Thank you for coming back to read Part Three of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Today we’ll look at ways to help you in your recovery from PTSD, how to forgive the perpetrator, if your PTSD is a direct result of another person’s violent action toward you, and suggestions for people who love and live with someone who has PTSD. Like other injuries, traumatic injuries can be improved, maybe even healed, if you get proper treatment. Living with PTSD can be torturous. In order to start your healing, you must get professional help, and you are advised to talk about your trauma with trusted and supportive friends and family members. A few years ago, I decided I had suffered long enough and wasted too many years of my precious life being afraid. FUCK PTSD! I refuse to just allow it to control my life. It’s time to take your first step out from under the stigma and heartache of PTSD.
If you’ve been diagnosed with PTSD, it doesn’t stop there. It is satisfying having a name for all the things you’re feeling, but a diagnosis is not the end. It’s just the beginning. Now the hard work begins. If you have not been diagnosed but you think you or a loved one may be suffering from PTSD, a visit with a doctor is your first step.
Therapies & Options For PTSD
There are many treatment options available, but your doctor will be the one to assess and guide you according to your symptoms, the type of trauma you suffered, whether or not your trauma is accompanied by anxiety, depression and/or substance abuse, and your willingness to openly participate in suggested therapy methods.
Medication will likely be an option, however, only you and your doctor will know if that is right for you. There’s a big push-back lately about medicating people, but hear me out. Sometimes medication helps to ease symptoms, help you to talk, to focus and feel better. You may not require medication for life. Medication may just enable you to get on with the business of recovery.
I tried different meds under my doctor’s supervision. If one was not helpful we tried a different one. Finally one was a good fit. I went through some talk therapy and as I learned how to cope better, I weaned off the meds and have been medication free for many years. My preference has always been to have a natural remedy over medication, so agreeing to take meds was difficult for me. The question I had to ask myself was, what was more important, the stigma of taking meds, or recovering?
Lose the Stigma
This is when you must advocate for yourself. This is your life and you want to live it! You deserve to be happy and healthy and enjoy healthy relationships. IF you need medication for a while, or for a lifetime, that’s no one’s business but your own. Educate yourself, discuss it with your doctor and make your decision from that knowledge. No one can force you to take medication. It is your choice. I can tell you it was a life saver for me at the time. Download this discussion guide to understand terminology when speaking with your doctor.
Psychotherapy (Talk Therapy) For PTSD
It’s a big scary sounding word that means talking. There are different types of talk therapy.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy- helps you to change your thinking and behaviour patterns
- Interpersonal Therapy- to help you understand things like unresolved issues, grief and conflict
- Dialetical Behavioural Therapy- to encourage mindfulness, increase your tolerance for negative emotions instead of just trying to push them aside, learn to manage and change your more intense emotions and learn how to communicate much more effectively
- Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Therapy- delves into painful emotional and relational issues to develop coping tools
- Compassion Focused Therapy- encourages you to treat yourself and others with compassion
- Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing Therapy, (EMDR)- uses eye movements to transform the painful event on an emotional level, changing your view of the event from “victim” to empowered and stronger
There are so many more types of psychotherapy (talk therapy). Do some research, talk with your doctor, and together with him/her you will find the best type of therapy for your recovery.
Trauma Therapy Yoga
This man, Bessel van der Kolk, M.D believes that yoga can be more beneficial than medication. He says that when a person has PTSD “your body is stuck in heart breaking gut wrench” and that “you don’t want to feel what you feel or know what you know.” (referring to the traumatic event). He’s correct when he says that a traumatized person is afraid to feel.” It’s so true. If you don’t feel the warmth, happiness, or excitement, then you can’t be hurt again when it gets ripped out from under you.
The purpose of trauma-sensitive therapy is to become more aware of your body and to learn how to release tension, as is the case with all yoga, but also to “reduce and control fear and arousal, and tolerate sensation.”
Dr. van der Kolk believes that after trauma, especially repeated trauma, there can come a point when the immune system over-reacts. We need trauma sensitive yoga to unwind, to release and to understand that we are in fact capable of persistence, and of creating change in our bodies and our minds.
Navigating Relationships Affected By PTSD
In my personal experience, stability and routine is the key in personal relationships. Kindness and patience is appreciated when I need to ask a question one more time, just to be sure…My intention is not to annoy or be confrontational, it’s because I need reassurance, which is what helps me feel safe. I find I also need some sort of routine expression of affection and that time spent together with loved ones is hugely therapeutic. Needless to say, covid restrictions have put a dent in that.
Even though I may be talkative and happy one day and quiet and distant the next, it is important to note that if I notice that you are suddenly “off” or not feeling or behaving like yourself, it will be triggering for me. I will be worried that something’s up. So, what are your triggers? Are you able to recognize what is actually bothersome about certain triggers?
It can’t be easy being in a relationship with someone who has PTSD, and it’s not easy having a successful relationship when you are the one with PTSD. Ironically, one of the most helpful tools for recovery, or just coping with PTSD, is having a supportive partner or friend and a stable relationship. Oh, and sleep. Ask anyone with PTSD and they’ll tell you that sleep can be elusive at times. That makes you irritable and short tempered and no doubt, stressed out and hard to be with. A vicious cycle. Hence the need for a stable routine.
FOCUS ON THE FUTURE~
It is helpful for you to understand that forgiveness is a huge part of recovering from trauma.
This is a beautiful article about how to help someone you love who has PTSD. Be kind to yourself, and be patient. Pay attention to what triggers you. You should do your research, but don’t think you can self-help your way to recovery. As my daughter said to me recently when we discussed PTSD “You can’t fix a broken brain, with a broken brain.” Do yourself a great favour and seek the help of a doctor who can help shed light on so many aspects of PTSD.
The information I’ve shared here is just skimming the surface. I hope you have found it interesting and that you have hope for recovery, or that you’re better able to understand your loved one’s PTSD. Feel free to leave a comment.
Thanks for reading. Check back next week for a new topic, “Be Discerning”
Carol Paino~ Parts Of Ourselves