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Gotta have Faith – The George Michael kind.

faith1

Now let’s be clear, I am not talking about religious faith.  If that’s your idea or definition of faith, have at ‘er.  But it is not what I am talking about here nor would I post about religion as that is not my thing.  It’s not up to me to tell someone else what they should or shouldn’t believe.  With that out of the way, lets get back to the post.

The faith I am talking about is something completely different and is more along the lines of hope, with a twist though.  You know what I mean because we all do it everyday of our lives.  We get faced with a choice and when we decide on what choice best fits, we begin to hope that we made the right choice.  But here’s the twist or problem with hope in this context.   When we “hope”, we take ownership away from ourselves and thrust it out to the universe.  We believe that by hoping the planets will align, the birds will soar overhead, the sun will shine the waters will calm and everything will happen as you had “hoped” it would.  It would be great if that happened but ask yourself, how often have the thing you hoped for turned out exactly how you wanted them too?

What if you begin to replace hope with faith?  So, when you get presented with a choice, you make it and have faith that you made the choice that was best for you.  You then sit back, figuratively that is, and let things happen.  You take ownership for what you decided and the course of action you put into motion.  If things work out, you bask in the glory of it all.  If it doesn’t work out, you have faith that you will make a better choice next time because of your learned experiences from making the wrong choice.  See the difference?  Very subtle but the results are huge, especially when you extrapolate them across your lifetime.

Now I know you are wonder why are you reading this philosophical dribble on a blog about PTSD.  Well, if you have been following from the start, you know that sometimes my PTSD brain takes me on these wild SQUIRREL ! moments.  But, I can usually right the ship and get back on course so here’s the reason.

Since my diagnosis, I have been functioning on the premise of faith, although I didn’t really realize it.  At first, I thought it was hope but over the last few months I came to the realization that it has always been faith.  Faith that what I am doing is the right things for me to do.  Faith that if I get up out of bed each morning, I will be able to put yet another piece of my PTSD  puzzle in the right spot and get closer to the big picture view I am seeking.  Faith that if I put in the work, I will reap the rewards.  And, faith that my PTSD isn’t in vain, that there is a reason and purpose for it.

I also began to realize that at various points in time during this journey, I have taken a number of leaps of faith, both figuratively and literally.  But let me tell you about the literal leap of faith that I believe was the most instrumental in my healing.  I had the ability to take part in a high ropes exercise in which, while rigged up with ropes, I jumped off a very shoddy platform that I feared would collapse under my weight.  I jumped trusting or more appropriately having faith in the climb Master’s skills and abilities, particularly his math skills in properly calculating the weight to stress ratio on the ropes.  I had faith that I would be okay if I just jumped and that is exactly what I did.  I jumped and my life was forever changed for the experience.

What I learned was that there will be times during my PTSD journey that I will be in uncomfortable positions in which I will be forced to make a choice.  At those times, I must accept that I just “gotta have faith” and make the choice that I think is the right one.  So far, it has been working for me.  But there are also times that I fear what it would be like if I didn’t have faith that my PTSD journey is unfolding exactly as it is supposed to happen.  When that doubt arises, its easily pushed away by remembering that this type of faith isn’t something that lasts an hour, a day, a week or years.  It becomes ingrained within your thoughts and evolves into part how you live your life.  So, you might not reap the rewards in the near future but if you truly have faith in what you are doing, at some point, you will begin to see the fruit of your labours.

Faith, you gotta have it.

The End of the Innocence.

images

Don’t mind the pic just yet, it will make sense in a few minutes after you read the post.

This has been something that I have pondered for several months now.  In fact, I began mulling this over back in July but for some reason, I couldn’t wrap my head around it completely until just recently.  So, here we go but realize that I am not talking about the belief in Santa or the Easter Bunny here.

There is no denying that policing has taken away any semblance of innocence from myself and has done the same to anyone else that chose policing as a career.  I would go so far as to say that the lost innocence conversation would extend to military, and all first responders.  And, it has happened with the full knowledge and consent of anyone agreeing to take on one of those careers.  In other words, you go into it knowing that things are going to get ugly and you are willing to accept that.

