Finding the Positive Side of PTSD: Awareness, Love and Connection


I spent much of my healing aware of the havoc that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can wreak on a life. Insomniaanxiety, acting out and hurting myself were just a few of the things I worked so hard to heal from. At the other end of all the healing, I’ve found there are some blessings to be had as well. It took a long time to get here, but I’ve found I live with a greater degree of awareness about the world, a large capacity for love and a deeper connection to the spiritual side of life than I had before the trauma.

Awareness

When I was first traumatized, the world became very bright as if I’d been pierced by a thousand needles and had thumbtacks mixed in with the blood in my veins. All colors were technicolor. All noises were loud. I noticed more than I had before. Before the trauma, the world had existed in one bland, continuous season, amorphous and undefined. The pain of the trauma set my world alight.

It hurt, but at the other end of healing, it no longer hurts, and the world is still full of color, depth and nuance.

Though I now consider myself largely healed and functional, I still see all the intricacies of the world I was awakened to post-trauma. I notice more. I see more of the people around me, and I can see more of the world, glasses off, fully awake. Before, it was tinged with pain and loss. Now, from a healed and whole place, it is full of concern, love and awareness that things aren’t always as they seem.

Love

My trauma swung the pendulum so far into pain that healing has allowed it swing that much further into love. The space the pain carved out in me was so large that I am left with more space for love in its absence. A heart stretched so large into sadness can never become its original size again, but it can learn to find love in the places where pain formerly reigned. It takes time to let the light in — time and trust — but when it happens, there is so much room that needs so much light.

Connection

“When the physical world doesn’t take care of you, the spiritual world does,” the shaman told me during our first visit. I had initially made an appointment with him because I had begun seeing things: I saw a light that spoke to me, I started having premonitions in dreams, and I felt angelic guidance, to name just a few. In the world I had been raised in, all of these things were cause for concern. In the world that helped me heal, these were spiritual occurrences that I believe were entirely “normal,” helpful, and fine. 

I thought I was going “crazy,” but I believe I was just getting spiritual. The shaman, and other healers I worked with, helped me to see that sometimes, our spiritual abilities are enhanced when we live in a painful physical reality. In truth, I believe we all have these spiritual abilities, but they become dull from disuse. Trauma and healing from trauma had heightened my spiritual sense; I just needed to learn to access it in a healthy way, that benefited my life and the lives of those around me.

Healing took me on a journey beyond what I considered possible. The trauma and its aftermath were painful — enormously so. My whole world died, along with my heart. But with courage to heal, it was not all bad in the end. I get a bright world, a great capacity for love, and I believe I can see a typically unseen side of life. For these things I am grateful. I can’t say it made the pain worth it, per se, but it did make it meaningful.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via hobo_018


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

collage made by contributor

Speaking the Language of PTSD

June was National PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) Awareness Month. This encourages me to write of my own experiences and some lessons I’ve learned along the way. I was diagnosed about six and a half years ago, although it often seems like an entire lifetime. Everyone’s story is different. A variety of things led to my PTSD [...]
Fashion Watercolor

6 Ways My PTSD Is as Much a Physical Condition as It Is a Mental One

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is considered a mental illness. While I don’t disagree with this, a more complete description of my experience with PTSD is that it’s a mind and nervous system condition that affects me mentally, physically and spiritually. Some of the ways PTSD affects my body are: 1. Disrupted sleep. I have nightmares [...]
An illustration of a man with balloons

6 Misconceptions About Living With PTSD

This article was written by Christian Benedetto Jr. for the PTSD Journal. These are six misconceptions about living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): 1. All wounds are visible. It sounds so simple, we have all heard it over and over again, but people don’t seem to get it. Just because someone is not missing a [...]
Man holding sparklers in his hands celebrating new years eve

What People With PTSD Need From You This Fourth of July

While not everyone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has the same triggers, for those who have a sensitivity to loud noise, holidays like the Fourth of July can be difficult, to say the least. With fireworks going off at events, barbecues and sometimes just randomly all across the nation, it can be hard to avoid [...]