- You are not alone
I’ve learned that as much as I wanted to isolate myself, connecting with others heals. I’m not going to quote the depressing statistics here, but child abuse is rampant across the globe, as is domestic abuse and rape. The link from trauma to survivor is very personal, but just remember whatever your situation – you are not alone. #metoo I isolated myself for a very long time. It didn’t help me – it hurt. Isolating yourself slows down, if not stops, the healing process. There are numerous online PTSD forums which I’ll link to at the bottom of this post.
- One of the meanest people you’ll ever meet can be you
I’ve learned that there was nobody that would be nastier to me that myself. I’d drop something on the floor: “Dummy.” Forget to set my alarm: “I’m a f*ing IDIOT!” I could and would berate myself for hours or even days for mistakes that I didn’t even make. All this in my very own head, saying things that would have been jaw-dropping had they been said to me out-loud by somebody else. It has taken a very long time to quiet the mean girl in my brain, and the difference is noticeable. I’m happier. I’m less stressed. I feel better about myself. I don’t cringe when I drop something. Which leads us into our next point…
- Self-forgiveness is key
This one is worth repeating because if you can REALLY do this, you’ll be your biggest hero. Once you do, an abundance of shame will fall away – much of which never belonged to you anyway. Don’t be your own mean girl/guy. And whatever you’re blaming yourself for, if you can forgive yourself like you forgive others, your life will be lifted. Here’s an article I’ve written on Overcoming the Burden of Guilt that you might find interesting.
- The right therapist is invaluable
A therapist isn’t just somebody you talk to; a therapist is a highly-skilled practitioner that will teach you critical self-coping skills that you can practice throughout your life. It is important that when you meet with them that you are honest about how you feel and why you’re meeting with them.The idea isn’t to hide anything from them, even if you feel shameful about it – that’s why you’re there. They are there as an impartial third party, and as a mental health professional they have one goal in mind: to help you. Going to the right therapist is also critical. If it doesn’t feel right, do not be afraid to switch to a different therapist – just be sure to actively pursue therapy if you can.
- Never become personal friends with your therapist
It is never appropriate to become friends with your therapist. Your therapist should never discuss his/her personal life with you or invite you outside of their office for a personal meeting. This is out of bounds. It is very important for the relationship to remain professional. If it does not, find a new therapist.
- You’re probably going to “backslide”
You might quit the healing process – that’s part of the process. There is an ebb and flow to the healing of the wounds of trauma. There are going to be some days, weeks, or even months where you are not better than you were the day before. It will pass. Life marches on even when we’re dealing with our trauma. And sometimes other emotional events pile on that make you decide that you just can’t deal with it right now, so you ‘check out.’ Or just old habits die hard and you forget that you’re a priority, too. Don’t be hard on yourself if you find yourself sliding into old habits – just make a course correction and refer to #3.
- It is going to take time, patience, and a conscious effort
But recovery will happen, even if you’re not making forward progress every day. The effort is worth it. Recovery doesn’t suddenly appear – it happens gradually, much like a child growing. Many times, we make steps that are so gradual that we don’t notice.
- You are just as important as everybody else
This is one of the most difficult yet important things I have learned during PTSD recovery. Once you realize and truly accept just how strong and worthy of love you are, everything changes. Dealing with the symptoms of PTSD and the traumatic memories that cause it becomes less of a battle, and more of an exercise. Self-worth is an essential foundation to healing with PTSD. Whenever I feel like I’m falling backwards, that’s the first place I look.
- You are worthy of being loved
No matter what has happened to you, or how much shame or anguish you feel, you are worthy of love. We’re all just flawed human beings doing the very best we can to make it through this life – no one is perfect. You are not alone. We all want to be loved and accepted, flaws and all. The least we can do is do that for ourselves.I’ve saved the very best for last:
- PTSD does NOT mean your life is over.
With time, dedication, and the right tools, you CAN overcome PTSD and live a fulfilling, productive life full of love, laughter, and happiness. Recovery IS possible…and is so rewarding. I wish to you the very best of this life – may it be full to the brim with laughter, kindness, fun, interesting conversations, people, and love. Persevere. There is life after a PTSD diagnosis. As I so often am fond of saying, life does not have to be perfect to be magnificent. <3
- You are not alone