Television, newspapers, magazines, and the internet hold a myriad of potential triggers for people with PTSD. It's an all encompassing network that does not discriminate between injuries or experiences. You will find daily news on natural disasters, war, car accidents, abuse, addiction, sexual assault, etc. etc. etc. etc. The list goes on and on. So the question is when you know you have a sensitivity to this kind of trigger, how do you handle it?
Living in NJ with the presence of the NJ Turnpike, there is an accident in the news everyday, if not more than that. Our troopers are constantly rushing to the scene of these crashes. The media is always there to report on them and I, for a long time, was glued to the television. Why? If it wasn't benefiting my highest good and promoting my own healing, then why was I subjecting myself to it? I can't say I have an answer for that other than my brain's insatiable need to keep reliving what happened to me. If I wasn't going to relive it in that moment through a flashback, my brain began seeking out other avenues.
I am interested in the art of healing, so I care not to address controversy here, but consider the news lately with regard to our troops. There is a lot going on there. If you know someone who has served, I'm sure they are not short on opinions and feelings as to what's happening in the world and our country currently. If they are active duty, they will keep their opinions likely to themselves for obvious reasons, but if they are a seasoned veteran who is discharged you will get a myriad of thoughts and intense opinions out of them. They feel every ounce of what is going on in the world. It is still very real, very alive, and very present inside of them. For those with PTSD, it can be disheartening at best and be downright rage at worst.
The world is a complex place and we have very complex minds, so what exactly are we to do when we start developing long-lasting physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that are being triggered by what we are reading and watching on television? How do you handle it?
At some point, your own healing has to become paramount. It's about making that conscious decision. When you recognize that reading the news and listening to the stories becomes detrimental to your own health and becomes something that invades your cells causing ill feelings, it's important that you take heed and recognize this as a major trigger. It took me a long time to recognize the news as a trigger. I didn't associate it with what was going on in the brain, but what I learned is that it is all profoundly connected.
Stepping away from these kinds of triggers can be challenging, especially for veterans who care very much about the issues at stake, but again there has to be balance. If you can read an article, formulate an opinion, feel the feelings that go with it, and then balance yourself and still live with a healthy mindset.....great, that's how it should be. I suspect that is not what's happening here though. I know far too many veterans who become outraged and physically angry to the point of pain, tension headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia over what they are seeing and reading. If this is happening to you, recognize the trigger and know that it's not a healthy use of your energy at this point in time. Stepping back from it all does not mean you stop caring about the issues. It doesn't mean you stop having an opinion. It doesn't mean you are being indifferent. It means that your healing has to be the most important thing. If we are to truly heal our population of warriors, then it must happen for each of you, one at a time. We can't heal the masses all at once. It has to start with those of you who recognize, learn, apply, and believe that you can heal. If we breed anger and resentment, more will come. You served us proudly, now it is time for you to care for you and your highest order priority at this time must be to do what is for your highest good and healing. If the articles and news are major triggers, then place them to the side until you can read them without the long lasting symptoms of distress. No one ever tells you it's okay to do that because it might imply that you suddenly stop caring and a veteran never stops caring.....even those who fall to the point of wanting to take their own life. What I see in a situation like that, is not someone who ever stopped caring, I see someone who cares so much and feels helpless to do anything about how much they care.
So I encourage you to pay attention next time you are compelled to read an article or watch a television program that is addressing some of the world and national issues. Pay attention to how you feel while you are engaged in it. Pay attention to how you feel afterwards. Pay attention to how you feel going to bed that night. You will likely be astounded at how it attached itself to your experiences and kicked up some unpleasant feelings and symptoms. It can operate a bit like glue, attracting the very thing your brain is often re-experiencing.
Again, as I have stated a number of times prior, I write this blog to help each of you develop awareness and consider some different avenues of thought. I am not a doctor, a counselor, or a professional researcher. I had to learn what I know the hard way to address many of these issues and I am grateful to be able to now be sharing them from a place of balance, experience, and healing.
I am always open to questions, so should something come up. You are welcome to e-mail me.
*Image: Google Images