

by Suzanne Grosser

Dealing with your PTSD may be the most difficult thing you ever do. Trauma is devastating and healing is demanding. But this may be the most rewarding and beneficial time you ever spend on yourself. You can experience Post Traumatic Growth. As you work through your pain, confront your fears, and face the truth about life, you will gain some precious things.
You learn who your friends are. These are the people who tried to help you. They listened to you rant when you were angry, held your hand when you were scared, and gave you a tissue when you were sad. These are the people who didn’t dump you even though you were being impossible. These are the ones who got in your face and told you that you were being impossible, even though you didn’t want to hear it. Now that you’re getting better, you realize how grateful you are for them. PTSD has shown you who really cares about you.
You discover the real you. You aren’t a superhero. Damn. You aren’t perfect. Double-Damn. This one really hurts me because I spent most of my life trying to be perfect or at least pretending that I was perfect. Now though, the secret is out, the pressure is off. You don’t have to pretend to be a superhero anymore and I don’t have to pretend to be perfect anymore. Post traumatic stress disorder has cured us of our inflated egos. You gain respect for yourself. You’ve learned how strong you really are. Not superhero strong, but not bad for an imperfect human being with no super powers. You survived this! You are scarred but you survived, and even if you’re still messed up, you are here reading this, which means you are looking for good stuff to come out of it. That is huge! PTSD has shown you the value of the real you. You learn what you really believe. Some people come out of trauma with a deeper faith in religion. Others reject religion all together. For most of us, religion is part of the package of “should’s” and “ought to’s” handed to us as children. We are taught what we “should” believe and what we “ought to” do. Trauma kills the “should’s” and the “ought to’s”. What survives the trauma, whatever serves you well during your agony is worth keeping. Dump the rest. You will clear the way for the truth. If post traumatic stress has taught you anything, it is the value of the truth. You can stop worrying. You can quit worrying about a lot of things, because you have already been there. You don’t have to worry about whether your friends are real friends. You don’t have to worry about being perfect, or a superhero. You don’t have worry if you’re a hypocrite when you sit in a church pew. You don’t even have to worry about being hurt again – because you know that you can survive it. And you know that it won’t destroy the real you. PTSD has made you resilient.

Are You Doing the Right Thing?

If you are in a relationship with a PTSD sufferer, you have asked yourself this question many times. If you are thinking of ending that relationship, there are a lot of questions you should be asking yourself.
You learn what is important to you. A lot of things that you once spent a lot of time and effort on before your trauma, may seem kind of silly to you now. Buying all those clothes or fussing over your hair just to look good at work. Important then. Silly now. Or for you, it could be the opposite: maybe you never put much effort into your appearance. Now you see it as a sign of respect for yourself. Whatever is important you, you now pursue. Post traumatic stress disorder has given you the clarity to respect your own values. You learn who is important to you. And who you should let go of. Some relationships are too painful and too troubled to continue. Let them go. Make time in your life for the people you want to have around you. Thank them for being there. You now have the courage to follow your heart. You become more compassionate. You hid your pain for a long time, didn’t you? So now you know that people can be suffering, yet never show it to those around them. If you could hide your pain so successfully, others can too. So if someone is irritable in the supermarket checkout line, you don’t get irritable back. You smile. Perhaps offer a word of encouragement. At the very least, you smile at the cashier when it’s your turn. See, don’t you like you better already? Post traumatic stress disorder has made you kinder. You are less judgmental. You know what it’s like to judged. You know that things are not always as they seem. You realize that you can never know another person well enough to judge them fairly. You learned these things the hard way. PTSD has made you less rigid and more open-minded. You discover a new purpose for your life. Trauma smacks you around, spins your life in new directions. Some of those directions you might not like. Others you will choose to follow. You have come face to face with some really awful things. You have accepted that some things can and should be changed. And you have decided you are going to be part of that change. PTSD has given you a new purpose. We all grow up with other people telling us who we are and what our lives should be like. We made ourselves fit in with the people the around us, because that was all we knew. We developed habits and accepted ideas often without much thought. Trauma changes all that. Post traumatic stress disorder forces us to face ourselves and your life. It also frees us to choose who we will be and what our lives will be about. Your life is yours now, what are you going to do with it?  

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