I realized I have three responses to my diagnoses:
1.) I don’t have PTSD
2.) I am weak for having PTSD
3.) I have PTSD because what I experienced affects me; since it’s not in my nature to externalize and abuse others, I turned my traumas inward.
I have felt all three of these in the last week. Since my back-up therapist suggested I observe when I feel different moods or emotional parts, I began to examine what triggers each response. Here’s what I learned:
I’ll slip into thinking I don’t have PTSD when I have a semblance of normalcy. The stabilization work I’ve been doing in therapy and being able to focus at work can cause this, but I think it happens when underneath I feel depressed. At least last Monday that was the case. I suppose I need to go deeper into understanding the depression. For now though I realized that if I think I don’t have PTSD I am to blame for my problems.
I’ll slip into thinking I’m weak for having PTSD when I’m lonely. I find myself thinking that I haven’t experienced significant trauma, and must somehow be flawed for having developed PTSD from what I experienced. This judges my emotional self and is invalidating. In part I have this response because my dad castigated emotions as weak and I was not allowed to have them. This response might also come from wanting a sense of control, because I put the cause of my PTSD solely on myself rather than my parents. Like my first response I say that I am to blame, which comes from self-hate and feeling unworthy. I think this response to my diagnoses connects to loneliness because when I feel lonely I often think I’m invisible and unworthy of others’ time or attention.
When I feel the support that I have I’m able to accept that I have PTSD because I have experienced trauma that I turned inward. This is the only response that accepts what happened and is non-judgmental. Of course what happened to me would create PTSD because it was not right and was harmful. When I relate to my diagnoses this way, I see that PTSD is a healthy response to what I experienced.
I will have to continue observing myself to learn more about what triggers my feelings of unworthiness or support. The two seem opposed in that my feelings of unworthiness make it hard for me to ask for support and encourage me to isolate. If I can figure this out before getting to the stage of treatment where I talk about my trauma experiences I’ll be in good shape. I know I’ll have to develop an emotional support system plan for the lowest lows that may come, but right now I don’t know how to do that.