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My Blog

To Believe or Not Believe?

Let's consider this discussion from this perspective. If someone has a flashback of trauma while sitting in an ice cream parlor, is the brain telling the truth?  Is that person in mortal danger at that exact moment? Depending on what else is going on, that's hard to determine, but for argument's sake, let's say no.  They are not in mortal danger at that exact moment, but the brain is convinced they are because a sound or some other trigger activated that experience in the brain.  The brain truly believes it's real, so again I ask should we believe everything our brain is telling us after we've been through a traumatic experience?  I'm not so sure we should because it seems as if it leads us down a path that no longer exists.  The harsh reality is that the past doesn't exist, but either does the future.  The only moment that exists is right now.  That's a bit difficult to wrap one's mind around when you've been through trauma because many times we are haunted by the past as if it happened yesterday, but again the brain perceives it as yesterday, but it wasn't yesterday.  It could have been one year, two years, ten years, or twenty years ago.  How can we reasonably be in that same level of danger?  I think in a nutshell we can agree that we really aren't in that danger in this exact moment.  

Now, there are jobs and situations that certainly enhance the prolonging of trauma, as well as, the prolonged or repeated exposure to trauma.  I've mentioned service members, police officers, firefighters, and EMT's as examples a number of times in my writing, although I believe there are other professions that have exposure to traumatic experiences too. These types of jobs are certainly exposing people to a number of intense triggers and many situations where they may be repeatedly experiencing trauma.  This is why we are equipped with instincts.  These jobs rely on those instincts and they rely on our brain to alert us to danger. But therein also lies the irony of the police officer who says he's fine for years, but as soon as he retires and tries to enjoy his life, all this stuff comes up and starts to haunt him.  What do you do then?  You probably think you are going crazy.  The long line of contradictions then follows.  You did your job for 20+ years and were good at it, so why now are you developing issues?  You handled the streets, right?  Now you're having trouble handling a few hours at home.  It's confusing, but it's the brain going through processing of what you've experienced.  Imagine how many situations you faced that you had to rely on those instincts to do the right thing.  

When the limbic system was in high alert, it meant that the calm, safe zone in your brain wasn't activated, so now you are dealing with re-occuring instances where your brain thinks those things are happening again right in your living room.   I bring back the question...........Should we believe what the brain is telling us in those precise moments?  I'm not so sure we should.................but then that brings a deeper thought to the surface.....If we choose not to believe the thoughts that come up, then what do we do with them, because they seem to come up frequently?  

So again, I like to throw these things out to you to make you think.  Each person's situation is different, but I've lived PTSD through myself and through my own soldier and police officer  It's not easy from either side.  Being the person with it, it is hard to understand and being the person to support someone else going through it is just as challenging.  So I give you perspective from all angles and I want for you to draw your own conclusions.  I had to find my way through the dark and I did it by doing some homework on why these things were occurring, so I think it's important that I can share them with others who may be experiencing the same kinds of things I did.  

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