Post-Traumatic Stress is NOT a disorder

If we take a quick tour of the internet, we’ll find a lot of information about PTSD and how to treat it. There’s only one problem with this deluge of information: it’s all wrong. 

I’m not saying the information is wrong. What’s wrong is the idea that all the disturbing symptoms of PTSD are a disorder, that the brain and nervous system aren’t functioning the way they should. That’s what’s wrong.  The truth is that PTSD is the brain functioning exactly the way it should. It’s functioning the way it was designed to function.  

Post traumatic  stress is NOT a disorder.  

Sure, the symptoms  of PTSD can cause  us  a lot of trouble. They can even ruin  our  li ves  

The secret to dealing with PTSD is realizing that THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH  US !!  

Take a look at this article: The Anatomy of PTSD  

https://www.brainline.org/slideshow/anatomy-ptsd  

This  article  goes into great detail on the anatomical and physiological changes to the brain and its chemistry that happen when a person  suffers from  PTSD. The article describes how areas  of the brain  dedicated to the fight or flight response become overactive. It says that other areas of the brain responsible for calming  us  down become deactivated so  we  can’t turn off  our  memories and anxiety.  

One glaring issue sticks out from this article and every other article  we   find  on the internet about PTSD. In order to get a diagnosis of PTSD, there can’t be any brain injury that would otherwise explain the problem.  

Herein lies the key to the matter.  Our  brain s  did NOT change  their  basic anatomy. No part of  our  brain s  got damaged or destroyed. In fact, these changes can start the very instant  we  experience a traumatic event, such as a train wreck, earthquake, or the death of a loved one.  

This means that the brain is functioning the way it should by creating these symptoms. There’s nothing wrong with  us . This is the way our brain s are  supposed to deal with traumatic events.  We  don’t have a disorder.  We  had an experience and  we ’re processing it the way human beings are supposed to  process  it.  

For millions of years, humans  have  dealt with trauma in this way. They didn’t take  mood -altering chemicals to make it all go away so they could  go back to  acting normally. They processed the event and that processing begins with these symptoms.  

Here’s a  list of symptoms for PTSD.   (taken from Anxiety & Depression Association of America)  https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/symptoms    

Flashbacks  

Nightmares  

Avoidance of people and places associated with the event  

Avoidance of triggers  

Numbness  

Difficulty sleeping  

Difficulty concentrating  

Hyperalert  

Exaggerated s tartle response  

Irritability  

Uncontrolled emotions  

Anxiety  

Depression  

Inability to remember the traumatic event  

Exaggerated negative beliefs about yourself or the world  (such as, “I’m bad,” “No one can be trusted,” “The world is completely dangerous )  

Distorted blame of yourself or others  

Reckless & destructive behavior  

Persistent fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame  

Lack of interest and participation in activities that used to interest you  

Feeling detached or estranged from others    

I wish I had this list when I was recovering from child abuse. I suffered from every one of these symptoms and I had no idea why. If I had known and could  have  put a name on what the problem was, I could have recovered a lot faster.  

Let’s  look at  flashbacks as an example, since that’s one that causes child abuse survivors a lot of difficulty.   

Why do  we  get flashbacks?  

If  we  look at the next item on this list,  we  see that another important symptom of PTSD is avoidance of people and things that could remind  us  of the event. Obviously  we  don’t want to be reminded of something painful, so  we  avoid it.  

Flashbacks, overpowering emotions, lost sleep, nightmares, etc. are the brain’s way of making  us  deal with the event, even as  we  try everything in our power not to.  We  want to forget it.  We  want to wipe it out of existence.  We  want to go back in time to  when  the event never happened.  

The problem is that  we  can’t undo the event. It happened. It’s stamped into our being.  We  can’t un - experience it , much as we’d like to We  can try all  we  like to un - experience it, but our brain s  say otherwise.  

The bottom line is that  our  brain s  and nervous system s  cannot function under the extremes of stress all the time.  O ur brain s  will find a way to shut those stress responses down.  T hat’s exactly what happen s w hen we suffer from PTSD O ur brain s   are  struggling in every way  they  can to cope with an overwhelmingly intense stress response.   They  tr y  to shut down the memor ies  and to deal with  them  at the same time.  

The good news is that there’s a very simple, powerful tool  we  can use to reduce and, in some cases, eliminate flashbacks.  Check out our guide Flashbacks No More.  

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, human beings need to assign meaning to their experiences in order to process them. Let’s say  somebody  got into a car accident in which  they  lost several loved ones.  They  want to unmake that accident, but  they  can’t. It happened.  Their  life has changed irrevocably and  they  can’t go back.  

We  have to build a new life based on the new reality and that means finding some meaning in what happened to  us We might  have to tear down  our  whole identity based on our former life and create a new one based on the new reality. This is why  we  lose interest in things that once made  us  happy. The old structures and relationships don’t work anymore, so  we  have  to  build new ones and that takes time.  

The same is true  for  child abuse  and cult involvement None of us  will ever be the person  we  could have been had  we  lived a perfect childhood  or never suffered in the cult . That’s not  us We  had a certain experience and it made  us who we are . Now it’s our job to figure out who that is.  

I can guarantee you that person isn’t worthless or evil. I can also guarantee you that person isn’t living in a world that is  point less or evil, either. I can guarantee you that there are good people out there.  We  can be happy again and  we  will be.  

Get comfortable with asking the hard questions.   

“Who am I?”   

“Why did this have to happen?”  

“Why did it happen to  me ?”  

“What does it mean?”  

“What is my life worth with this in it?”  

These are the questions that make us human. Every human being on the planet struggl es  with these questions. This is the stuff that life is made of.  R ead more on this subject in th is  blog post,  where we study what happens when a person asks the question,   Why Me?  

The psychologist Viktor Frankel wrote about this in his landmark book  Man’s Search For Meaning.   Frankel  survived the Nazi Holocaust and he developed a clinical procedure for treating trauma that involved guiding the patient to find some meaning in their experience.  

The important thing to remember is that there’s nothing wrong with  any of us We’re survivors of  cult and  child abuse. We  don’t have a disorder.  Our  brain s  and our bod ies  are functioning normally.  WE  are normal.  We ’re dealing normally with a traumatic experience  

There is a normal, natural beginning, middle, and end to this process, and that end doesn’t include taking a drug to make it go away.  There is no magic powder a doctor can sprinkle over our head s  to make it go away.  

Each of us  will get there, and  each of us wi ll be a different person than  we  were before it happened or, in the case of child abuse, who  we  would have been had the abuse never  occurred . That has nothing to do with trauma. That’s just life. The same thing would happen if something wonderful happened to  us . We all change. We can’t stop ourselves changing, even when good things happen to us.  

Thank you for reading today. I hope this helps somebody out there. If you need help right now, leave me a copy here or click over to  www.homefree.co.nz  and hit the chatbot button at the bottom of the screen. We’ll get your problems solved so you can start living a better quality of life. You don’t have to do this alone anymore. See you there.