There are many different scenarios that can lead a person to experience PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). As a person who has had to deal with PTSD and knows about the extreme “fight or flight” response and adrenaline that accompanies this severe disorder, I know how painful it can be to deal with. Not everyone with the disorder will “overcome” the severity of symptoms that they experience, but after putting up with the rapid-thinking, extreme sense of fear, flashbacks, and hyperarousal for years, part of you will want to move on.
If you are ready to acknowledge that part of your spirit is ready to move on to a state of living free of “fear” and free of this “fight or flight” response, this is when you know you are ready to attempt to deal with PTSD. For me, I honestly thought I was going to live in a state of fear for the rest of my existence. In totality, my experience with PTSD ended up lasting about 8 years. Mine was brought about by a severe life-threatening diagnosis at the doctor. I’m not going to get into all the details, but let’s just say that I became so scared, that I was literally hyperfocused on every breath, every heartbeat, and my senses were off the charts; normal sounds were like sonic booms.
The adrenaline built up inside of my body and triggered a state of hypervigilance and extreme discomfort. I eventually reached a point where I was ready to throw in the towel and commit suicide. This suicidal feeling lasted years and I was basically just doing whatever I could to cope with this trapped emotion. When you experience PTSD, your adrenal glands become hyperactivated to the point that even the smallest trigger can set you off. Now I’m not sure whether everyone is able to overcome their PTSD, but the key has to do with lowering your arousal and essentially re-wiring your brain.
First and foremost, you should know that recovery is NOT immediate and it will take many months and in some cases, years for your level of stimulation to drop back to a comfortable/functional range. Recovery is NOT easy at all and requires a TON of courage and personal effort. You basically have to risk your entire reality and state of consciousness and have to be willing to face all of your demons again. See when the “fear energy” takes over your body, it prevents you from remembering times in your life when you were actually relaxed. Memories become suppressed, and you cannot cope.
How to Overcome and Cure PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
There is no set of specific guidelines that need to be followed to overcome PTSD, but the one thing that you need to keep in mind is that your brain and body are stuck in a state of excessive stimulation (i.e. hyperdrive). The key has to do with slowing them down enough to let your brain re-wire itself back to normal. In my experience, the “come down” from the peak of my stimulation lasted about 4 years – and took a lot of conscious effort on my part.
Below are some tips that I have used to lower my level of adrenaline, re-wire my nervous system, and cope with everything that I have experienced. Not only do you need to lower your arousal, but you need to “desensitize” yourself to the intrusive memory or trauma that you had experienced. Also, you don’t need to necessarily do everything I listed below to overcome your PTSD, I am just listing things based on my experience.
Everyone is different and what works for one person may seem like a total crock of sh*t to another. If you want to get better, you will need to give some new things a chance before assuming they won’t work. If you keep doing the same things, you will stay stuck in your hyperaroused state.
Initially, you need to first admit that you have PTSD and accept it. It has had a profound impact on your life and you need to acknowledge that. The trauma that you endured that lead to the disorder needs to be accepted. If you try to deny or block it out of your thoughts, you won’t recover.
Perhaps the most important step to take when you have PTSD is to go in for some talk therapy. If you are able to develop a connection with a therapist that actually empathizes with you and your situation, it can make all the difference in the world. Eventually the goal in therapy may be to re-visit the traumatic experience and learn to accept it.
Initially, it may seem damn near impossible open up about things, but taking the first initial step to get in for help is crucial. I recommend going in at least once a week for psychotherapy for the first couple months if you’re PTSD is very severe. If you don’t connect with your therapist, you should keep searching until you find someone that you connect with.
Once you have accepted your condition and have been in therapy for awhile, you will eventually need to face your memory of the trauma head on. This will likely be very emotional and painful, but it’s what needs to be done. Perhaps it is the most crucial step of all. One technique that the therapist used on me is called EMDR – it involved lights moving back and forth.
The idea is to get both hemispheres of the brain to desensitize themselves to the trauma and reprocess the traumatic event with eye movement. Some say it’s a hoax, some buy into it. For me it certainly helped, but I honestly think it was more of a placebo than anything. The goal here is to talk with your therapist to help you come up with some ways to desensitize yourself to the trauma. If they are a good therapist, they should be ready for this step.
Desensitizing yourself to the trauma is a good thing, but reprocessing the memory is key. As you reprocess the memory, you need to change the way you think about it / let it control you. Looking back you need to realize that what happened is done, and served as a crazy catalyst for change. Even though it may have ruined your life, you are still here and are strong. Looking at the memory in a different light with the help of your therapist will be a crucial step.
If you are in a “funk” and feel stuck in the same ole routine, it’s a good idea to change things up. I realize how difficult it can be when you are trapped or don’t necessarily have an outgoing personality, but getting involved in healthy activities are crucial. Sitting around in your room or being alone are not good. I realize that some days it’s just impossible, but do your best and keep trying to push your comfort zone.
6. Reduce stress
Part of reducing adrenaline and all of the excess energy that comes with PTSD is by exercising or meditation or yoga or doing anything you can to reduce stress and anxiety. You need to calm the flight-or-fight response to a manageable level. Check out my 10 Natural Cures for Anxiety – many of these things apply to PTSD and recovery too. I would recommend not overdoing it with the cardio, and sticking to a weight lifting program and/or something like yoga. Cardio in excess can sometimes cause more stress, so try not to fall into this trap.
7. Face your fears
The very last step after you have reprocessed your trauma is to face any lingering fears. Part of my condition had me hypersensitive to loud noises. Obviously I didn’t want to go deaf by facing “loud music” but I went to a couple concerts and made myself go in situations that were linked to triggering fear. This is an advanced step and should only be done when you’re truly ready otherwise it may re-trigger something. You will know when the time feels right.
8. Let time pass
Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. It took me over 4 years to recover from my condition. You will know you are on the path to recovery when things that previously bothered you a lot are no longer causing emotional pain. Another way to tell you are in remission is by a reduction in stress response. You will notice less tension/adrenaline and feel more relaxed. Usually the body will relax before the mind. For me I had a relaxed body, yet super fast thoughts circulating for months. Eventually the mind slowed down to match the body and old emotions started coming back.
Ask yourself: Do I really want to overcome PTSD?
If you really want to overcome the condition of PTSD – you can, but it may very well feel like passing through the gates of hell many times throughout your recovery. There were times when I didn’t care about getting things fixed and just wanted to give up and commit suicide.
Additionally, I am by no means guaranteeing that this will be a way for everybody to recover or get cured. I’m just sharing what worked for me and what is possible for some individuals. I also realize that not everyone wants to re-visit the initial trauma because of the intense pain it is associated with. I reached a low point that made me wake up one day and just say “screw it” I’m going to do all that I can to overcome this and if I don’t, well at least I’ll have tried.
I hit a point in life where my only option was suicide or try something to improve my situation. Even if you don’t fully recover from your condition, I do think that what I’ve listed here can help you get some joy back into your life and at the very least reduce some of the stress you are experiencing. Full recovery involves changing from a fight or flight, fear based state of being back to homeostasis – how you felt before the stress ever occurred; this is a long journey.
The PTSD and all its symptoms are basically like a patch of fear blocking the real person you always were from shining through. PTSD is unique in the fact that it gives you a different perspective on reality and the world. Certainly not everyone will have the same case as mine, but I wanted to share what worked for me just in case it could help someone out there.