But then you must ask yourself, when did this loss of innocence really take place?  Is it the chosen career that did it or is there another point in time that you can pinpoint as the End of the Innocence?  I have figured out that I can answer without a doubt that policing wasn’t the start of this loss for me but it sure as hell is where it has ended.  Yes, a bit controversial to say although I can assure you that this isn’t something that I just proclaimed one day.  This conclusion has been the culmination of months of processing and trying to figure out when it happened and how I know for sure that it ended.

As I moved through the processing of this question, I kept on returning to my second year of university.  I had just started the next phase of my education in the Faculty of Social Work as a bright-eyed young adult who still held the belief that the world was mostly fair, particularly if you followed the rules, worked hard and did what was right.  I had established a core group of friends, four to be exact, who have remained in my life to this point, some 20 years down the road and began in earnest, the forming of my personal views and opinions on life.  Although most of those were adjusted as I entered the social service work force and then the policing universe, the basic foundations were laid.

This was also the time of living for the moment and more importantly, living for having fun.  My friends became he most important people to me as I began to branch out from family.  I worked part time to fund the life of a carefree young adult intent on having as much fun as possible without a lot of worry.  But something else began to happen during this time.  Some of the people who I thought were friends began to evolve away from me and me from them.  I had to begin to focus on my course work and I entered the wonderful world of student placements aka free labour.  Thus, began my education into a part of the world that I had only seen in the news, read in magazines and really had no desire to experience.  But there it was, real world reality.  Humanity at its worse.  The ability to fain ignorance was beginning to dissolve, and I had no choice but to walk forward into it.  The innocence of my youth was now beginning to become the reality of adulthood.

The deeper I dove into the world of social services, the deeper the loss of innocence went.  I began to see the world in a very different light, but I also began to see that things are not all doom and gloom.  There was this little thing called HOPE that could make a difference and stave off the decline into the loss.  It was powerful and allowed for a person to get through without completely losing their innocence.  And it was with that enthusiasm that I went into Depot – HOPE that my actions will make a difference along the way.

Truth be told, it wasn’t long after graduation from Depot that that hope was extinguished.  Within my first three months of my policing career I began to see the world through the narrowed lens of good and bad or good and evil if you will.  Sure, there were good moment but those were quickly taken over by the bad, by witnessing what evil humans will inflict on one another, sometime for no reason of substance i.e. for fun.  In those three months, I dealt with a suicide, numerous knockdown, drag out fights to arrest suspects, risked my life to prevent someone from killing themselves and seen some extreme examples of what one person can and will do to another person.  In the end, the results were too overpowering, and HOPE lost out.  Any illusions of maintaining innocence was gone.  It was the End of the Innocence for me.

Am I bitching about it?  Nope, not in the least.  It was a necessary evil that had to happen for me to survive the job.  And, over the years, as I got involved with bigger and bigger investigations, the idea of innocence became more obscure and distant.  Hope was hidden and this little thing called PTSD began to take hold with a slow dance of emotional espionage.

Funny thing though.  My PTSD journey has taught me a valuable lesson.   My innocence in life ended with my policing career but my hope is still there.  It has evolved from hope into a faith, not based on religion but based on a belief that innocence is still present in my life.  I can now see it and expeirence it in my son and also by looking for the good inherent within every living, breathing being.  Mine might be gone but I can revel in the beauty of witnessing it live on in others.  And when you see it again after being away from it for so long, it truly is a thing of beauty.

More Love, Less Judgement.

 

Ah, the picture.  Almost forgot about it.  The title of the blog post and the picture represents a song that had meaning to a dear friend of mine and myself as well.  So, the first person that correctly names the Artist, the Song and the Album will win a prize (value is about $30.00).  To make it fair, email all answers through the Contact me page on the Blog.  Good luck

 

Where the hell is Waldo?

Yep, that’s the million-dollar question isn’t it? The sad part is that the answer is actually quite simple, I’m right here…..

But there is no denying the fact that I have been MIA for the better part of the last few months.  So, then the million-dollar question becomes, Why?  Well, that isn’t as simple of an answer.  There are some parts of the answer that I can share and some I can’t.  Suffice to say that the break was needed on a few different levels to make sure that I was functioning at my best.

