06 May 5 Serious Misconceptions About PTSD That Trauma Survivors Can Have
1. I am going insane.
PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal incident(s).
Some common symptoms are:
- Sudden anger or rage
- Experiencing the event as if it were happening in the present
- Disruptive sleep pattern or Nightmares
- Struggling with positive emotions
- Inability to perform essential daily functions
- Going out of the way to avoid traumatic reminders
- Feeling detached from others
It is entirely possible that these symptoms may not emerge for a substantial amount of time following a trauma. Because of this delay, it is difficult sometimes to make a connection between the symptoms and the event, which may make it seem like the PTSD came out of nowhere.
Even after a connection is made, symptoms can be random and unpredictable. The symptoms are usually prompted by a “trigger” or a reminder of the traumatic experience. Learning the management of symptoms can be empowering and is a crucial step in the PTSD healing process.
2. My therapist will force me to discuss bad memories.
Talk therapy is not the first therapeutic treatment recommended for PTSD because discussing trauma when the symptoms are not contained can trigger unpleasant memories, causing worsening of symptoms and further psychological damage.
Trauma therapy begins with learning how to manage symptoms. This is done through a combination of treatment approaches, like:
- Awareness about the symptoms of PTSD
- Grounding exercises AND creative expression
- Guided imagery
- Creating routines
- Medication when necessary.
Survivors who learn to manage or contain their symptoms, often then want to talk about specific memories. The therapist aids this process.
3. I will never recover.
Feeling disheartened is to be expected, but you will, especially with professional treatment and the support of loved ones. Survivors of traumatic experiences can go on to lead happy, fulfilling, and meaningful lives.
PTSD is a natural reaction to abnormal stress, similar to how the bleeding is natural when you have a wound on your body. Our mind and psyche can heal just like our body does. Healing takes time, along with in-depth personal effort and dedication to the treatment. Healing won’t mean that the past disappears, but instead that the past will no longer have the power to take over the present.
Trauma survivors can sometimes discover surprising insights and strengths about themselves along the healing process; this also known as “the gifts of trauma.”
The Gifts of Trauma:
- Increased compassionate
- Renewed purpose in life
- More intuitive
- Increased sense of self
- Discovering strength of character
4. I won’t ever stop crying if I start.
The fear of emotional vulnerability or releasing the intense emotions associated with trauma can be a harrowing experience. But, bottling up emotions and stress can have adverse effects on the body leading to severe medical conditions such as muscle tension, headaches, insomnia, obesity, heart disease, depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, and even skin conditions.
Crying can serve as a significant release of negative emotions and stress. Despite the fear associated with finally unleash all of the feelings and memories related to trauma, it won’t ever be as terrifying as it was to live through the actual trauma event.
Healing for trauma survivors is often a question of finding some form of treatment that helps relieve the stress that has been building up in one’s body. This typically includes practices like meditation, art, exercise, energy, and bodywork such as massage therapy or even group therapy.
5. I’m taking too long to get over this.
Trauma can seriously alter the way your brain functions. We react to stress with a fight or flight response. For people with PTSD, the mind is often stuck in a “High-stress” mode, a state of constant high alert, frantically vigilant for signs of danger. Because the brain is stuck in stress overload, this is greater than merely moving past a bad experience any more than another medical condition is a case of moving past the condition without treatment.
You would never treat a bullet wound using only a band-aid. The same applies to trauma. If the root cause isn’t addressed, attempts at self-medication or “just walk it off” are not going to be effective.
You can absolutely live a meaningful and fulfilling life after being diagnosed with PTSD. By making sure to engage in the rewarding and challenging work of healing, you can reclaim your life and discover something about yourself that you might not otherwise ever known existed.