Living With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder brought on by trauma. Unfortunately, I have first hand experience and am still working my way through it all.

Helpful Links:
National Center for PTSD
National Institute of Mental Health



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perspective in concrete 1

Do you see the chocolate bunny in the photo?

No?

Look again because I clearly see a chocolate bunny rabbit.

You still don’t see it?

Well, if I’m totally honest, I didn’t see it at first either. However, now that I’ve seen it, the chocolate bunny with an eye and mouth is obvious to me in every photo.

perspective in concrete 2

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that I can see an eye and mouth too. Can you see a chocolate bunny with an eye and a mouth?

“What you see and what you hear
depends a great deal on
where you are standing.
It also depends on
what sort of person you are.”
~ C.S. Lewis ~

Perception And Perspective

My perception or the way I understand and interpret the object in the photo is just that…MY PERCEPTION. So I can explain what I see in the photos and can point to the different parts of the photo in hopes that you will also see a chocolate bunny that has an eye and mouth. No matter how hard I try to have you “see” what I’m seeing in the photos, your perception is going to be different than mine. You may eventually conclude that you see a chocolate bunny with an eye and mouth, but even that admittance doesn’t mean that you see it the same way that I see it.

From my perspective or view point, it is very easy to see the bunny. I can have several attitudes about your inability to see it.

  1. I can feel aggravated that you can’t see the bunny.
  2. I can become angry that you can’t see the chocolate bunny.
  3. I can feel absolutely nothing about your inability to see the chocolate bunny.
  4. I can think you are stupid or ignorant because you can’t see a very obvious chocolate bunny.
  5. I can be patient with you and keep trying to help you see my point of view.

At what point do I quit being aggravated, angry or patient with you? Do I verbally condemn you and angrily berate you because you don’t see the bunny? Can I accept your inability to see the chocolate bunny and put it behind me?

perspective in concrete 3

“The eye sees only what the mind
is prepared to comprehend.”
~ Robertson Davies ~

There’s no reason to blame you for not seeing the smiling chocolate bunny with a cute eye. It’s just life. You’re not always going to see what I see and I won’t always see what you see either. We can still have a relationship built on honesty, trust, compassion, love, admiration, etc. The fact that we are different is allowed in life!

My ability to see a chocolate bunny might have a lot to do with my history versus your history. All of those past experiences play a vital role in molding my perspective. The way I perceive the object in the photo may be influenced by all the chocolate bunnies my mother put in my Easter basket when I was a child. All the smiling chocolate bunnies that I put in Brittany and Alyssa’s Easter baskets may also play a vital part in my view point.

Just because I can see a bunny and you can’t doesn’t make me better than you either. We are just different. Our differences are okay. Actually, they are more than okay. Our differences are what makes life interesting and exciting.

Sometimes having another person with your same perspective is of the utmost in importance. It will either make or break you. I don’t think seeing a chocolate bunny is going to make or break you, but there have been times in my life that I really NEEDED to be understood completely and to have others share my perspective.

Let me give you an example of a time when I needed someone to hold my hand, dance my dance, and walk my path.

When my daughter nearly died in that horrific intensive care experience and I suddenly was swirling in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) Hell, I desperately tried to have other people understand the emotional pain, physical deprivation and mental insanity I suffered every minute of every day.

My inner circle of family and friends were oblivious and I was unable to explain myself in a way that helped them to see the “chocolate bunny.” Because I NEEDED help in the worst way, I because aggravated, angry, sad and desperate to be understood and connected with someone.

perspective in concrete 4

Now that the experience is behind me and I am healed of that nightmare, I can look back and say that in many ways some of the people totally failed me. If I had suddenly had a heart attack, they would have rallied around me because they understand heart attacks. If I had broken both legs, they would have rallied around me because they understand broken bones. I had an emotional and mental trauma that they did not understand, so they coped with it by avoiding me, avoiding the subject, ridiculing me or they did not make the extra effort to understand my point of view.

I know that sounds harsh, but if we are all “family or close friends” then we not only reap the benefits of belonging to the group, but we also must share in the responsibilities of belonging to each other. Am I angry with them about it? No, not anymore. Did they do the best they could at the time? Well, I do not know if that is true or false, but knowing the answer won’t change anything now. I do not know what was in their heart or mind. I do not know how the experience of Alyssa’s coma and brush with death affected them. I do not know how my insane PTSD life affected their attitude or their own life. I was suffering too badly to know such things or even know to think of such concepts. Maybe they were too traumatized too. Maybe they couldn’t help me because they couldn’t help themselves. Maybe my PTSD insanity was so overwhelming to their hearts and minds that they couldn’t accept it or comprehend it enough to help me more than they did at the time. I simply do not know any of these things.

What I DO KNOW NOW is that even though no one in my inner circle perceived the gravity of my PTSD suffering, I was able to connect with a therapist that walked me through the steps to heal. As my healing took place, my perspective on the actions of the people around me changed. As far as I can tell, they are still the same people that they have always been. They are no closer to understanding my journey than they ever did. The person who dramatically changed in this whole experience is me. The only person that truly knows the journey that I took on the path to heal is me. It is my life and only I can totally understand it. The same holds true with your journey and struggles through life.

Your path may include things like armed robbery, alcoholism, embezzlement, drug abuse, rape, attempted suicide, agoraphobia, adoption, greed, selfishness, poverty, persecution, and the list could go on and on. You and you alone walk your path. Other people cross it and at times walk with you, but no one can stay on your path one hundred percent of the time. They also can’t be in your head when you’re thinking and thinking all day long. Expecting others to see every chocolate bunny in your life is unrealistic.

How far do we go and how long do we try to get people to walk part of our journey with us?

That is a very individual answer based on who you and your family are and what the circumstance is that you want to share.

If they aren’t there to rally around you, what do you do with all the anger you feel at being left alone?

Let. It. Go.

I’m going to say that again a little differently.

LET. IT. GO!!!!

Forgive everyone. Release the resentment and anger you feel. Let it flow through you and right out of you. Keep your perspective clear and focused. If they can’t or won’t make the effort to see the chocolate bunny with an eye and mouth, the best thing you can do for yourself is to accept it while moving on to a solution and happier life.

“The voyage of discovery
is not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust ~

Maybe I can better explain my chocolate bunny to you or maybe you are more open to seeing my chocolate bunny now, so I’m going to try one more time.

If I put a real chocolate bunny next to the hole in the concrete, can you see a chocolate bunny with an eye and mouth in the concrete? Does it look like the hole in the concrete is shaped like a bunny rabbit to you? Can you see what looks like an eye and mouth inside the hole?

perspective in concrete chocolate bunny

No? Yes? Partially?

No matter your answer, I’m going to quit trying to have you see the chocolate bunny rabbit in the concrete.

My suggestion to you and myself is to always have new eyes, but know when you need to quit. Everyday wake up with hope, new eyes and a determination to succeed at whatever fills your day. Forgive the people that have hurt you whether they do it in ignorance or on purpose. Leave relationships that tear you down or are phony. Surround yourself with positive people and inspiring activities. Remain vigilant in your resolve to take advantage of every good opportunity on your path. Always keep your perspective clear and focused. Work on your own traits and choose to improve by being honest, loyal, compassionate, kind, loving, unselfish, helpful and patient. Pay attention to your own needs and to the needs of those you love and those that love you back. Be there for yourself and be there for them. And most importantly, understand that no one on the planet will TOTALLY understand your chocolate bunnies and that’s okay.

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