And make no mistake about it, this break wasn’t a holiday in any way, shape or form.  It has been a period of some heavy, roll up your sleeves and dig in mental health / wellness work.  Suffice to say, and evident by the fact that I am posting again, I seem to have pushed through and turned the corner back towards a more balanced life.  It is a reminder that things can go sideways fast and if you don’t catch it quick enough, you will have your work cut out for you.

Like always though, I remain guarded, in a healthy way, to make sure that I keep tabs on how I am doing.  It has become part of my life now.  Constantly checking in with myself to see if I’m doing okay.  It is like my own private game of Where’s Waldo is playing out in my head as I am always wanting to know where I am at emotionally and mentally throughout the day.  So far, I have been able to find Waldo each time even if it takes a bit of time.  I fear that one time however that I go looking for Waldo and he is no where around.  I already have a plan for that (yeah hypervigilance) and will be reaching out to my Care and Support network for some help so fear not.

I know you’re reading this and saying that I have fallen out of touch with reality if I think that I am playing Where’s Waldo in my head but bare with me.  My Where’s Waldo game is simply me sitting down and meditating.  In those moments when my eyes are closed, my mind is focussed on my breathing and I just sit with the moment, I find Waldo.  But the goal is to be consistent because Waldo likes to hide and play tricks so if you aren’t on top of your game, you are in for a long search and a bumpy rollercoaster ride.  When you are on top of your mediation game, the search for Waldo goes fast.

In the last little while, my search for Waldo has begun to happen outside of my meditation times as well.  And this is awesome when it happens.  It means that I am bring mindfulness into my everyday life and I can assure you, things become so much easier to experience.  So, I encourage anyone, whether you are on a PTSD journey or not, to start your own personal Where’s Waldo game.  You might find Waldo and be amazed at what you learn.

On a different note, I have about 3 or 4 posts that I have been dabbling with over the past few months and plan to finish them off in the next few weeks.  One will also include a contest for a fucking awesome prize……  But, working on those posts and taking a break from posting for a bit has also made me examine the future of the CrackedBadge page.  I am looking at a relaunch shortly, more fitting of where I am now and where I am heading in my PTSD / Life journey (see, there is a little hint – the Rabbit hole opened up and this is more than just about PTSD now).

 

You Wanted the Best……

kiss-1

And, you got me instead.  How lucky you are!

Actually, a more fitting title would have been “What I learned at the KISS concert in Toronto” or something along those lines but, would it have been as catchy?

But seriously, in the least expected of places and times, I learned a very important lesson about my PTSD journey.  In some ways, it also concretized an emerging belief I have been mulling around in my head for the past few week.  Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me get to the start of the story.

Saturday night was the KISS concert in Toronto.  As I usually do for concerts, I booked a room at a local hotel so that there would be no concerns about having to drive home after.  So, my buddy picked me up, we went to the Go Train and headed into Toronto for the night.  I could stop the story right here and go into detail about the amount of anxiety I had building up for weeks about taking the train.  Or the new and messed up trust issues I have begun to develop (apparently a bit of a spin off of my latest PTSD issues) over the last few weeks, or I could go on about the irrational fears of some catastrophic event taking place.  Maybe in another post.  This one is about growth.

After checking in, having a few pregame warm up drinks, supper and a quick change into the appropriate KISS t-shirt, it was go time.  We headed to the arena and in we went.  Usually, I get right into the flow and start snapping pic after pic of the concert as a means of “remembering” the show but this time, I didn’t.  I had a very different goal and plan in mind.  I was simply going to be there, in the moment and enjoy the show as it happened.  I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I could even do it but I was going to try.  Even with the two police/two paramedics with the stretcher or the mental ill guy sitting beside me that got kicked out after he threatened to “fuck me up”, I was determined to be in the moment.

Now, before I go any further, I am not slamming anyone that sits back and videos portions of the show or snaps pics.  Hell, I use to do that myself.  In this day and age, it is the nature of the beast but I wanted to try going “old school” if you will about the whole experience.  And you know what, I was surprised by the outcome.

