For as prevalent as PTSD has been for many of us, there are still people who do not understand what it is. It's not something that is ever easy to explain and it is hard to convince someone that you can't "turn it off", simply because you decide that you want to. For as optimistic as I can be about the process of recovery, there is a long road of twists, turns, and many questions that have to be addressed along the way.
Questions are easier asked of ourselves than asked from others. Pay attention to how you respond when someone attempts the feat of asking you a question about PTSD......the instinctual fight, flight, or freeze usually shows up!
Is it the question that someone asks that bothers you? Or is it the not knowing the answer? Or is it that the answer is too raw to say out loud? Does it instill fear or lack of control in you? It's okay to not know the answer to any of those questions, but admitting that you aren't sure why you responded the way you did is equally as useful as actually identifying the answer. This becomes a bit of a game that is played from the inside out and I can tell you I never liked being the sore loser in this.
How is that useful? Well, admitting that you had a quick reaction that maybe wasn't so pleasant with someone or maybe it was emotionally charged let's you know what part of the nervous system your brain is operating in. Is it feeling a sense of danger? Well, if flight, flight, or freeze showed up instead of rational thinking, you can thank your limbic system. If you pause and rationally attempt to find a response that is respectful, but controlled, you are using your prefrontal cortex that let's you know that you aren't in danger and can formulate a reasonable response.
If you aren't developing the awareness of how you are responding, then it usually just keeps happening the same way over and over again. The pathway is paved good and steady until you do something to develop awareness of the behavior and train a new pathway. This is where the mindfulness practices and meditation can be a huge benefit. The simple awareness of something happening is useful because even if you can't formulate an answer.............you at the very least formulated a new question about why you are acting or feeling the way that you are. That's a much better place to be than unaware, unhappy, and unresponsive to the emotional needs of your own being. However, as many things are this is a double-edged sword. With awareness and knowledge must come the responsibility of making a decision to learn more or ignore what you now know.
This is where that "game" of tug of war comes into play. Do you pay attention to what you learned or do you ignore it because of the responsibility it now placed on you?
Well to be frank about it, sometimes you aren't in the frame of mind to deal with it, but the seeds of wisdom once planted will poke through now and then. So you can certainly make a decision to deal with something now, but it does take time to synthesize the information.
Layers upon layers are here for you to explore and the one thing I was never told was that there is no arrival gate. You won't ever "arrive" in the typical sense that we would use that word. However, the realizations, the awareness, the inspiration of evolution and change takes on momentum. At some point you stop worrying about where you are trying to "arrive" at and you enjoy the momentum gained by seeing results in the relationships you are forming with others and the feeling of being connected no matter where it is that you are or what it is that you are doing.