PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) affects every part of your brain and, consequently, every part of your body. When PTSD settles in your mind and body, you quickly realize something: PTSD has sharp edges and ragged sides. As it moves around, it scrapes, cuts, and slices … who? You.
Every painful flashback, every traumatic reminder, all the nightmares chop away at you, leaving you in ribbons of pain and dysfunction. Inside, you’re a bloody mess. Outside, you’re trying to hide these terrifying surprise attacks and look like other “normal” people.
But all that slicing inside you often comes out as sharp and cutting in the way you live your life. I know because I’ve experienced this sharpness inside that results in sharpness “outside.”
PTSD erupts in your outside life as anger, anxiety, fear, the need to control, or the need to withdraw. You’ve probably experienced other ways PTSD slices through to your outside life.
So what can we do about it?
- Become aware of what’s going on inside. Know that a flashback might affect you for hours or days. Remember that a nightmare will be clear as day for a while. Keep a pulse on the anxiety that ongoing fear can produce in your life.
- Tackle these tyrants one by one—with counseling, prayer, medication, meditation, or sheer determination. Over time, you’ll dull the sharpness inside by putting it in your past or making sense of it in another way. The sharp knives will still pop up now and then, but you can control them better and they won’t do as much damage.
- Remember that this will pass. Each inside pain will eventually calm down, and you’ll also become calmer on the outside. Tell each flashback, nightmare, and cause for anxiety to go back to the past, where they belong. You are stronger than they are, and you can control whether they stay in your mind or reflect in your actions. This takes practice, therapy, and a drive to become whole. But you can do it.
Yes, but this is so hard to do, right? It’s kind of like playing “Whack a Mole,” stifling the intruders in your life as they keep coming up. One day you’ll notice that they don’t come up so often, and they’re not so hard to beat back. Your healed, healthier inside will unify with the outside you, and you’ll be a more integrated person.
Each time you identify something sharp inside, address it and file it down flat. You may have to do this for months or years, but you’ll be getting better all the time.
Getting better gives us hope. And that’s what we need to keep going .
Check out my book, “Hope After Trauma and PTSD” on Amazon for more insights into gaining control over PTSD.
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