Coping – learning to live with PTSD. Past the first step of accepting PTSD is part of your life, so now what?
You are the most neglected and powerful factor in learning to cope…your motivation, your goals, your desire to learn to cope make a huge difference. Your strengths, social support, socioeconomic status, resources and life experiences are the place to begin.
Debate rages on as to how to categorize PTSD for civilians. Doesn’t matter what other people believe, I wake up every morning and it is there. PTSD rudely follows me into my night. For years, I coped with PTSD by dissociating to the point that I remembered so little of my life I felt like I wasn’t all here. PTSD intrudes on everything. I looked for ways to live with it.
First place I looked was counseling. Through out these pages I am going to talk about getting professional counseling, often. Look for a counselor with a background in PTSD. A good counselor teaches techniques on how to cope along with listening to you share your story. Many of these skills taught by counselors can be used by anyone looking for ways to cope with difficult challenges. A combination of emotional, physical and mental tools help me put PTSD in its place, a part of my life but not controlling my life.
Talk Therapy – telling your story to a compassionate, nonjudgmental, and understanding person, hopefully a counselor with skills to help you wrap your mind around events that brought PTSD into your life.
Writing in a journal – not just a diary of events but a place to explore your thoughts, feelings, reactions, fears, questions, findings, or anything else that seems to make more sense on paper. Sometimes writing helps get what you are feeling on the inside out where those feelings can be examined. A place to be honest with yourself. The truth will make you free but first it is really miserable. Don’t expect only nice stories.
Creative out let – Photography, music, painting, drawing, sculpture, dance any creative endeavor can access a part of your mind and emotions that words don’t reach.
Religion – a belief system, a rock to anchor, a point of view that expands your perspective to include more than this life time, a consistent belief system is vital. Some people I know have science for their religion. I will use quotes from many different religions, scholars, and scientist. Truth and encouragement are sprinkled everywhere, when I find something worth sharing I will. I do not believe that going to church makes a person religious any more than standing in my drive way makes me a car. I will share what I believe and appreciate others sharing their beliefs. Done with respect this may be an opportunity to learn from one another.
Routines – yes, routines help with coping in everyday life. For living with PTSD, routines are vital to help me carry on when my mind is battling a raging war inside. Habits kick in when the mind shuts downs. This makes a difference in functioning every day.
Boundaries – Healthy boundaries protect you and allow those you want close to you in.
Human Rights – write your own list of rights and responsibilities
Pain is your friend – Yes, you read that correctly. A person with PTSD sometime numb themselves to avoid further pain, unfortunately it also numbs them to interest, happiness, enthusiasm, excitement, peace, love, and every other emotion. A temporary numbness can help for a time but long term destroys all that is good in life.
A general outline for coping with anxiety which is a major component of PTSD http://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/adult_hmptsd.pdf