My counselor helped me to understand that PTSD was my survival tool for extreme situations. The issue that arose was using extreme measures for every day living. He pointed out that wearing full body armor in war times is reasonable. However, when the bombing stops carrying around all that armor wore me down and tired me out. The struggle I had was people were still taking pot shots at me I and I interpreted the slightest correction as an all out personal attack. My therapist called it all or nothing thinking. I either didn’t recognize when people were being rude because it was so much less than how I was treated or hitting a trigger caused an out of proportion melt down. He encouraged me to expand my tool box beyond the knee jerk automatic response implemented with PTSD. He encouraged me to slow down my reflex action and pull apart the situation to the individual components.
- What was my immediate reaction?
- Did it fit the situation?
- How much of my reaction was from my past?
- What are other response options?
- Do I understand the situation?
- Who’s problem is it?
I could ask these questions to myself in no particular order. The significance of each questions was building on allowing my main brain instead of auto-pilot to control my life. These questions strengthen my self awareness of am I acting out of fear of the past or proactive choice of today?
I need to take control of my life. I need to understand the only one I could control is me. I need to separate my present reaction from past triggers. I need to see that choosing to live my life is significantly different than cowering in fear of retaliation if I make a mistake. This took training, practice, and reviewing results over years of working with a counselor that understood empowerment, responsibility, and the joy of choosing to live my life on my terms. I’m thankful that I was blessed with a counselor that set me on a path of healing that taught me how to live joyfully. Complex PTSD is ever present in my life but it controls less and less of it as I grow in understanding and develop a whole box of coping tools.