Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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If you’re like most people, you’re not entirely sure what PTSD really is.

PTSD is not just bad memories and scary dreams. It’s a neurological condition in which, after experiencing trauma, the parasympathetic nervous system fails to return to its pre-trauma state [1]. The brain is essentially stuck in fight or flight.

We needed that adrenaline to survive the trauma, but we also need it to reside afterward. Like needing to step on the gas pedal to drive someone to a hospital, we also need the brakes to stop the car once we get there.

When someone with PTSD has a flashback their brain does not register it as a memory of the past but rather as an event happening in the present. Their gas pedal is stuck.

Living in a constant state of alert can make conversations and relationships nearly impossible. That’s why some people with PTSD shut down entirely. The body cannot stay revved up forever. Others might only feel normal riding a motorcycle or skydiving because it puts their body back into a traumatic scenario that matches their feelings.

There is hope. Treatment does help. Over the next few weeks we’ll explore more aspects involved in trauma recovery.

 

 

[1] Van der Kolk, Bessel A. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. 2014.

The Yes Man

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Whenever you say yes to something you give it a piece of your time – essentially a piece of your life. You can either give your life away in small pieces to 100 trifling endeavors like an amateur, or you can be great at one or two things like a pro.

Even good, noble things will rob you of your life one little piece at a time if you let them. I love backpacking, fly fishing, deer hunting, reading, sailing, cycling, and soccer. But I can’t say yes to all of that, plus be involved in my church men’s group, and my kid’s sports, and dates with my wife. Not to mention my job. Clearly, we can’t do everything we want to do.

Every time we say yes to something we’re hooked by it. And the more hooks we have with lines going to all these things we’ve said yes to make us become puppets.

Cut ties with the old amateur you that said yes to everything. Say yes only to your top three endeavors. Say yes only to the things that you can't live without.

Do Hard Things

   Michael Hans    has done a few hard things.

Michael Hans has done a few hard things.

Want to know the secret to happiness?  Do hard things. When we do hard things our brain releases endorphins that elevate our mood and make us happy.

Accomplishing a difficult challenge like restoring an old car, building a wooden picnic table, or yes, even running a marathon will produce a lasting pleasure that laying around watching Netflix can never deliver.

When a project that you’ve started gets harder than you realized you can either quit or stick with it. It’s going to be hard either way. The difference is hard now or hard later. If you decide to finish then it’s going to be hard now temporarily, but if you decide to quit you’ll be disappointed in yourself forever.

If choosing the easy way out brought happiness then no one with a couch and a pizza would ever be depressed. We essentially need challenges in our life. We’re designed to do hard things.

The world is full of sad, depressed people who fell for the lie that comfort would make them happy. Don’t fall into that trap. Do hard things.