I remember the first time I felt it; that urge to drift to sleep, to shut away from the real world because of what I had been through. It lasted a week and I hated being alive, being able to relive all those painful memories, memories that reeked of a helplessness so pathologically ingrained in me that they would always make me feel helpless, regardless of my current situation. It was like waking up to a visceral nightmare because my mind kept telling me that something was not okay, that something needed to be addressed and I didn’t have to keep repressing it, confining it to the dark recesses of the subconscious mind.
I realized then that if I kept resisting the urge to address it, it would mean that I would be schlepping from unconsciousness to a living nightmare, and I didn’t have to by all accounts. Our mind is the sum total of our individual experiences and we derive our intrinsic instincts from it, but I wasn’t the kind of person who believed in facing my fears. After that traumatic event, I became detached from the very bondage of having to ruminate on it, and I was only exposing myself to hordes of concomitant problems by choosing to turn a blind eye to my mind’s restless musings.
Because a traumatic event, by definition, shakes you out of your usual comfort zone, there’s a need to go over the minutiae of said event in order to bring everything into perspective, to align the mind’s bird’s eye with the unusual incident. The literature on post traumatic stress disorder is vast enough for us to opine that the mind does get altered following a drastic, peculiar incident and therefore some people need help in facing reality after going through, what could possibly be, a life altering event.
That kind of help isn’t available to everyone. People in the army are the poster people for PTSD but this condition just doesn’t affect those who’ve been exposed to the ravages of bloodshed, nor does it entail a situation that involves any bloodshed. Any kind of violent event, which leaves you feeling a certain way, has the ability to rattle you to such an extent that your mind never truly gets conditioned to real life, as it were. Instead, your mind constantly fearmongers against reality, afraid that it might have to go through such an event again, for it had an unimaginable effect on it the first time around.
Although psychologists have developed methods for addressing such a condition, there are certain ways in which one can train their mind to heal itself of such wounds. As it happens, the mind that we’re born with undergoes several stages of change over the years and the only person that would understand what it goes through, is the owner of that mind. Just like you’re very much aware of the things that you like and you do not like, you’d be better suited at your own recovery, and this doesn’t entail a whole lot of self-hypnosis or reminiscing, it just requires an iota of self-awareness.
We talk about a lot of mental states, of fleeting feelings that have an air of urgency to them but we rarely address the crux of the issue. What truly matters is how we perceive ourselves and how we ought to train our minds to materialize those thoughts. For eons, people have come up with fancy terms and avant-garde professions in trying to direct people’s thoughts for their own betterment but rarely do they seek to steer them toward the only feasible direction in which such a venture would prove beneficial. But the thing is, how you describe your feelings to professionals isn’t always how they would interpret it, for the science behind the conditions associated to the mind, isn’t universally accepted.
Psychology evolved from mystical dwellings to a sophisticated field akin to other health-related professions. Patients are routinely advised on medication that would mitigate their conditions, and sometimes extreme measures such as cognitive training are adopted in the case of those people whose condition requires them to undergo behavioral therapy. But while all of this sounds promising, it would seem to have eschewed a more direct and logical route. Instead of relying on others’ perception of one’s mental state, it would seem more appropriate to arrogate to ourselves the authority to question our own mind.
And in doing so, a healthy dose of self-awareness is necessary. Forget about self-confidence, self-esteem and all those campy feel-good terms that have gained momentum alongside the obsession with the ”self”. It’s not enough to be self-confident or to have a healthy opinion of oneself when our self awareness is acutely low, to the point where we cannot even relate to our own mind. This divide arises because of how far off we’ve veered from the analytical standpoint of our own existence, as we sheepishly cling to those feel-good factors that don’t necessarily make us feel good. Instead of correlating happiness to these ideas that might not even naturally occur in some of us, we should try to form our own vantage point, in assessing our own progress in life.
So dealing with post traumatic stress in that case, would depend entirely on our motivation to make peace with unsettling events. When the mind is in the process of developing its foothold on reality during our formative years, it doesn’t self-regulate in a way that it might when one has reached adulthood. Instead, it picks the fragments that have defined our formative years-good or bad-and forms a definite idea about its existence in our mind. In other words, it normalizes what didn’t use to be normal. Of course, not every normalization will lead to mental stability, and one might argue that the converse is true, but the gist of it is-the mind learns to adapt because every new experience becomes a threshold.
In adulthood, that threshold is often put to the test. We find ourselves in situations where our whole belief system might crumble, due to the weight of reality. Many people choose to ignore reality so as not to compromise the feeble scaffold of their whole belief system, and that’s when the situation becomes dire. In trying to delude ourselves that a healthy mind is a happy one, we form unnatural ideas about how to cope with tragedy or disillusionment. When someone is in the throes of a post traumatic stress episode, the mind instinctively clings to relics of a better past, shielding our view from what truly needs addressing-its wounds.
Healing those wounds isn’t an easy task but it’s one worth trying. In essence, a foray into philosophy and literature would help a great deal, as post traumatic stress is nothing but the reaction of a very naive mind. When your mind is open not only the joys and wonders of the universe, but also to its greater scourges and tragedies, it will gain the ability to self-heal. And that’s neither a bold statement nor is it a daunting realization, it’s rooted in the idea that individual experiences require firsthand knowledge that doesn’t always translate into reality in a therapy session.
Anything that has the ability to affect your emotions and mental stability, isn’t a mere condition that ought to be outsourced to a third-party for a rigorous review. It’s a reminder that your mind needs you, more than it needs the validation of an outside party.