So, I’m still thinking about J. (from Saturday’s post, Nov. 22) and his success in alleviating his PTSD symptoms just with the holistic action of getting out there and doing something that defines himself beyond his trauma. He brought laughter and happiness to the vets, and that helped heal him, too.
But he did more than that. J. wrote some other interesting things I think are worth sharing, on the topic of the value of distracting our minds, putting our plight in perspective, proactively determining the people we surround ourselves with, and what can bring us healing feelings. As I did before, I’ll let him tell you in his own words:
I also got very involved with [a military] newsletter and was Co-Editor. It all kept me very busy. That was a very big part of helping my mind.
Eventually I met S., my fiancee. She became a major factor in my life and that is basically what has happened. S. is a very positive person and that is very important. My mother is not a positive person at all. I can tell you for certain hanging around a person that is positive gives you hope. Hanging around a negative person can take you down. So here I am now, relocated in another state with a person I love very much. S. got me involved participating in a PTSD group. She is very upbeat and the most wonderful person I ever met in my life.
She also last May as a gift, purchased a rescue dog. Her name is A; she was found with her puppies walking on the outskirts of the Desert: surviving to feed her puppies. Rescue had her for about six months. Other families took her puppies. A. is my friend and a beautiful and loving friend. She had a rough back ground and so did I. We are the two pieces of the puzzle that simply fit. A. needs me, and I need her. I am involved with the [PTSD group and some military groups] and between it all, I seem to be doing about as best as possible. I have my days and I deal with it. The bottom line is, while entertaining in the hospital, I saw folks that had it a lot worse than I did. That opened my eyes. The trick is keeping busy.
The truth is, there is always someone who has it worse than we do. Take my friend B., for example, now into his second round of radiation for what the doctors originally thought was lung cancer that has turned out to be everything-cancer. After chemo earlier this year, and radiation on two places where the cancer had gone into his bones, now he’s in radiation again on his cerebellum. Wouldn’t we all take PTSD over this kind of pain and poor prognosis?
Perspective is key - and that includes the perspective of ourselves as well as those around us! PTSD, while horrible and awful, is not a condition without its progress. There is always the hope of overcoming it, and the certainty that aspects of it can be alleviated. Best of all, unlike cancer and other such illnesses, much of PTSD progress comes directly from what we do about it. The treatments we try, the contacts we make, the communities we join, the commitments we choose, the actions we take, the decisions we put in place, the ideas we hold, both about ourselves and our condition. All of these are within our control.
Now there’s an idea: Rather than be controlled by PTSD we can take back control. Hmmmm. A little at a time, not all at once, but just a smidgeon each day. How about, for example, going through just one day seeing it from outside your PTSD experience? How about looking at the world through a perspective divorced from our darkness? How about today you choose to be someone else in how you approach the world? Think of someone you admire. What qualities does he/she have that you wish you had? How does he/she approach the day, ie. with gusto, hope, goals, excitement? Emulate that person, just for an hour today. Too much? 1/2 an hours then; 15 minutes. Do it again tomorrow. After a year of this sort of positive, small step-taking process, where do you think you’d be? I can guarantee you'd be farther along in your quest for PTSD freedom. Care to place a little wager on that?
Listen, Norman Cousins cured a life-threatening neurological disorder simply by laughing; he rented funny movies and laughed himself back to health. Shouldn’t we be able to do that? I mean, after all, we only have to cure coping mechanisms that have gone astray, not a disease.
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