Trauma and PTSD Recovery
I want you to know, I don’t know your individual story. I don’t know what you have lost, I don’t know what your pain is like, what you experience everyday and I wouldn’t even pretend to know. My story is not less or more traumatic then yours. I look at everyone’s story as the same because we only know our own experiences. I’m also not an expert on your life, far from it!! What I do know is what worked for me. And what I’am an expert in is healing strategies and human behaviour. It wouldn’t be fair if I kept this all to myself and see the numerous amounts of people suffer when I can offer some advice from my experiences. It only seems natural that I spread my knowledge to help another. I want you to know that I see you and I see your pain and extend my empathy for this time your going through.
It would be impossible for me to write everything I did to make peace with my trauma and PTSD in a blog post. So here are a few things to get you started on your journey.
Going through any type of trauma is an awful experience for all those involved, it can cause large amounts of stress and bring to surface many unusual feelings that can be hard to describe or understand. Somedays you will feel on top of the world and other days are a struggle just to build strength to face the day. Trauma can be this constant thing which you carry with you even if you’re having a good day. Your story creates this deep hole in your heart. Your sensitive to certain topics, sometimes your afraid to see people and other times you just want to get out of the house to keep your mind busy so you don’t need to face another moment of your pain. The flash backs constantly haunt you, date and clock watching occurs because you want to remember the seconds and minutes of when it all happened. It’s all you can think about even when you're not thinking about it, and if you're like me it is all you talk about or maybe you struggle to even utter the words of your trauma.
My journey to recovery was definitely one of the hardest things I have done to date. I have fallen down many times, there were many times when the light was the size of a ball point pen tip sitting amongst a hole of darkness and sorrow. I fought so hard with all of me, every cell in my body to get to a state of peace. Because I have this vision for my life, my vision is to be happy. My definition of happiness means not carrying any unnecessary weight around with me that my ego would like me to do. And I had done this for many years, going way back before this trauma without even knowing. The new found happiness I have, makes me feel confident in my own skin. I feel lighter, my thoughts are not consumed with sadness, I fill my life with the things that matter most to me, things that help me grow and because of this I am happy. I am happy even when I’m having a bad day. I am happy even when things go wrong in my life. I have no attachment to what happened, if I experience a life storm I don’t reflect upon what I have been through and say why me because I have made peace with the past. In fact I turned my “why me” into “why not me”. My trauma was a very significant event but it was my rebirth and awakening. I didn’t set out for it to be this way, it kind of just happened. While I was in the process of healing I realised that for me to be free of my suffering I needed to make complete peace with my trauma. I envision my life to be joyful, and it certainly wasn’t going to be joyful if I hung onto my pain, labels and beliefs that keep me suffering.
This isn’t about ignoring your pain or suffering or pretending like it wasn’t a big deal. Because it is a huge deal. My trauma was a massive deal, it was a terrible time in my life and I would never pretend otherwise. This is about finding peace, we have this one chance at life. What would be the point of living in continuous suffering then reaching an elderly age looking back and wishing we had healed our own hearts and lived for the moment more. I’m not asking you to pretend like everything is ok, I’m asking if your willing to find peace.
There is so much to overcome after a trauma, I could write pages and pages. There is the smells, the touches, the feelings, what you saw with your eyes, the things you loss, the flashbacks and the experience you had. The memories, and the timing of how everything took place just play on rewind. But it doesn’t stop there. These aren’t the only things you need to overcome, and in actual fact this isn’t even the first thing you can overcome. I had many unsuccessful attempts of overcoming the trauma itself which left me feeling very frustrated and annoyed. I just wanted it done and over with, I wanted to move on, take the lessons and get on with it but it wasn’t the case.
Here are a five strategies that helped me on my journey. Please note it is not the big steps you take, it’s the small things you do every single day (and I mean every day, not sometimes) that will equate to the big outcome.
1. Four Words
Overcoming trauma requires patience, persistence, resilience and flexibility. These four things you must never comprise on. If your like me, wanting to feel good in your own skin and above all else just to be happy. Then no matter the kind of day your having, in the back of your mind remind yourself that you must have
PATIENCE when your heart is wounded like when the trauma flash backs start again and your mind keeps obsessing over every single detail. Be patient when you need to grieve. Allow yourself to grieve.
PERSISTENCE it’s going to feel like your suffering may never end. Keep persisting and doing things that are going to support and nurture your soul.
RESILIENCE on your darkest days/weeks/months just know inside that you will never ever give up.
FLEXIBILITY be open to new ways.
You don’t need to have these elements already, you can just start right now by making a conscious decision to act upon these four elements. You could place these words up somewhere you look everyday as a reminder.
Our beliefs shape our reality, whatever we believe to be true is what we will experience. We form our beliefs from a very young age from the big people that are around us. Such as family, friends, teachers, mentors etc. Our beliefs will draw in what we pay attention too. For example if someone believe’s the world is a scary place, then this person will be very fearful of life. Versus someone who believes that life is magical. When we have a belief we will draw upon anchor points to confirm why that belief is true, for example if you believe you aren’t smart then you would recall on a time in school when you failed a test to confirm this belief is correct. Beliefs are so powerful, and they are all made up. Yes that’s right beliefs are just words that were handed down to you through those around you and your experiences. What does this mean? You can literally change any belief you have. How does this help trauma? If you have beliefs that don’t support you it can be detrimental to your healing process. Some negative beliefs you could hold are:
I’m not a strong person
I’m strong therefore I can take it
I’m not good enough
I’m unworthy of love
I’m unworthy of any good happening to me
It always happens to me
Life doesn’t work for me
Imagine having these beliefs while your world falls apart, these beliefs will make you pay attention to why your not good enough or whatever it may be. I had no idea how much my beliefs could shape my reality. I was never taught this important principle at school, and that everything I thought could be changed. Reality is of our own making. Spend some time writing any negative beliefs that come up, then change them to what would nurture you instead. Read these beliefs every single day until they become second nature to you. It takes around 60 days to form new habits, your beliefs are just made out of habits. Pretty amazing right!!
