I know I’ve written about this week’s topic in the past, but I truly believe that it’s been exponential in helping me on my journey to recovery, so I'm going to say this again ...and I'm going to repeat myself until it (finally) sinks in. Not necessarily for the caretakers of loved ones that are living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but for those of you that are living with PTSD.
But wait, that doesn’t give the rest of you permission to stop reading - it just means this blog isn’t about you. It’s about the people you love and if you want to know how to be more supportive, instead of hindering the one you love, please keep reading.
Fellow survivors - this blog is for you. It’s for those of us that are living with PTSD, so I don’t need to discuss what it is, how a person gets it, or why PTSD affects some people while others get away unscathed. You; the person this blog is directed at, knows what PTSD is and what it’s like for people like us to live with, so I’m not going to cover that in this blog. *
What I am going to go over with you is how I, myself, am learning how to live with PTSD and its symptoms, in hopes that it might help you as well.
Are you ready – I mean really ready? Because what I’m about to tell you won’t be easy, but it is the most important step in learning how to live with PTSD, especially when it comes to accepting yourself.
Here it is… YOUR LIFE IS ABOUT YOU AND NOBODY ELSE – did you get that?
Just in case you didn’t I’m going to repeat it - YOUR LIFE IS ABOUT YOU AND NOBODY ELSE. It doesn’t matter whether you have PTSD or not – the decisions you make should be ones you make that help you to move forward, not decisions that pacify others.
Your life is about you, and you alone, and I know that what I’m saying might be hard to digest but stick with me. You need to stop letting other people tell you how you need to live your life, or how you should deal with your PTSD. It’s your life; no one else’s and unless the person giving you advice is also a PTSD survivor – they know nothing about what it’s like to be a survivor. Moreover, they have no idea how much we; being empaths, take their criticism to heart and in order for us to move forward, we need to put an end to their criticism.
Now don’t get me wrong because I know it isn’t easy to stand up for yourself when it comes to a mental illness like PTSD. Most of us grew up around narcissists and the only thing they taught us was to pacify them to keep the peace. It didn’t matter what the cost or how detrimental it was to our well-being, it was literally all about keeping the peace, so we stayed quiet.
I myself was quiet until about three years ago, but then I started implementing the advice I’m going to give you into practice. I’m not going to lie, or candy coat it - it’s been rough. But; and it’s a big but, I don’t believe I would have come half as far with my healing and recovery if I wouldn’t have made these changes and made my life about me.
I started by distancing myself from the people, places, and things that exacerbated my PTSD symptoms, such as triggers, anxiety and/or depression. I told myself that it didn’t have to be forever, just until I felt strong enough to face these stressors without triggering myself or causing myself anxiety.
It wasn’t easy – believe me. We, as in you and me, have been people pleasing other people for the better part of our lives …for us, that’s all we’ve ever known. Disappointing certain people, while I was growing up meant that I would have to endure some kind of suffering, whether it was being ignored, being locked up, or worse… but I know that they can’t hurt me anymore.
You’re going to have many moments of doubt; I did. The uncertainty of doing something so unfamiliar is going to plague your mind like a disease with no cure. I had all kinds of conversations with myself …first I would be telling myself I was doing the right thing; that I was a good person, but in the next breath, I would hear myself repeating their words; useless; waste of space; attention seeker.
It was so difficult at first, and I spent the better part of every day – for months (years in fact) questioning myself and whether I was being too harsh. Like you, I live in my head; constantly questioning everything …am I safe? …did I say something wrong? …moreover, did I do something wrong? Honestly, for me the list is endless, but I reminded myself that this wasn’t about anyone else – it was about me. My brain is injured and from now on my life is about learning how to live with that injury and either a person gets it, or they don’t; it’s that simple.
I’m done trying to defend myself to anyone – no matter who they are. I have PTSD, and this is my new normal. It shouldn’t matter that PTSD changed me and that it affects my day to day living – I’m still the same person underneath it all and I believe you should feel the same way.
Surround yourself with people that love you for who you are; flaws and all, because they will help you on this journey. They will help you to believe in yourself and that will help to give you the confidence you need in order to live your life for you, instead of continuing to live it for someone else.
Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.
*If you need to know more about PTSD, or how it’s affected my life, please feel free to explore my website, as well as checking out these articles I wrote about PTSD: