Last week we met Michele Renaud who gave us her background with PTSD. This week and next, we read her steps to deal with Post Traumatic Stress.
What are the motivators that hold our recovery trapped behind a stuck door?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), triggered thought processes, emotional response, and repeated negative behavior or self dialogue in dealing with induced memories from experiences. We are unknowingly closing the windows and doors leading to recovery when the PTSD symptoms cloud our thinking. As I have had multiple or co-morbid conditions that impacted my symptoms, it became crucial that I learned new ways of dealing with myself and how to master positive proactive techniques that foster positive progress.
Finding the balance and reaching for the future developed into Post Trauma Survival Determination. Keeping in mind that all sufferers of PTSD experience its wrath differently, it is each individuals personal responsibility to themselves to find healthy ways to re-process, re-learn and re-establish who they once were and be who it is they strive to become. When we balance our thoughts we can balance our emotions. Then we can develop and integrate behaviors that decrease PTSD symptoms and start to heal. Eliminating negative influences externally and internally are a part of the process.
Since PTSD is dirt on the windows covered up by the shutting out of clarity within ourselves, first we must try to clean up our thoughts. Reactions similar to closing a door, are the emotional responses to the past that hinders our potential for healing which is undermining to the self. The methods that are utilized in your process of recovery are the things that will help instill growth from the inside out. The tools needed to obtain and maintain health are those that require determination to delve into, hold onto, and implement for recovery. To do this takes practice and hard work. Boundaries are a good place to start and where to put them depends on where they are needed. Starting with your own PTSD, learning what does not belong is what you will have to attempt to eliminate.
Today I will share with you what I have learned in my plight and how applying these measures to daily life have helped in healing my PTSD, even if one step at a time, while opening one window, one door and taking each moment or trigger and re-wiring the old ways into forming new habits. This is when I learned that adapting to circumstances beyond my control simply meant there was no other option but to do so. Hence resiliency was instead automatically produced, acceptance grew, and application of skills to reverse my symptoms were honed.
Here I am opening the door into myself and invite you to peer inside…with the hope that my process helps you in continuing yours.
Step one- Self Excavation
Looking into the before, during and after of PTSD means focusing on the self. The deciphering of who we were, before the trauma, who we are during the trauma, and who we have become because of the trauma can be both painful yet enlightening. Accepting the past, being aware of how it effects the present, will guide you in creating wellness for the future. Triggers need identification, and a plan to deal with them has to be prepared. Positive results can happen when you reach the core of PTSD individually, then figure out how to not let the symptoms throw you off course. Self care skills are crucial while you are in the excavation stage.
I found creativity as a means of expression. This is a method that I still use regularly when my PTSD puts emotions on hyper vigilant status. This is a release and a focusing skill to ground myself in the moment as I am feeling it. Deep breathing exercises help to keep me balanced as to not let my emotions go out of control.
Step two- Self Awareness (solo)
I became aware enough to change my perceptions, and my thought processes by forming a conscious effort of understanding my PTSD and the triggers that motivated my responses. Being able to see what made me uncomfortable, what made me calm, what I enjoyed doing, and what I disliked enabled me to be present. Staying aware of how I was thinking, what elicited negative thoughts or actions and behaviors, helped me to then get rid of what did not work and then enhance what did.
Learning what to do during PTSD moments took years of self introspection, emotional discipline, and application which is a continuous effort. I have not reached complete recovery but am getting closer everyday. I enjoy silence, meditation, or listening to music which soothes the soul.
Step Three- Self Awareness (through therapy)
Group vs. Individual Counseling- Being in a group with others who had similar experiences helped me recognize I was not so different, was not alone, and felt comfortable in a room with collective uncomfortable sufferers. I have chosen group therapies both for personal gain and to be able to inspire others within those group sessions. This form of therapy can be used in clinical, hospital, or non related settings that teach you new skills to apply to your life.
Wellness is manifested in finding positive people, places and things and all that regards what makes you balanced. In order to do this you must first identify what triggers you, where, when, why, then how to process everything with a different lens becomes easier. For me I have found a prayerful life, faith based study, and the Bible. Above all trusting and thanking God for helping me to heal in good times and through bad. I even go into praying when a negative thought enters my mind. Not all people believe in faith so it might not be your thing.
We’ll continue with more steps next week.
Michele Talerico-Renaud’s personal domain and blog is http://survivorsharingstrength.comorhttp://survivorsharingstrength.wordpress.com She started it when she became a NYS Action Leader with MADE (moms and dads for the education of dating abuse) who is sponsored by Liz Claiborne in conjunction with Love is not abuse curriculum and lobbying for laws in the educational arena. http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/made/index.htmlAt the same time she had bowed out of a local grassroots organization who could not support her efforts. Immediately in that very same course of time, due to her son’s health problems that hindered his education, she had to re prioritize her activism and advocacy with the focus on her child while in her own recovery. In order to deal with extreme life situations, it actually pushed her over onto the Healing side of things where self focus and PTSD triggers came in floods that just made her stronger! Yay! She is a partner and contributor to The Courage Network http://www.couragenetwork.com/stories.htmlwhere her story and a couple of poems are on.
The ideas contained in this post are solely those of the author. To contribute to the Survivor Speaks series, contact Michele .