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Monday, August 30, 2010

PTSD Leftovers

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) leaves so many things behind.  The way you respond to various situations.  Fear, just waiting for its chance.  Memories you'd rather not have.

But there are other remnants.  Things you may not realize are part of PTSD.  Things like those is the lists below.

These lists are taken from an article, Three Levels of Victimization.  (I have no idea who the original author was; I've found it several places.  If you want the entire 9-page article, email me and I'll send it to you.)

Victim Thinking:
• I have to accept bad situations because they are part of life, and I can do nothing to make them better.
• I don’t expect much good to happen in my life.
• Nobody could ever love me.
• I am always going to feel sad, angry, depressed, confused, etc.
• There are situations at work and at home that I could do something about, but I don’t have the motivation to do so.
• Life overwhelms me, so I prefer to be alone whenever possible.
• You can’t trust anyone except for a few good people.
• I feel I have to be extra good, competent, attractive, etc., in order to compensate for my many defects.
• I feel guilty for many things, even things that I know are not my fault.
• I feel I have to explain myself to people so that they will understand me. But sometimes I get tired of explaining, conclude it’s not worth the effort, and stay alone.
• I’m often afraid to do something for fear I will make a mistake.
• I can’t afford to be wrong.
• I feel that when people look and me, they know right away that I’m different.
• Sometimes I think that those who died during the traumatic event I experienced were better off than me. At least, they don’t have to live with the memories.
• I am afraid of the future.
• Most times I think things will never get better. There is not much I can do to make my life better.
• I can be either a perfectionist or a total slob, depending on my mood.
• I tend to see people as either for me or against me.
• I feel pressure to go along with others, even when I don’t want to. To avoid such pressures, I avoid people.
• I am never going to get over what happened to me.
• I find myself apologizing for myself to others.
• I have very few choices in life.

• I should be the epitome of generosity and unselfishness.
• I should be the perfect lover, friend, parent, teacher, student, spouse, etc.
• I should be able to find a quick solution to every problem.
• I should never feel hurt; I should always feel happy and serene.
• I should be completely competent.
• I should know, understand, and foresee everything.
• I should never feel certain emotions, such as anger and jealousy.
• I should never make mistakes.
• I should be totally self-reliant.
• I should never be afraid.
• I should have achievements that bring me status, wealth, and power.
• I should always be busy; to relax is to waste my time and my life.
• I should be able to protect my loved ones from all pain.
• I should not take time just for my own pleasure.

In other words, thinking errors that can really screw up our lives.  Like the original trauma wasn't enough, now we have behaviors and beliefs that lead us to contiue to wreck things for ourselves.

When I list these, they may sound common.  You may never have had what you'd consider real trauma and still experience these.  I'm not talking about occasional struggles.

I am talking about debilitating.  I am talking about constant.  I am talking about overpowering.  Most or all of them.  Most or all of the time.  They dictate your entire life.

And I don't know if it's possible to get rid of all of them entirely.  But it is possible to start to doubt them.  To start to see them as a possible lie.  To challenge old thinking styles.

And it's worth learning how.


Day said...

One of the classic texts on PTSD opens with the difference between trauma survivors who develop PTSD and those who don't; those who develop PTSD at some point start to form their identity around the trauma.

So simple, no? Almost as though it could have been avoided. But you don't get those kinds of choices when you're a kid; no one says, "Hey, you know that thing you feel horribly guilty and sick about but don't even think of as trauma? Don't worry about it so much. If you do, it will change how you see the world and who you are for the rest of your life."

It does offer an interesting insight. If PTSD comes from how you shape your identity, curing it means re-shaping your identity. Not light work.

Maggie May said...

It has been my life's work to recover from my childhood traumas. I appreciate this blog.

From Tracie said...

What an interesting list. I definitely deal with some of these things.

From Tracie said...

Just checking in. Thinking about you today. Hope you are well!