I saw this poster on facebook that said “PTSD isn’t about what’s wrong with you; it’s about what happened to you.” I believe this is a true statement. I believe that we can achieve all positive results through facing what happened; facing the trauma and the damage that trauma caused.
I believe that this is true for all depressions too. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the best term I have seen to describe depression. The name itself indicates that there was a trauma. After the trauma there was damage. The damage caused stress. Stress manifests itself in many different ways; depressions, dissociative disorders, physical illness and sleep disorders just to name a few.
But something happens when people actually try to face what happened. Looking back I can see how hard I fought facing it and how much I wanted to stay in the dark about the bottom line truth of it all. It’s human nature to try to protect ourselves when the truth is too painful. When we are kids it is much easier to cope by not thinking about the trauma and just “blocking it out”.
Quite often there is a terribly negative response from other people in our lives, especially from family when a survivor of trauma wants to face the facts and the truth about that trauma. When we try talking to our parents or our siblings, these people who are close to us may try to convince us that it is better NOT dealt with. We are encouraged by many to let it go, leave the past in the past, put it behind you and the list of these unhelpful trauma directives goes on and on.
Therapists will even jump on board and suggest that you have to “forgive your family” or that we should “try to understand them”, or that these parents “did they best they could” and the problem is that all this is said BEOFRE the trauma itself has been examined and validated.
The only way to get over a post traumatic stress disorder is to face and validate the truth about the trauma and quite often that includes facing that our parents let us down and that our emotional needs were neglected or even ignored. Sometimes it is even worse than that and we have to face the possibility that according to their actions, they didn’t even love us. Sometimes facing this stuff is more painful than the trauma itself was.
My family was so impatient with me whenever I even hinted at the past. I still remember my mother with her exasperated “OH DARLENE” and her impatience with my difficulty at not being able to put the past behind me. But the truth is that it wasn’t OVER yet. I had not gotten over it yet and that was mostly due to the fact that the trauma itself was NEVER validated.
I had been dismissed;
I had been shushed;
I had been ignored;
No one ever said to me “oh Darlene, I am so sorry that happened to you. It must have been frightening for you. It must have been a nightmare. Is there anything I can do?” None of this was said when it trauma events happened and none of it was said when I was ready to talk when I was an adult. The reactions that I did get communicated to me that I was a failure BECAUSE I needed to deal with it and that somehow I was the one that was disgusting and despicable.
No one held me while I cried. No one soothed me ~ no one validated that anything out of the ordinary happened, so there I was with this unresolved trauma (a post traumatic stress) and I was being told that I needed to let it go; just get over it. Leave it in the past without even a few instructions on how I might go about doing that. All of it was shoved under the carpet and ignored. But I had to cope with those traumas. I had to go on living with the trauma and the wound that had been inflicted on me. The damage was there and it wasn’t going away.
I was left trying to figure out a way to comprehend why no one seemed to think that I was important or valuable enough to give some validation or assistance to. I had to figure out why I wasn’t loved enough to be worth that safety. And that is post traumatic stress disorder.
My constant depressions were seen as a weakness. When I finally had to take medication just to get through a day it was viewed as the proof of my insignificance as a person and proof that I was the problem after all. No one wanted to consider that one invalidated difficulty after another from as young as I can remember, was at the root of my problems. No one considered that my issues may have been due to a lot of post traumatic stress disorder. No, they just saw me as weak. Too weak to cope with life on life’s terms. And I was too weak to deal with all of it because I was still oppressed by these same people.
Even therapists told me that what happened to me was over now and that there was no point in re visiting it. It was over. I told a therapist just one small thing about my mother and the left over pain from something that happened when I was 6. I told him that I had been trying to “get over it” for over 20 years. He gently told me that I would never get over it and that my goal was to “get through it”. He gave me anti depressants and suggested making myself do one fun thing each day. That was the only answer he offered to help me “get through it”. I felt my world crumble that day. And I write “emerging from broken” because he was wrong. I got over it. I found the way to completely get over it and not just “get through it” and I don’t need his anti depressants anymore either.
Twelve step programs told me to see what I could have done better and although I don’t think that the original writers meant to suggest that we as children could have done things better so that we were not abused, that is the way that I heard it because I had been raised with the belief that I could have done better and that if I was better or more worthy I would not have been ignored or dismissed or even abused in the first place.
It was when I faced the trauma that I got better. It was when I found out that it was what had happened to me that caused me to struggle with life on lifes terms that I found understanding and compassion for myself. It was when I began to comprehend the magnitude of what those traumas caused me to believe about myself and when I validated that those beliefs were lies about me, THEN I found hope for freedom from depressions and post traumatic stress disorders. It was when I validated my pain, my right to be angry and changed those lies to the truth that I began to live again. It was when I saw where and how my worth and self esteem got so damaged that I was able to repair the damage and reclaim my worth and my value.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a great name and diagnosis for what was going on with me. After the trauma I was under a great deal of stress and I could not put that stress behind me until I dealt with the damage the trauma caused. Today I don’t suffer from PTSD or from the disorders I was diagnosed with either; Bi-Polar Depression and Dissociative Identity Disorder.
But it is the treatment for it that I am passionate about…..
Please share your thoughts about diagnosis, post traumatic stress disorder or about facing the truth and don’t forget to sign up for updates about the no cost freedom ROCKS survivor community event and how you can be part of it! (see the about page here!) People all over the world are getting involved! Let’s get ready to throw a freedom rock! Check the emerging from broken facebook page for updates too.
There is freedom on the other side…..
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