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Cure #21: When the Past is Present Every Moment:
        Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… A time to love, a time to hate; a time of war, a time of peace."
   - Bible: Ecclesiastes (3:1-15)

Full Karmic Catastrophe Living

The Earth is a giant one room schoolhouse teaching us all about life in the worlds of reincarnation and karma. In modern times, our seemingly well ordered lives have tended to make us forget this truth of our reality.

Inevitably, life will remind us of this truth by presenting us with catastrophic events that disrupts our illusion of order. Catastrophic events include physical injury, car accident, sexual assault, criminal violence, natural disaster (fire, flood, earthquake), terrorism, or death of loved ones suffered by yourself or others.

How Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Happens

If your cumulative experience of life has left you without the means to cope with such catastrophies, they will remain in your awareness until you find ways of integrating the experience into your being. When the past continues to be very present for you, disrupting your ability to live fully now, it is demanding to be healed. When this demand manifests as unending assaults to your physical well being, your emotional stability, and your mental health that will not stop, it is time for you to question if you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

When you feel so threatened by a past event that you become stuck there, unable to move forward, unable to let the past trauma go, you have a "disrupted state of being" known as "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" (PTSD). This is not new: in the past, it was variously referred to as "shell shock" or "battle fatigue" in the military, as "melancholia" by the laity, and as "extreme lamentation" in religious orders.

In our electronic age, it is not necessary for you to have suffered or to personally know others who have suffered. All it takes for you to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is that you "feel the pain" of others who are experiencing trauma. This can happen even if the only way that you were personally effected by the trauma was by seeing it televised (as in the World Trade Center Disaster).

Who is "At Risk" for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD effects most people at some time in their life. It is frequently not recognized by others, including health care professionals. They will say "you are not yourself" and to "snap out of it" as if PTSD was as easy to shake off as a daydream. Those suffering from PTSD know it is not that easy to do - and no one wants to "get rid of it" more than they do because of how it much diminishes their quality of life.

Those most at risk of contracting PTSD are those afflicted with depression, anxiety, or other diagnosed psychiatric conditions. The younger you are in your present life when a traumatic event occurs, the more at risk you are. The less you have been "tested by life", the more at risk you are (as "women" more than men).

From a past life standpoint, the more you have carried over issues of mistrust and survivalism from past lives into your present body and family situation, the more at risk you are. Also, the less advanced you are as Soul, the less inner resources you will have developed, and so the more at risk you are.

Ironically, it is science that bears out this fact. Studies on PTSD have shown the impact of the trauma was not necessarily related to how bad the trauma was. This is because what determines a person's response to an event is how "advanced" they are as Soul in terms of life experience not how "severe" the trauma is.

How Do I Know if I Have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

When we are living through the stressful situation, at first, we do not have the time to acknowledge our stress, let alone deal with it. When the stressful event is over or things have returned to "normal", we may still be in so much shock that we will not notice the stress related problems.

For awhile, others will expect us to be depressed or anxious, to have illness and nightmares, and to be unsettled and restless, etc, which are the normal reactions to stress. Yet, if healing is proceeding normally, these symptoms will decrease over the following weeks and months. However, if these symptoms remain unchanged or even increase with the passage of time, then PTSD has set in.

What are the Signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Below are the signs commonly associated with PTSD in order from the most to least indicative of the disorder. If you are experiencing most of these symptoms at the same time, seek professional help immediately.

1> Involuntary Flashbacks: By day, involuntary flashbacks take the form of "lost time" where the person disconnects from the "here and now" of present day life and "goes back in time" and "relives" the past traumatic event over again. By night, involuntary flashbacks take the form of "recurring nightmares" where the past event is again reexperienced as if it was happening for the first time.

Involuntary Triggers: When the memory of the traumatic event gets brought full force into present conscious awareness by being involuntarily triggered by a sight, sound, smell, taste, or touch ("sense memory") similar (but not necessarily identical) to the sense memory created at the time of a past traumatic event, it is PTSD. The trauma may be remembered for a short period or it may be fully relived as if it was just happening for the first time. Either way the trigger ensures that the past memory will recur and intrude into present day life.

Uncharacteristic Substance Abuse: If you never were a substance abuser (being addicted to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, food, etc) before the traumatic event but become addicted to substances after the trauma, it is likely PTSD is causing the uncharacteristic behavior... and it will not end until the trauma is healed.

Chronic State of Alert: If you were able to relax before the traumatic event but cannot do so afterwards, feeling that you must always be "on guard" against the next trauma, then it is likely that PTSD is the cause. Signs of an abnornally heightened state of alert include being startled too easily, always being on edge, having frequent panic or anxiety attacks, always having a racing heart, easily prone to hyperventilation, and chronic digestive problems.

