REAL ISSUES

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.

Approval

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Do you seek the approval of others? It’s trendy to proclaim, “I don’t care what anybody thinks,” but if that were actually true you’d be a sociopath. We all want approval and acceptance from someone. The question is whose approval we want.

It’s healthy to desire the approval of your wife. If you didn’t seek her approval then you’d be a lousy husband. We should also want the approval of those we respect like mentors, close friends, and family. Basically, the people you’d take a bullet for.

The way you can tell if someone wants approval is if they explain themselves. You should only explain yourself to those whose approval you seek (wife, tribe, boss). Anyone else is a waste of your time.

Seeking the approval of the masses is damaging. Nowhere is this seen more than in heated exchanges on Facebook. When a man argues and explains things on social media to someone that he wouldn’t take a bullet for, he’s not only wasting his time, he’s also giving power to that other person.

Make a mental short list of those whose approval you truly desire. This is your “Bullet List.” Don’t waste your time debating those not listed.

Attic Therapy

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Moving is a stressful event. But maybe not for the reasons you think. Sure there’s stress in transferring utilities and negotiating your mattress down the staircase, but it’s what’s in the attic that gets you fighting with your wife over stuff that doesn’t matter.

That’s because the attic is where we put things that we don’t want to deal with. Whenever we have something we really don’t want to discuss it goes into the attic with the noble intention of getting to it “someday.”

Life can feel manageable while all that baggage is hidden away and not discussed. But if we ever decide to move somewhere new then we’re forced to confront each unopened box and unfinished project, hold up each item to the light, and decide if it needs to remain in our life. 

Maybe your “attic” is a box under the bed. Maybe your “attic” is a death that you’ve never unpacked, or an abuse you’ve never confronted.

Moving is healthy. It makes us deal with what’s in our attic. And it’s all worth it when we arrive at a better place. Don’t let unresolved issues from your past keep you from moving forward in life.