I stood and sat with the flow of the audience.  I moved to the music and stared intently at the stage as I watched the band go through song after song intermixed with Paul doing his best to get the crowd going.  I would catch myself from time to time wandering off to the screens behind the band to get a close up view of what was happening but as soon as I realized my focus had changed, back to Paul or Gene I would go with my focus.  Memories from previous concerts or even times with friends surfaced in my mind as a result of the power of the music.  It was blissfully enjoyable on more than just the surface level of being at a concert.  I was allowing the experience to move me and move through me.  I was just there.

At times, I would glance at those around me and see how there were taking in the show.  Each person did so in there own way and I am sure that they were touched by it in their own way, with their own memories coming to the foreground.  But I also saw those that were so focussed on catching the moment on their phones (a few people I saw were actually recoding almost he entire concert, or at least their favourite songs) that they were no longer in the moment.  I kind of felt sorry for them at that moment.  In their desire to preserve the moment, they were actually missing the moment.  (I thought of a picture I saw of an elderly woman just being in the moment and taking in an event while others were on their phones.)

missing hte moment

So where am I getting with all this?  Well, it comes down to mindfulness and the power of being in the moment, in the here and now and allowing all other things to fall to the wayside during the moment.  That was my goal and that is exactly what I did and exactly what I experienced.  I put the last 9 months of mindfulness training into practice in a high energy, high volume, high paced activity and everything slowed down to what was happening in the moment.

For the two hours plus of the concert (except for the times I was distracted by the messed up guy), I simply took in the moment for what it was.  An experience.  When the pyros would fire or the fog machine would blast, or even when Paul did his zip line to the crowd stage, I kept in the moment.  By the end of the show, I was energized.  My mind was racing and I began to process it.  When we got back to the hotel, I was blabbing like a madman about anything and everything.  I delved in the story of my journey and the new growth I have been experiencing, partly because I didn’t know how to talk about what I just experienced.  But I had to talk about something and my journey seemed like the most appropriate.

As I journaled yesterday and continued to process my experience, things began to come into focus.  I realized, with he help of a KISS concert that my PTSD journey is all about achieving a goal.  A goal aided by being in the moment, the here and now and just allowing yourself to be.  By doing this, I found out that goal always has been and always will be finding PEACE in the moment, with my past and what my future might hold.

Peace, something that is achieved by being mindful, by being honest about yourself and by honouring your experiences.  Peace, which you can extend to others through More Love and Less Judgement.

 

Abby Something or other………

abby1

Yep, we are going to chat about my new normal or abnormal if you will.  (And, DAMN……..  I didn’t realize how much time elapsed since my last post.)

The fact is that I am trying and at times struggling to sort through my new Normal/Abnormal life and that is the reason that I haven’t posted in awhile.  It’s not like I have written a couple of draft blog posts only to delete them because I didn’t like the flow or the content that I wrote about.  During this time of upheaval and exploration, I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around anything specific.  It is almost like I am in a bit of a fog, not quite sure where things are headed yet still trying to focus on going forward.  It has been a period of a lot of thought and also some heavy duty focus on family time.  But, pitter patter, time to get at ‘er.

So, for all intent and purposes, my PTSD is at the in-remission stage of things if you will.  I still have it, but I am able to deal with it.  Basically, I describe it as being a sober alcoholic – I’ve dealt with the causes, have my tools and will now be in recovery for the rest of my life.  It really is a fairly good comparison.  And yes, I am one of those people that don’t believe you get cured from PTSD.  Instead, I see it as a matter of learning to live with it.  It becomes a lifestyle in some ways in which you dance with the things that happen around you so that you don’t absorb anymore trauma yet you are present in the moment and deal with whatever is before you.  That’s pretty much where I am at these days.  It is not easy but it isn’t as hard as the work I put in to get here.

