As you may be well aware, PTSD doesn’t run in a straight line. What helps others improve their lifestyles may not work so well for you, and what is working for you may not do so consistently. The main thing you should know about recovery is that you don’t have to go straight towards all the time. You really want to work towards making solid progress with an intention in mind and do this over time.
This works better because:
- The brain needs time to consolidate and comprehend changes: Your brain learns and then needs to uptake, integrate, organise and implement the changes you want to occur. If you go full speed ahead without giving your brain the time to consolidate the changes, you can be at risk of overloading your mental capacity. Your brain experiences a series of growth spurts which are followed by periods where you feel you are not making as much progress. This may mean your brain is just working quietly, and you shouldn’t be discouraged by this.
- Emotions require time to regulate: Your emotions will fluctuate due to external and internal stimuli. You may be thinking more positively in forward motion times, which gives the brain emotional regulation and enhances its balance. However, you can slow down or even overload your emotional state when your perspective becomes more negative. You will have ups and downs, and this fluctuation actually helps the brain to understand the changes you are going through.
If your recovery slows down or you feel you have hit a wall, that’s okay, as truth be told you are much further along you were than day one. You have a greater understanding of your emotions than you did yesterday and this alone takes you further away from this early stages.
There is, of course, a difference between ‘feeling’ and ‘being’. Some people feel as if they’re back to the start because of the complex range of emotions attributed to suffering with PTSD. Sometimes these emotions will remind you of how they were at square one and make you think you are back at that point. This is, of course, completely normal. It doesn’t mean you are back there – you are just experiencing a similar emotion to when you were back then; you may simply be remembering the feeling you felt then which can, in turn, bring those feelings back.
There is only ‘being’ now. And, guess what? Today is much further than square one. If you ever feel like you are back again having those feelings you might want to try this:
- Think of what is making you feel this backwards stepping? These may be negative actions, emotions or thoughts that are similar to an earlier time.
- What can help you replace these negative actions, emotions or thoughts?
- Choose a method of action and implement it.
You can regulate the brain and bring yourself back into a calm, present moment – one that is not determined by those negative emotions of the past.