January is Mental Health Awareness month. I'm sharing my experience in the hopes of educating the public about mental health, and to help dispel some of the stigma associated with mental illness; but more so, to empower anyone who is affected by PTSD who feels trapped or lost in their own life.
Memories are a continuous thread of trillions of moments experienced throughout ones life, all stored in the subconscious part of the brain for future retrieval. The ability to access this database proficiently is what society would call smart, or intelligent.
I have a very bad memory, but it isn’t because I’m unintelligent. It’s because I have a Selective Memory, and it’s a symptom of my PTSD. Selective Memory was a shield for me, and it didn’t matter if 23.5 hrs of a day was good and only 30 minutes was rotten, everything in that day had to go.
I did this a lot, and I did it well. I don’t recall much of my life now; my defense mechanism had taken over decades ago and buried most of the memories- good & bad, deep in the back of my mind.
It wasn’t that I was manic depressive, or that I had a horrible life either. I had a good life, was well raised and cared for by my parents, and a naturally optimistic and outgoing person. But PTSD only needs one single traumatic event to be triggered, even in the best of lives.
And, for me, the inability to recall what I’ve experienced is because of the negative attachments associated with my memories. Who wants to remember the bad stuff anyways? But recovery isn’t about forgetting, because we never do; it’s about putting the experiences into proper perspective so that it won’t become debilitating and consume our lives.
If we lose ourselves to PTSD, every moment thereafter can become a physical, emotional, and psychological continuation of the initial traumatic event; a reference point, of sorts, from which all future experiences are built upon, measured by, and/or equated to.
If left undiagnosed and untreated, in time, you can accumulate a ‘history of failures’ which friends, foes, and especially family will keep reminding you of- directly, and indirectly. This spawns the ‘Self-fulfilling Prophecy’ syndrome that eventually takes control over your life choices.
But, here’s the good part; the brain is an incredibly adaptive organ. It can be tweaked, conditioned, and controlled by internal and external stimuli. And, just as society can fill your mind with garbage, you can dispose of it too.
I found my respite by living off-grid for a few years in my RV and shutting out the ‘static interference’ of society so that I could focus on my own well being. It was one of the best things I ever did for the sake of my own self.
My RVing days are over for now. It served its purpose, and I proved my point. And though I’m not completely healed, nor will I ever be ‘fixed’, my emotional health is considerably better now than it was a few years ago. Ultimately, I achieved a state of enlightenment that has provided clarity of my past, and certainty in my future.
For anyone else that is affected by PTSD, there is no shame in seeking professional help. Life can get heavy on us all at times, and if it gets too much to handle, having proper help to take some of the weight off of your shoulders can help alleviate the stress in those troubling times.
Although I had socially isolated myself over those three years, I did have a trusted Personal Support Worker from the David Busby Centre that I could drop in to see whenever I needed or wanted to. Through our meetings we could ensure that I was making healthy progress in my self-treatment, and the non-judgmental ear allowed me to ‘hear myself think’, which helped in my self-analysis and continued progress.
PTSD is more common than most people may realize, and there are so many healthy and productive alternatives available to us other than suffering in silence, drinking or drugging the pain away, or missing moments in your life.
January is Mental Health Awareness month. I’m sharing my experience in the hopes of educating the public about mental health, and to help dispel some of the stigma associated with mental illness; but more so, to empower anyone who is affected by PTSD and feels trapped or lost in their own life.
You’re not alone. If you’ve had enough and want help; take a break, take a breath, and let’s talk!