For me, part of my new normal is trying to stick with my daily routines (cue lifestyle) so that I am prepared for the day as well as trying to process things that come up.  To be honest, it is more of the latter that has been presenting the issues as of late.  That’s not to say that I have a perfect routine but for the most part, I am doing enough to get me through right now but there is room for improvement.  Mostly, I need to get consistent with physical activity again as a means of venting the pent up energy I seem to have.  As for the processing of things, to quote Willy Shakespeare “Ay, there’s the rub.”

I find that it is very easy for my mind to get sucked into the negativity vortex and take up a front row seat at the Itty Bitty Shitty committee’s community forum in my head.  The good news is that I can recognize it happening and take evasive maneuvers to correct it before it gets too late.  The bad news is that there are times that I almost enjoy the feeling, like putting on the old cozy sweater on a cool day (ironic considering that the temperatures are so out of wack).  You start down the old “stitch and bitch” session with yourself and you strive to win the one person debate club argument.  And anyone who knows me is aware of my love of a good argument that might have something to do with my Irish roots.  At some point during the slide, I realize that even if it feels good at the moment, I have to exit from it to protect myself.

There have also been times in which I begin to over process situations to the point of becoming stuck.  This is a newer phenomenon for me and can very quickly begin to spiral out of control.  Part of it is that I have always liked to think through a situation but now, I analyse the situation, begin to go through potential options or routes to take and then analyse each option.  In fact, it is almost an uncontrolled desire to control every aspect of a task so that I can deal with the outcome.  From doing a bit of research however, it appears that this is a normal action that many with PTSD do.  It’s an attempt to control the outcome so that you don’t have to worry about the journey to get there.  A very skewed hypervigilance if you will.

Imagine being asked to go to the store to pick up some groceries.  Seems simple enough right.  But in my PTSD mind, I map out the route to the store, the parking lot, the layout inside the store, the approx. time I will need to be in there and my return trip.  My mind also adds things like, what if: you get rear ended, you get t-boned going through the light, the parking lot is full, the store is closed, blah, blah, blah……  That kind of skewed hypervigilance that makes you think of EVERY possible variable, plausible or not.  You want to be prepared for anything and everything to happen or even the mere long shot possibility that something strange and unusual might happen.  You gotta be ready folks………  Not really but that’s my committee’s thinking.

This past while has also been rough because I began to slip into a desire to try and appease others by changing how I was doing things.  Like I said above, I have a routine that works for me but I figured I could tweak it because I was doing so well.  I quickly found out that any small change to my routine definitely carries with it a ripple effect that messes up the rest of the routine.  Okay, in keeping with my goal of being honest in this journey, it might have taken two separate attempts to change things up for me to catch on.  I never claimed to be anything more than a trained monkey or as Bubbles (query Trailer Park Boys) puts it, “A Space Cadet”.  Call it stubborn, call it stupid, call it trying to hold on to the past.  Whatever you call it, it comes down to just plain dumb.

In the past few months I have come to understand what normal or abnormal means to me now.  It is a painful lesson to learn and I will be dealing with the ripple effects for a bit.  So much so that I decided, in consultation with my psychologist that I needed to step back away from work for awhile.  The funny thing is that I don’t see it as a negative.  In fact, I view it as growth and a huge positive in my journey.  I need to re-settle back into the routine and lifestyle that was working for me, without trying it to change to appease others.  My life will always have this tag along friend called PTSD and because if it, I have to evolve to understand it and live with it from here on out.  Lesson learned and message received.

As my Doctor stated “You now know what your new Normal is.”  How true he is.

 

Abby Something or other………

abby1

Yep, we are going to chat about my new normal or abnormal if you will.  (And, DAMN……..  I didn’t realize how much time elapsed since my last post.)

The fact is that I am trying and at times struggling to sort through my new Normal/Abnormal life and that is the reason that I haven’t posted in awhile.  It’s not like I have written a couple of draft blog posts only to delete them because I didn’t like the flow or the content that I wrote about.  During this time of upheaval and exploration, I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around anything specific.  It is almost like I am in a bit of a fog, not quite sure where things are headed yet still trying to focus on going forward.  It has been a period of a lot of thought and also some heavy duty focus on family time.  But, pitter patter, time to get at ‘er.