Here are a couple of beliefs that positively impacted my trauma recovery
Belief number 1 - I will always prevail
This belief is very ingrained within me, when I say this belief I say it with a lot of passion and I really mean it from my heart.
Belief number 2 - When my back is to the wall, the best in me comes out
During my recovery time, my back was well and truly up against the wall. My health just wouldn’t recover and I felt pushed into a corner. But I’m a fighter and I fought so hard to gain control of my body again which leads me onto what I did next.
3. I changed everything about my life
You name it I did it.
I moved furniture pieces in my home
I changed the colours within my house
I feng shui’d the shit out of my home
I put a pumpkin on my front porch (lol yes this really happened, husband thought I was crazy)
I put crystals all over my house
I got one of my indoor plants and put it on my bed side because Doreen Virtue said so
I started hanging out with very spiritual people at meditation
I immersed myself in visualisations to help me overcome my trauma
I challenged EVERY SINGLE belief, thought, value, anything that society told me to be, who I was, who I wanted to become and so on
I went to spiritual healing
I did handstands because my mentor told me that was my homework
I changed my food intake
I OBSESSED over human behaviour
I stopped going out so I could study day and night
I subscribed to every single website on the internet that related to wellbeing, spirituality and recovery
I started reading books
I meditated every day
The lady at my local Coles even knew my story
I really stopped at nothing, there probably is a lot more to add to the list but I think you get the point. I never gave up, the actions I was doing were completely out there but they caused no harm to anyone around me. All these things contributed to my healing in a very small or large way. We cannot know what is going to help us unless we just get ourselves out there and give everything a go. Flexibility in our thinking is a must, the more your willing to let go of feeling silly or crazy is when you will find what will actually allow you to heal. There are so many people living life saying “I would never do that” out of fear of looking bad. However there are people who are doing things that you may consider to be bad or embarrassing and getting great results. Take yourself out of the cage, allow yourself to be flexible.
My motto is, if you feel comfortable then what your doing won’t work, you need to feel uncomfortable because when your uncomfortable growth will happen.
4. The Ego
The primary function of our ego is to keep us safe, if a vehicle was moving towards us our ego will send us into flight or fight mode so we could move out of the way. However, our ego doesn’t know the difference between what we tell it and what is happening in real life. Scary right!! The ego is our fear and is deeply connected to our identity statements. According to Eckhart Tolle these identity statements could see someone hold onto resentment and grievances as they form an essential part of a persons sense of self. He goes on to say that even if the grievances are completely justified a person could construct an identity of someone that is much like a prison whose bars are made of thought forms. Only when that person gains awareness of this is when they can set themselves free. Awareness is all that is needed.
I think this is one of the most important concepts to understand, because it was really transformational for me. Again like I said previously, how your feeling is justified. How your feeling matters so much, and what you have been through is so unfortunate I see you and I see your pain. I’m not asking you to forget what you have been through or to pretend like it was nothing, I would be concerned if you did. I’m asking if you would consider bending down and picking up that key which is on the floor next to your feet, placing it in the key hole of your prison cell. Opening the door and just gently stepping out. You are suddenly on the outside of the cell, it may seem scary at first but your new found beliefs that your going to implement are supporting you on this journey.
Now as an outsider you see the cell, you see the pain and the anguish you have been through acknowledging all aspects of the trauma. You suddenly become separate from it, you are not apart of the prison cell. You are the watcher and observer of the darkness that is within the cell, and suddenly you have the opportunity to move and bend freely. The prison cell is still there but it is not you, it is not your identity because you are so much more then that.
It’s amazing how everything can melt away just for a moment when you close your eyes and become deeply connected to your own breath and body. That just for a moment in time nothing else matters but savouring your peace. Gratitude spreads across you and in those moments you feel deeply connected to your soul and to a force that is more powerful then you and I.
Previous to my trauma I never meditated, now I could never imagine my life without. Meditation is more then just a practice it is a way of being. Imagine living life where you are completely aware of your surroundings, recognising that right here and now is all that matters. That the past or the future cannot be changed or controlled with your mind.
Meditation has brought so much peace into my life, it helped heal my PTSD by simply quietening my mind. Post traumatic stress can make you feel very fearful and on edge, meditation does the opposite to this it disengages you out of the flight or fight response. Just because you have a racing mind doesn’t mean you can’t meditate. There is a lot of misconceptions about this statement. I use to be one of those people, my reason why I was meditating however was so strong that nothing would get in the way of my practice.
I recommend you start small by listening to a guided meditation once a day just for 5 to 10 minutes and slowly build upon your practice this way.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, just one small step at a time is all that is needed.
If you would like a copy of my free guided meditation course please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Love & Light to you on your journey, if I can help in any way please contact me.