Saturday, January 2, 2010

They don't hate you, they hate what is happening to you

They don't hate you, they hate what is happening to you
Chaplain Kathie

If you have PTSD and are under the impression you are hiding it, you're not. You cannot hide what PTSD is doing to you. They notice how you are no longer laughing like you used to. They notice every part of you has changed including how they felt loved by you. They hear you in the middle of the night when the nightmares come. They see you when a flashback takes you back into combat. As you self-medicate to kill off feeling pain, you may say "I'm not hurting anyone." in order to justify yourself, but the truth is, you are hurting yourself and everyone in your life.

Your spouse, the one you promised to stay with in sickness and health, cannot understand that you do not suddenly hate her/him but are wounded inside.

Your kids don't understand and they feel as if you don't even like them anymore.

Your parents don't understand why their child, the man/woman they watched grow from infancy, has suddenly turned into a cold stranger in the body of their child.

Is it so easy to accept the idea they think you are a drug addict or alcoholic over having PTSD? Do you really think they admire you for coming home drunk? High? Talking tough? Getting into trouble? Do you want them to hate you so that no longer allowing yourself to feel anything for them is justified? Why is it so hard for you to remember that these people loved you no matter what happened before in your life?

They prayed for you before you left, while you were gone and thanked God because they assumed you came home fine. They loved you every time you achieved something just as much as they loved you every time you failed. They rejoiced for you just as much as they grieved for you but now you think they will not be there for you because you have PTSD. They knew "you" but they don't understand what has happened to change you unless you explain it to them.

The general public has very little understanding when it comes to PTSD. Your family is no different. Most of them say that while you were deployed, they had enough to worry about, so most did not even pay attention to the news and you didn't tell them much while you were gone either. They were not detached from you but detached from what you were going through just as much as they are detached from what is happening to you now that you're back. They cannot understand how to help you if you keep pushing them away instead of getting them involved back in your life.

If you are a veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan, now is the time to ask them to help you. Show them this video and let them know anger coming out of you is born out of the pain you are carrying. Let them understand that you are carrying what you went thru even if you do not go into detail with them. Help they understand what PTSD is and stop thinking there is more shame in being wounded than there is in being what they think you're becoming.

While this video was developed for National Guardsmen, it applies to all combat veterans. Use it to help them understand why you act the way you do, say the things you do and have not said what you should have said a long time ago.

If you think for a second it's too late for you to heal, it's not. Today Vietnam veterans are finally beginning to heal, feel again, hope again, love again. It is not too late for them so it is not too late for you. When you start to seek help to heal, PTSD stops being able to increase the pain you feel. It stops getting worse.

When you begin to heal the first thing most experience is a flood of emotions, usually tears coming out feeling as if they will never stop falling. All of your emotions have been trapped behind a wall of pain built to protect yourself from more pain. The only emotion you felt safe to let out was anger but everything else was trapped behind the wall. Getting help cracks the wall and the release of emotions trapped behind it start to come out. That's why you cry. Pain is the emotion you felt first and is the strongest one. It has to be released first.

Once the pain is released then you can begin to find hope of being alive again. This will be your own alive day just as when a soldier has experienced a horrific wound awakening in the hospital calls the day they survived as their alive day. This is the day you begin to live again.

Stop trying to get the people in your life to get away from you and start to get them back in your life again.

Do you want to be homeless? What will that prove? That you don't need anyone in your life? Try surviving on the street with no one giving you a buck or two, or without anyone giving you food at a shelter or a blanket to keep you warmer. No matter what you want to believe, you do need people in your life and no one really lives without someone else helping them. It can either be your family or it can be total strangers but you do need someone.

Do you want to go to jail because you wanted to do drugs more than you wanted to be on medication? Do you want your family to really believe you hate them? Is it so much easier to put the burden of your wound onto their shoulders and make them suffer for what you will not tell them? Whatever you think will be easier to do instead of asking them to help you heal, you're wrong. They loved you before and they still love you now. Ask them for help and shove that stupid pride back where it belongs because as much as you want to think you're hiding the fact you're human, you're not fooling anyone.

The fact is that PTSD only comes after trauma, which is caused by something out of your control, from the outside attacking you. It "picked" on you because you have the ability to care more than others, have more compassion than others, feel deeper than others. It does not mean you are not courageous. It means you had the courage to act because you cared and now you can use the same courage to heal. Do you want to feel good things again? Do you think you can without getting drunk or high? You may have not noticed but when you are drunk or high, you surly don't look very happy. You are also unable to "feel" the good stuff humans are supposed to feel, like love, hope, passion and you stop feeling what it's like to be bonded to anyone.

Do you want to feel love for your family again? For your parents? For your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend? Do you want to feel love for your kids again? Remember what it was like when you could feel the words "I love you" coming from them? When was the last time you "felt" those words reach your heart? When was the last time you felt anything other than anger?

The trauma of what you survived was out of your control. The rest of your life is within your control. God created a perfect chain of elements within all of us and it all comes from your soul. All you need to heal is within you but you need help finding out how it all works. Psychiatrists can help you fix the chemistry in your brain with medication and therapy. You can help your body work better when you eat better and exercise with calming activities. Yoga, meditation, martial arts and something as simple as taking a walk will get your body stronger and cleanse the negative energy from you. Just as important as taking care of your mind and body, is taking care of your spiritual life. Knowing God did not do this to you opens the door to asking Him to come back into your life.

There is an expression that infuriates. "God never gives us more than we can handle." This expression means that some people believe God is doing all of the bad stuff to them or causing it to happen. It is not that God is doing it to us, but that God is ready to give us what we need to get thru all of it. He can restore hope if you stop running from Him. He can restore all the faith you had before and even make it stronger if you allow Him. He can have you feeling all the good emotions you had before and make the sadness weaker.

You can heal but you can't heal if you keep trying to run away from it. You can't run from it because it will follow you no matter where you go. If you leave the people you love, what have you gained? You lost them and stand alone with no one by your side. You have also hurt people you once loved.

How do I know healing is possible? Because I have seen it in my own husband and many other veterans. There is no cure for PTSD yet and you cannot return to the way you were before. What can happen is that you come out of the darkness of PTSD better than you were before, more caring, more loving and yes, even happier. What you cannot heal, you can make weaker. You can come to a point where when nightmares come, they are not as powerful. When flashbacks come, they do not drain you as much or last as long. You can also come to a point where your family will react differently because they understand what is going on inside of you instead of blaming you for what comes out of you. The choice is your's to make but understand you did not end up with PTSD for any other reason than you survived traumatic events in combat so you can't really expect someone never exposed to any of it to automatically understand anything. Give then a chance to help you and give yourself a chance to feel love again for them.

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