So, for all intent and purposes, my PTSD is at the in-remission stage of things if you will.  I still have it, but I am able to deal with it.  Basically, I describe it as being a sober alcoholic – I’ve dealt with the causes, have my tools and will now be in recovery for the rest of my life.  It really is a fairly good comparison.  And yes, I am one of those people that don’t believe you get cured from PTSD.  Instead, I see it as a matter of learning to live with it.  It becomes a lifestyle in some ways in which you dance with the things that happen around you so that you don’t absorb anymore trauma yet you are present in the moment and deal with whatever is before you.  That’s pretty much where I am at these days.  It is not easy but it isn’t as hard as the work I put in to get here.

For me, part of my new normal is trying to stick with my daily routines (cue lifestyle) so that I am prepared for the day as well as trying to process things that come up.  To be honest, it is more of the latter that has been presenting the issues as of late.  That’s not to say that I have a perfect routine but for the most part, I am doing enough to get me through right now but there is room for improvement.  Mostly, I need to get consistent with physical activity again as a means of venting the pent up energy I seem to have.  As for the processing of things, to quote Willy Shakespeare “Ay, there’s the rub.”

I find that it is very easy for my mind to get sucked into the negativity vortex and take up a front row seat at the Itty Bitty Shitty committee’s community forum in my head.  The good news is that I can recognize it happening and take evasive maneuvers to correct it before it gets too late.  The bad news is that there are times that I almost enjoy the feeling, like putting on the old cozy sweater on a cool day (ironic considering that the temperatures are so out of wack).  You start down the old “stitch and bitch” session with yourself and you strive to win the one person debate club argument.  And anyone who knows me is aware of my love of a good argument that might have something to do with my Irish roots.  At some point during the slide, I realize that even if it feels good at the moment, I have to exit from it to protect myself.

There have also been times in which I begin to over process situations to the point of becoming stuck.  This is a newer phenomenon for me and can very quickly begin to spiral out of control.  Part of it is that I have always liked to think through a situation but now, I analyse the situation, begin to go through potential options or routes to take and then analyse each option.  In fact, it is almost an uncontrolled desire to control every aspect of a task so that I can deal with the outcome.  From doing a bit of research however, it appears that this is a normal action that many with PTSD do.  It’s an attempt to control the outcome so that you don’t have to worry about the journey to get there.  A very skewed hypervigilance if you will.

Imagine being asked to go to the store to pick up some groceries.  Seems simple enough right.  But in my PTSD mind, I map out the route to the store, the parking lot, the layout inside the store, the approx. time I will need to be in there and my return trip.  My mind also adds things like, what if: you get rear ended, you get t-boned going through the light, the parking lot is full, the store is closed, blah, blah, blah……  That kind of skewed hypervigilance that makes you think of EVERY possible variable, plausible or not.  You want to be prepared for anything and everything to happen or even the mere long shot possibility that something strange and unusual might happen.  You gotta be ready folks………  Not really but that’s my committee’s thinking.

This past while has also been rough because I began to slip into a desire to try and appease others by changing how I was doing things.  Like I said above, I have a routine that works for me but I figured I could tweak it because I was doing so well.  I quickly found out that any small change to my routine definitely carries with it a ripple effect that messes up the rest of the routine.  Okay, in keeping with my goal of being honest in this journey, it might have taken two separate attempts to change things up for me to catch on.  I never claimed to be anything more than a trained monkey or as Bubbles (query Trailer Park Boys) puts it, “A Space Cadet”.  Call it stubborn, call it stupid, call it trying to hold on to the past.  Whatever you call it, it comes down to just plain dumb.

In the past few months I have come to understand what normal or abnormal means to me now.  It is a painful lesson to learn and I will be dealing with the ripple effects for a bit.  So much so that I decided, in consultation with my psychologist that I needed to step back away from work for awhile.  The funny thing is that I don’t see it as a negative.  In fact, I view it as growth and a huge positive in my journey.  I need to re-settle back into the routine and lifestyle that was working for me, without trying it to change to appease others.  My life will always have this tag along friend called PTSD and because if it, I have to evolve to understand it and live with it from here on out.  Lesson learned and message received.