Chronic State of Withdrawal: If you become drastically withdrawn after the event compared to how you were before, then it is likely that PTSD is the cause. Signs of withdrawal include constant avoidance (staying away from people, places, and things reminding you of the trauma), becoming numb (unable to feel any emotion or being acutely depressed), retreating into silence (stopping all your speaking, thinking, and remembering of the trauma). The problem with avoidance is that it stops your body and mind from healing the trauma, worsening your response into a full scale withdrawal from life manifesting as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, agoraphobia, or suicide.

Chronic Brain Fogginess: If you were not diagnosed with a problem causing poor concentration, blocked thought, and impaired mental processes before the traumatic event but cannot think properly or concentrate or are constantly feeling mentally foggy after the event, it is likely that PTSD is causing this behavior. You should also consult a physician to make sure there are no physical causes.

Chronic Sleep Disturbance: If your sleep patterns are different after the trauma compared to before, it is likely that it is PTSD related. PTSD is most likely the cause if you are sleeping all the time or if you cannot sleep for more than a few hours at a time (even after taking sleep aids) for weeks and months after the traumatic event. Consult the "Rules of Sleeping" for more on sleep problems.

What is the Best Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

The best thing you can do is to - as soon as possible - help your body and mind "process" your traumatic experience in a safe environment so that you can heal it and move on. Processing includes these steps:

1> Talk About It: Just talking about your feelings with someone else or even aloud to an empty room or a recorder, immediately relieves the internal pressure. The sooner you can talk about it, the easier it will be to heal the past and move forward into the present. While you are talking about it, release the expectation that the trauma can be cured by the person listening. What you are looking for by talking is the release of emotions, not the solution to problems.
Helpful Tip: The safer you feel with the person(s) you are speaking with, the better you will feel. Trauma disconnects you from your own internal sense of security, the sooner you can get it back, the better you will feel. There are plenty of support groups, healers, ministers, and others who are ready to help you if only you will reach out and take their outstretched hand.
2> Express It: For those who uncomfortable with talking or for whom words are not enough, other means of "getting it out of your system" are available... and are often more powerful than just talking.
Helpful Tip: You can write down all your feelings about it. Or you can draw pictures of how you feel if words cannot express your feelings. Or compose music. Or pound a punching bag. Or run just as long as you are not running from those who care for you. Get it out of your system so you can get on with your life.
3> Revisit It: This can best be summed up by the old adage: "When you are thrown from the horse, the best thing you can do is to get back on as soon as possible". If you can return to the "scene of crime", do so. That will automatically lessen it's hold over you.
Helpful Tip: If you cannot return to the actual place, go to a place where the healing can occur (for example, Vietnam veterans who cannot return there, find comfort in visiting the Wall in Washington, DC). Hiding from the past only increases it's power over you. Confronting the past trauma is the first step toward healing it and putting it behind you for good.
Nurture Yourself: Especially if the traumatic event has left you struggling to meet your basic needs for survival (food, clothes, shelter, etc), you must find and take the time to nurture yourself. When they are threatened, your body and mind are programmed to focus on survival with total tunnel vision. Yet if this "state of alert" continues for too long, it will wear you down, depriving you of the stamina needed for the longer task of rebuilding your life. Nurturing yourself will help you to better pace yourself and to regain a sense of normalcy that is vital to your well being. Best of all, it is free and you start right away:
General self nurturing means doing such things as: deep breathing, getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of filtered water, eating healthy food, doing light exercise to stay fit, avoiding mood altering "substances", and using "tried and true" stress relieving techniques.

Emotional self nurturing is especially important in times of trouble and it means: giving yourself permission to feel bad about your situation, to mourn it by crying or venting anger, and to allow your feelings to flow without judging them. When the time is right, it also means giving yourself permission to do those things that will make your smile, laugh, and be happy. Be sure to hug and kiss your loved ones and help others when you can… in doing this, you are really helping yourself!
Remember that in a universe where all happens by agreement that there is no need for "survivor guilt": all is unfolding as it should. So start as soon as you can to "take back your life" by making decisions, even small ones, to manifest the life that you desire… which has been only temporarily disrupted by the traumatic event.

The worst thing you can do is to "just forget about it" or to "medicate it away" by drugs, alcohol, or anti-depressant medication. There are natural remedies (
essential oils, flower essences, and herbals) which can help to calm your mind without poisoning your body. Yet they are not substitutes for taking the steps above. If you do not allow the trauma to make you stronger, it will kill you. The choice is yours.

Before using any of these techniques, click here for a "Word of Caution."

Credits: adapted from "PTSD: When the Terror Won't Stop" by Mary Jane Horton and in memory of the heroes of September 11, 2001



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