April 25, 2009

Reflections of Self: Self-Care, Healing the Healer

I have been battling my demons also; I have an intimate understanding of an overwhelmed and heavily burden soul. I have to constantly remind myself take my time, no hurry here in the journey of healing. I thought I was literally crazy until my education on my malady gave me a sense of normalcy. I learned about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and found that I was not alone in this “inner world,” I was able to begin building a foundation on which I could begin to face my inner demons. In educating myself I had finally discovered my particular pathology and that I could watch for triggers, use newly found coping skills and find a way to express my inner torment without self destructing.

After the initial euphoria abated I discovered a false belief that I would find an inner peace upon the discovery of what ailed me, but nothing had changed except that I know more than before. I was let down, when I realized what was "wrong" with me I had an immense relief, but then it hit me that nothing had changed at all! That I did not anticipate, I was expecting this realization to have significant changes. Today I understand that nothing is wrong with me, I have yet to achieve a developmentally congruent stage that matches my age. According to Erikson’s lifespan stages I am currently battling through several stages at the same time; rapidly vacillating back and forth through stages one through seven.

It took me having to go through existential crisis’ to realize that I had an inner strength that has eluded me in the last twenty years. Subconsciously I use to feel that PTSD was a weakness, by my military training and the implications within the greater society. The stigma attached to mental illness impeded my recovery and instilled a deep sense of hopelessness that still troubles me today.

I have been considering getting involved with the Veterans Administration (VA) peer support program, but have yet to take that leap. I do know that what the expected individual involvement, but by placing myself in that role of the helper I may find my trust issues raging. I am not sure I would find that in the peer support program, but I will be making inquires soon as I have to do something different than I have lately.

To further expand my judgments and perceptions, trusting is a double-edged sword that can cut deep. So the possibly of a distorted perspective and warped sense of trust I can sometimes find fault in everyone that does not think like me. This does not mean that I have the correct assumption, my experiences in combat have vastly altered my value system, emotional make up, perceptions of others, and behaviors to name a few. I usually try and tend to my perceptions and intuitions as they can lead me in the right direction many times. Sometimes though, especially when I am more depressed than usual I cannot trust my judgment all the time. To combat this I have been seriously considering finding a male role model in the clinical field as a mentor so that he could be a model in which I could aspire to.

I will never give up on my lifelong process of healing, I have learned to better assert myself and have put away most of my outward aggression. I wish to find someone who can interact with me in a way that complements my personality, someone who can find the time and have a vested interest in my recovery and friendship. A male mentor in the clinical field would compliment and foster a sustainable growth in which I could use as a base for practicing therapy. By continuing therapy throughout the next couple of years and possibly beyond, I will be able to ensure a more balanced life and practice.

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