PTSD Recovery Tip: Face Your Fear

Posted by Michele Rosenthal

Monday, March 19th, 2012 • PTSD Recovery Tips

Let’s be honest: one of the #1 symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder is that we like to avoid things! It’s just so hard to be brave enough all the time to feel and hear and listen and see what’s really at the root of what’s bothering you. Avoidance, actually, can be a really terrific survival skill — until it starts becoming the problem vs. helping you survive the problem.

PTSD recovery is all about demystifying, clarifying and analyzing what’s got a grip on you. Then, the task is figuring out how to shift all of that around. During the process of this chaotic deconstruction you learn things about yourself. In my own recovery, for example, (and, amazingly enough, I was really shocked to learn this) I discovered I was afraid. It sounds ridiculous, but I never actually noticed that I was fearful until a day that fear so overwhelmed me I couldn’t help but notice it!

This is how I describe it in my PTSD recovery memoir. For the longest time….

Fear had always felt so normal that I didn’t usually notice it. On this day, however, I could see how, for the nearly twenty-five years since my trauma, my life had revolved around fear: escaping it, accepting it, fighting it, reprimanding it, giving in to it, rebelling against it.

Does this sound familiar? It’s helpful to notice what you’re experiencing – and acknowledge it. Some tips about this:

  1. Recovery means being present enough to recognize what’s going on, why you do what you do, and what you need so that those old patterns can be broken.
  2. Develop this skill of recognition slowly.
  3. Start by facing small things, maybe things you already sort of know but haven’t really explored.
  4. Work yourself up to the bigger things that need to be acknowledged and then dealt with.

As in everything with how to heal posttraumatic stress syndrome, the crux of the process is going slowly, assessing how things feel and your reactions, putting in place support and committing to sticking out the process so that you move toward feeling better. Constantly check in with yourself!

PTSD Memoir News:

PTSD Memoir Jacket ImageExciting news: my PTSD recovery memoir will be released on April 4th! I can’t believe it’s so close.

I began writing while I was still deep in the PTSD dark – and didn’t stop writing until I came out into the light. 

You can read a part of how I healed posttraumatic stress disorder today by downloading a part of the book here.

Sometimes, it just feels better to see your own experience lived by someone else. You get a little distance, pick up some fresh ideas, imagine new things you can do to move forward. Also, you know you are not alone and that it is possible to overcome this tricky diagnosis that – let’s be real – steals your life from you.

We’re in the process of designing a bunch of goodies just for you when you book is launched. More details to come…

This Week On YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA:

Listen live to Your Life After TraumaJoin me on Thursday night 7:05-8pm EST

All through the month of March we’re discussing hope for post-trauma recovery. Click here to see my upcoming guests on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA.

This week we have a terrific line up: Robin Karr-Morse will discuss how childhood trauma impacts and causes adult disease – and what you can do about this staggering occurrence. Plus, survivor and author, Terry Smith, will share his story of surviving trauma and living a happy and fulfilling life with traumatic brain injury..

For more info and to listen live, click here.

Want ideas about how to deal with depression, change, and healing? Want to know how to find treatments that work and proof that your past can be overcome?

Listen to past episodes of YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA here.

2 Responses to “PTSD Recovery Tip: Face Your Fear”

  1. Kylie says:

    My physician referred me to a psychiatrist to help treat my PTSD/complex PTSD. I had experienced 37 years of trauma, including amputation, severe child abuse from the age of two, thrown out by my parents forever when I was 14, multiple foster homes until I was 18 (some abusive), sexual assault as a teen. As an adult, escaped a long-term abusive marriage, had multiple relocations to get to safety, was threatened, stalked, harassed, fell into the path of a car and had a split second to get out of the way before I got hit.

    That was three years ago. In the last few years, I’ve been in multiple car collisions (none of them my fault), attacked by a random stranger in my back lane, violently date raped, abandoned by close friends who said they would be there right after the rape but checked out instead. In addition, my son disclosed that he was being physically and emotionally abused, he was hit by a car and ended up on the hood of it while cycling (texting driver), and he was shot at school on my birthday a few months back by a school bully who brought a BB gun to school. He developed trauma reactions that I helped him work through and am still helping him work through because the school refused to provide him with a psychologist. I became his therapist out of necessity.

    As far as my PTSD symptoms go, I’ve got insomnia, cognitive defects, flashbacks, disassociation, nightmares, panic attacks with triggers, focus and concentration issues with even the simplest tasks, can’t multitask, high startle reflex, hypervigilance, and the list goes on. 

    Despite this, people who know me consistently say that I am one of the strongest, most determined and positive people they know. It’s the only way I’ve been able to survive everything.

    I want to kick this PTSD so bad,  I hate it. Hate that I can’t work and hate that I struggle so much with even the most basic day to day stuff.  If I could have one wish, it would be that I could get my life back and have things be normal again. It’s like I went from an IQ of 135 to stupid. I hate it.

    So, I saw the psychiatrist for my intake appointment last week. She was cold and clinical. After 30 minutes, and describing my PTSD symptoms to her, she told me that I just needed to stop seeing myself as a victim, and told me that was why I had PTSD. I wanted to punch her lights out and beat her face to a bloody pulp. Instead, I fired her.

    I’m currently doing everything I can to find some kind of low fee professional who can help me walk through this so I can kick it. I’ve tried to do it on my own by journaling, to help me delete the memory files that are causing the PTSD symptoms so that the hard drive in my mind will finally start working better, but the intensity of facing the trauma by myself without some kind of professional support is so high that it sends me into a tailspin. 

    I never allowed myself to stop and feel…I just kept pushing through and forging ahead. I had to. It was either push through and survive, or curl up and die. I was strong. I had already been to hell and back. What was a little more hell? I could handle it on my own. At least, that’s what I told myself. To fall apart would have been a sign of weakness, not the trademark strength that I was known for and felt I had to live up to.

    I’m willing and determined to do the hard work, I just need to find a professional with a modicum of compassion.

    It’s would be so much easier to just pull the trigger than deal with this PTSD. The problem is, if I did that, the PTSD would win. The PTSD would be the winner and I would be the loser. I would be defeated. I’m too dang competitive for that. There can only be one winner. It’s gotta be me. I’ve gotta go into battle and defeat this thing. I’ve gotta win. I’m gonna win…

  2. Ms. C.C. Alexander says:

    Suga, this is GGCC: (Great Grandma C.C.) I am 52 and crashed with a nervous breakdown from years of taking care of people and convincing loved ones that I loved them as well as letting myself go, go, go in every area: Mentally, Spiritually, Financially, Emotionally, Socially and more. I was living life instead of enjoying the life I live. I am weak sometimes, I am not super woman neither do I want to be. I feel, I hurt, I need love, support and friends too. I deserve to be happy and have support. U DO TO!!! My question to you is DO YOU BELIEVE IT? your response determines your present and your future. Peace

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