As my Doctor stated “You now know what your new Normal is.”  How true he is.

 

Da Nile

denial

 

Denial, it is one of the most dangerous mental thought process action that anyone faces.  And, believe me when I say it is even more dangerous when it is coupled with PTSD.  How you ask, can it be dangerous to anyone?  Well, it is and I will try to show just how dangerous it can be as it pertains to the PTSD journey and by extension life in general.

The Before

Almost immediately before a traumatic incident, you begin to enter the world of denial.  As the incident rolls out before you, your mind starts to question if what is happening is real.  The question then leads to a health dose of doubt, “this can’t be real” or “there is no way this is happening right now”.  But sadly, the reality is that it is happening, it is real and your mind is trying to protect you by saying that it isn’t.

The During

Once you get hit with the reality that the traumatic incident that you didn’t believe was actually happening had actually happened, you enter into a whole other level of denial.  And, I think in many ways, this is where the true danger resides for a person with PTSD.  You first begin to doubt that you were affected by the trauma.  I know for myself, this was huge.  There was no way the things that were happening for me had anything to do with the trauma, even though the physical symptoms began to show almost exactly one year after the trauma.  I remember telling myself that there is no way that this is related.  And heck, I did it for a second time when I was being hit physically with the repercussions of my denial.

The denial can become so intense that even when you are diagnosed with PTSD, you question the reality and validity of the diagnosis.  “There is no fucking way in hell that I have PTSD.”  It is the point in which many people avoid getting help.  They isolate themselves trying to convince themselves that their PTSD isn’t real or that it isn’t as bad as what they are saying.  “PTSD isn’t any big deal, I’ll get through this with ease.”  But, what’s really happening is that the denial has decided to bring along its really good friend and lover, FEAR.  Together, the two welcome the darkness where they can flourish without hesitation.  You begin to agree with the denial and almost feel like you have a handle on things because “its not that bad”.

These are the times when you start keeping your PTSD a secret from everyone, including your loved ones.  You have denied it’s existence and therefore, you don’t have it and you definitely don’t need to tell anyone about it.  Your denial pushed by fear tells you things like “people will think you’re crazy” or “you will be stigmatized for life” and my favourite, “no one is going to want to be with you / around you if you have PTSD”.  The denial gets stronger and stronger and so does the isolation because your mind knows that eventually you will be found out.  Your fake smile and happy disposition is about to come down all around you.

And when you finally have no choice but to admit that you have PTSD and seek help, the denial still hangs around.  Lots of times, whether it be in therapy or a peer support group, you will continue to use denial as a coping mechanism.  You hold back from your therapist because if you are honest about what’s really going on, you are afraid you won’t be able to handle reality.  You deny yourself the chance to get better.  In peer settings, you cater your narrative to present as someone who has everything together.  You deny yourself the chance to get the support you need and deserve.  Denial is very dangerous.

The Other Side

For all intent and purpose, you’ve broken through the darkness.  You are back into the light and are feeling pretty good.  Life seems to be getting better and you are beginning to see the positives from all your hard work.  But, and this is a big but, you begin to question it.  Much like how you questioned the trauma actually happening, you now begin to question if you made it through.  You deny that you are on the road to recovery.  Out of fear that what you are experiencing is true, you doubt yourself.  You start to plan for the next shoe to drop again, for a trigger to set you back and for your life to go to shit once again.  You begin to deny yourself the life you worked so fucking hard to achieve.  And, if you’re not careful, this doubt will turn into a massive pitfall for you.

So, what can you do to battle against Denial?  Embrace it, accept it, label it, shelve it, deal with it and put it to bed.  You need to recognize that you are in denial about your PTSD, about the power that it holds over you and the control that you have granted it.  If you continue to deny the existence of denial, you are simply setting yourself to continue in the darkness.  It becomes one of the choices that you have to make and the sooner you make it, the easier it will get.  When you sit down with your therapist, think of it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to deal with all those skeletons in your closet.  Open up and share.  When you are in a peer support group, be honest.  If you are struggling, tell people, ask for help.  Push beyond the denial.

Don’t deny it, lean into it.