PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Living Better

PTSD…Can You Really be Cured?

This was a question I received in my email a few days ago.

Then, another question immediately followed…”Are you really better or is this just an image you project?”

I stared at that last question, but I was still processing the first, I dunno, I thought. Am I cured of PTSD?

I did some research. I did some thinking…and as usual, thinking meant a whole lot more thinking, scanning, and self-evaluation.

An answer to the first leads me to the next question. So here we go…

Are you ever cured of PTSD?

Almost every professional in the mental health industry says…No. There is no cure for mental illness and, at best, it’s manageable, so they say, and this includes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

And, after personally interacting with many who have PTSD—cops to combat vets—to those who claim they have PTSD; and after struggling with some significant symptoms on my own, I tend to agree.

I mean, I still have nightmares from time to time; yet they’re not as vivid nor disturbing as they once were.

There are still things that trigger a thought, an ugly image, or sometimes, like the other day, there is no known trigger—

I sat at dinner with my significant other, Kirsten, and for no reason at all, my brain switched on some random video in my head about a bad call I had gone to years ago as a cop, that I had pretty much forgotten.

For a few moments, while slowly chewing dinner, I completely zoned out; this random thought played through my head. It was if I time traveled to that particular situation.

Although, I’m much quicker these days to recognize this intrusion.

Almost without any effort, I breathed a chuckle to myself, refocused my attention to the moment and continued on with eating a great dinner and having great conversation. Kristen didn’t even notice the hiccup.

Then there’s the grocery store…

A certain aisle contains a certain food that is associated with a certain hideous call I rolled up on early in my cop career. For years, I could not walk down this certain aisle without having anxiety go screaming off the charts to about choke off my air supply.

Today, I can walk down that certain aisle, look at that certain product and no problems. Not even a bump in the BPM now.

For me, this road to healing has been a lot like a scab on a deep wound. As long as I worked on healing this wound, things got better.

But, the moment I picked at it, dug at it, or kept it buried thinking it’d just go away with time, it would flare up with a vengeance which was like experiencing hell all over again.

And when that happened, I compounded the problem by questioning my own sanity.

So am I cured? Based on the fact I still have some minor issues from time to time, I’d have to say No. But I’m not so sure if ‘cured’ is the correct term here.

Cure relates to a medical condition. It means to relieve a person of the symptoms of a disease or condition.

Some professionals have begun to question the term Disorder. There’s talk of changing PTSD to PTSI; Post-Traumatic Stress Injury.

So maybe you can be a cured.

I think injury works better than disorder.

Even a severed limb will heal with the right treatment, it just leaves you with one heck of a scar.

So, onto the next question…Am I really better or is this just some sort of show?

I replied with, Great question and Thank You for asking.

Yes, I am much better these days. I recently mentioned to a friend that this is the best place I’ve ever been in my life in relation to peace, living intentionally, and just being happy.

I have my days though where I don’t fire on all cylinders. Sometimes I don’t get enough sleep, or I don’t eat right, or life happens and things don’t go as expected. It’s life, some days are better than others.

Yet, good or bad days, it’s those daily habits I’ve incorporated into my life through this healing journey that helps me to quickly regain balance.

Those daily habits are what helped me heal. I didn’t start each one all at once, it was a slow build until I discovered I was doing all of these every day…

I take care of my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health:

Every day, I start off with prayer and meditation.

Then somewhere during the day I’ll get out and move, whether it’s a run, or a walk, or a bike ride, or jumping jacks and some pushups; I’m doing something physical…moving is living.

I do an idea and a grateful list every day to exercise my mind and to refocus my thoughts.

I write in my journal every day, again to refocus my thoughts and help sort out what is important in life.

AND!!! People who constantly gossip, complain, and are generally negative about everything under the sun, must be cut out—you can’t heal if your environment is toxic.

Which brings me to the fact that I needed to change my environment if I had any chance to heal.

Injured people are taken to a hospital, or to a doctor.

The idea here is that injured folks are taken out of the environment that injured them and put in a place where they can get help, be nurtured, and strengthened so they can function once again.

Yet, for some reason, when it comes to this sort of injury, the PTS part, we have a tendency to think we’ll be okay because it’s like, Hey, I’m not gushing arterial blood here, so I’m cool.

Wrong. I wasn’t bleeding on the outside but on the inside.

And, it’s easy to ignore because NO ONE sees us inside.

We mask ourselves with a smile and everyone thinks all is good; yet we are dying and suffocating from the pressure and tension on the inside.

The nightmares won’t stop, the anxiety won’t go away, and the constant barrage of negativity simply won’t end.

I didn’t want to become a hollowed out shell of a man. Hence, I walked away, retired, left, whatever you want to call it, it was time to get away from the toxic environment that invariably creates such an injury.

This doesn’t mean you must retire or change careers, but perhaps it might.

The very least, maybe a leave of absence to help refocus your priorities, catch your breath and heal up a bit. You might find that during that time away, dedicated to healing, you’ll be able to think clearer as to what it is you truly want to do with the few precious days left here on this planet.

BUT, that’s just a thought, an idea, and not telling you what you should do with your life.

It’s your life to live, no one else’s. So don’t allow the expectations of others dictate how, where, or what you should do with your life.

Can we be cured? Yes, I think so.

Is this for real? Heck yeah!

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr.