Friday, September 30, 2022

High-Functioning People with PTSD

Unfortunately, there are many rumors about PTSD that are NOT true, and here is one we hear often: "People who have a history of trauma cannot be high-functioning members of society." Let's talk about why this is a load of bull:

When we define trauma and what someone with a trauma history looks like, we often miss out on seeing the truth of their personal history. We expect to see someone showing some form of self-destructive behavior in an attempt to self-sooth. But that is not always the case. 

Trauma is often thought of as an isolated event: a car crash, sexual assault, or maybe something happening during military service. While singular events can be traumatic, we’re ignoring a whole host of ongoing situations and relational traumas a person can experience. Many of which are outlined in Acknowledge and Heal: A Women-Focused Guide To Understanding PTSD 

When a person is exposed to ongoing trauma, their mind tries to adapt. It’s the brain’s job to keep us alive, so in situations where we cannot escape our trauma, the brain switches from fight or flight, or to a more adaptive "tend and befriend" mode, allowing us to remain as safe as possible in the ongoing traumatic situation. 

In short, we develop coping mechanisms to keep everything peaceful. And, as long as things are relatively calm in our lives, we appear “normal.” 

In some cases, our focus is shifted outward, toward the things we can control: grades, promotions, seeking independence, and financial security. Many trauma survivors become fiercely independent because of the betrayal of the trauma they experienced left them knowing the only person they could rely on was themselves (e.g. a former child of abusive or neglectful parents). To a spectator, these individuals seem like they have it all together. They couldn’t possibly be struggling with PTSD, right? 

Wrong. 

If they have had to lean on self-sufficiency for survival, it is likely that by the time they desperately need help, they have perfected their mask of indifference and fortified their emotional barriers to the point that they have become reflexes. No longer aware of the walls they throw up, these people can be very difficult to diagnose. 

Either way the pendulum swings, self-destructive or super high-functioning, the person who has experienced trauma (singular or ongoing) is attempting to compensate for it. And that may work for them for many years, until it doesn’t. 

The bottom line is that being outwardly high-functioning and needing trauma recovery work are not mutually exclusive. Just because someone appears to be high functioning, it doesn’t mean they don’t suffer.

What is your experience with high-functioning PTSD? We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Friday, September 23, 2022

Rumors that are NOT True: People with PTSD are “damaged goods”


Rumors that are NOT True:

People who develop PTSD are “not resilient”/are “damaged goods”

There are a lot of rumors that come with PTSD, unfortunately, and this is one of them. This is the idea that someone “gets” PTSD because they are not resilient enough, or because they already experienced trauma, addiction, etc. and are “damaged goods.” This rumor equates PTSD to the flu and opines that PTSD attacks those with compromised mental immune systems.   

It is fantasy to believe that a happy childhood will inoculate us from future trauma. It won’t! Trauma is an individual experience. What makes something traumatic for one person may not be traumatic for another, depending on their relative ability to deal with it. 

There is no quick “bounce back” for rape, war, or a serious accident, and we would appreciate it if people would stop pretending there was. Moreover, this rumor can have unintended consequences: 

If people in need of help feel they will be labeled as “weak” or “damaged,” then they will be less likely to seek the help they need.   

Not seeking help can have disastrous effects. These statistics and these statistics also are based on the U.S. population:

·         About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the population) will develop PTSD at some point during their life

·         About 8 of every 100 women (or 8%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%)

·         Among people who have had a diagnosis of PTSD in their lifetime, approximately 27% have also attempted suicide

·         Women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are nearly seven times more likely than other women to die by suicide

·         The average time between PTSD diagnosis and suicide was less than two and a half years 

The bottom line is that PTSD symptoms are hard enough without blaming a survivor; this is cruel and unnecessary.

What rumors about PTSD have affected you? How did you overcome them? We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

Friday, September 16, 2022

Compassion Fatigue


Compassion Fatigue
was coined by Charles Figley in the 1980s and refers to a set of negative psychological symptoms that caregivers experience in the course of their work while being exposed to direct traumatic events or through secondary trauma. 

Compassion fatigue is an erosive process, not attributed to a single exposure to trauma. It is the result of ongoing, repeated exposure to traumatic situations, whether direct or indirect. Over time, the act of providing care in the context of human suffering and trauma wears down the individual's psychological resilience, leaving the care worker in a combined state of burnout that leads to more serious mental health conditions such PTSD, anxiety or depression. 

Essentially, the continuous exposure to the trauma of others may lead care work professionals to manifest the same or similar symptoms as the trauma survivors they have helped. 

This places many occupations such as law enforcement, first responders, healthcare professionals, teachers, and community service workers right in the crosshairs if they have the risk factors to be affected by it. Between 40% and 85% of helping professionals develop vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and/or high rates of traumatic symptoms, according to compassion fatigue expert Francoise Mathieu. 

During a TED Talk in 2017, Patricia Smith, the founder of the Compassion Fatigue Awareness project, had this to say,

“Caregivers are not good at asking for help. Asking for help is hard, no matter who you are. For nurses, doctors, teachers and more, the idea of leaving work can seem like an impossibility. You may feel guilty or that you are abandoning your patients or students. But if you are struggling with drug or alcohol use, you need help too. Your clients, patients and students will be happy for you.” 

With that in mind, try to be aware of signs of compassion fatigue and seek help. 

How do you handle compassion fatigue? We value your feedback and ideas! Reach out on our Community Facebook Page!

*****

If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD