Episode 004: At the moment of a trauma, the victim’s voice is squashed. Their will and choice is taken. Recovery involves finding your voice, but PTSD likes to keep people living in fear and suffering from their secrets. My challenge here in Episode 004 is to demonstrate a degree of my own authenticity so as to increase your appreciation for the power that secrets can hold over us. This means that I’ll be telling you about myself. (oh boy)
I have to tell the truth. Writing about the broad topic of PTSD-related secrets for a global audience is by far the closest I’ve come to having writer’s block. It was tough. I’ve written PTSD and substance abuse workbooks for patients and counselors that were mentally easier than coming up with an adequate way to describe the God-like feeling of discussing the world’s secrets. This must be why the academics don’t have the energy to teach the public too much by the way of personal instruction. This is my feeble attempt to explain my rationale for a new approach.
As I have said before, and will say again, the problem with PTSD therapy in the world isn’t that the treatments don’t work – the problem is that we’re terrible at matching up the right treatment for the right problem at the right time. It’s that simple. The majority of mental health problems tend to snowball, whereby the sufferer collects more and more terrible symptoms. My bottom line is this: I didn’t know this stuff from my main-stream training. I’ve been adding better-informed counsel to my patients about an ever-increasing number of holistic approaches that are shown to support health in a variety of different situations.
Strategy vs. Tactics
Strategy is overarching plan for your campaign with its intended goals. Tactics spell out exactly how you are going to carry it out. No let’s bring this simple understanding into the difficult world of PTSD and secrets. Very few want to talk about the worst day of life, much less in public. The traumatized go into practically instant hiding the day a serious tragedy strikes a family. Few know what it’s like to survive that, much less thrive. After all, we tend to hear only the negative in the news, right? Some are tempted to give up hope that anyone is experiencing relief from PTSD anywhere. Don’t let secrets and trying to avoid/stuff your feelings keep you in a pit. Life is too short to waste your days afraid to cry or admit that you’re wounded and scared. Join the human race today and get honest with yourself first, last, and always.
Jenifer Lewis, an American actress, is quoted as saying “We are as sick as our secrets, so I tell everything.” Every self-help program, 12 Step program or holistic approach to mental health care must at some level address either guilt, self-worth, forgiveness, meaningful and authentic relationships, or confession of some sort of another. The simplest example I can think of is parent guilt, which could not be ignored if one were to dream up a holistic PTSD therapy program or educational materials, right?
I was shocked to learn that a terrorist wins when people begin to live their lives out of any overabundance of fear. The problem I had when I heard this was that I first began to get a sense of the magnitude of the problem that is posttraumatic stress. I could do the math myself. This meant that billions are affected by traumatic stress, even if only seeming under the surface. It is a major influencer of world history.
The importance of sharing everything safely, strategically, and in manageable doses
By definition, a traumatic event is unwanted and harmful on many levels. One thing that is universal is the fact that 100% of the time the trauma victim’s desires were trampled on. Their voice was silenced. After the trauma is long over, some people still refuse to process it and try to go on with their lives as if nothing had ever happened. I know, because that’s what I did.
Well, what do you think happens when you never start using your voice again? That’s right, you lose practice with it. After a while, many people start to internalize their struggle and isolate themselves and all kinds of distorted versions of reality are told. Cognitive distortions grow like crystals in an environment like that.
The story we tell ourselves determines the quality of our life in many ways. Suffering comes when we tell ourselves a negative story about the future. Pain is always, and only, in the moment. Sometimes you can’t make the pain any better, but you can always make it worse.
Essentially, a person has to feel safe on a gut level to discuss their wounds. In the same way, the psyche further keeps past wounds suppressed until it is safe to do so in one’s life. If that never becomes the case, a nervous breakdown is practically unavoidable if the wounds are great enough. If you don’t remember anything else, denial is not a river in Egypt!
Brene Brown is my favorite person for teaching folks to discover or re-discover their authentic voice. And let’s face it – the world needs more podcasters.
Experience with the 9-Line Trauma Grid quickly revealed insight into the way the rows and columns of the nine Neotypes interact with each other in the process of recovery. In a nutshell, it works like this: Early life opportunities set up expectations (beliefs) we place on ourselves, others and the world.
These beliefs form our motivations that affect our intimacy skills:
- seeking care
- giving care
- feeling comfortable with the autonomous self
- the ability to negotiate one’s own needs.
These four tasks of intimacy form what we call our organizing culture in the PTSD Academy. We discuss them often and praise each other as we build on these important skills in public, as so often trauma steals the ability to do any of them authentically.