Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can take over every aspect of your life. In addition to the damage that it does to your relationships and at times, your career, PTSD can rob you of your happiness, sense of humor, and creativity. It can steal your zest for life.
Many people who suffer this disorder report that they no longer recognize themselves. They see their reflection in the mirror and of course, they recognize their reflection, but who they are and what they see are two different images. Some people lose their ability to laugh and make jokes. It is as if their sense of humor has completely died and they are rarely able to deliver a single humorous line. Other people lose the ability to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes. Complex problem solving and complex tasks can be more difficult for someone who has PTSD. Some are so severely affected by fear and disorientation that a simple trip to the grocery store is too much for them to handle, especially alone. They start to hyperventilate and then go into panic mode in the cereal aisle. Some can become so overwhelmed that they have to leave the store.
Some people become angry and that anger is with them 24 hours a day. They feel full of rage and out of control at times- not knowing what will set them off next, but knowing that they can’t always control their reactions. Some people cry and cry until they pass out or exhaust themselves into staring at the wall. Either way, some cry until they are emotionally drained on a daily basis. These are all extreme reactions to the symptoms of this disorder, but they are also very common reactions. Most people who have PTSD have experienced most or all of these symptoms on some level.
PTSD will change every aspect of your personality. Suffering from post traumatic stress doesn’t mean that something scary happened and now the person merely feels jittery and unsure. Biologically, the brain is working very hard to process experiences that it can barely comprehend; let alone categorize. Because of the severity of that event, the brain is physiologically altered. Some areas of the brain that are responsible for memory and emotion become severely damaged. Complex neurological pathways are distorted. The body either repairs them or forms new pathways and this can lead to changes in temperament, personality traits, preferences, and perspectives.
This is why nearly everyone who has PTSD and their friends and families say that they are no longer the same person. They are correct. They don’t feel the same. They don’t think the same. They are not the same person and may never be that person again. They have to rediscover who they are, which can be a long process.
Healing from PTSD does not mean that you return to your former mental self unchanged and unscathed. A big part of healing means that you discover and develop new traits, talents, interests, and perspectives. This can be very tough to accept without having gone through a proper grieving process first. Once you accept that your personality and the way that you relate to the world are now coming from a different perspective, your brain will initiate the rest of the healing process.
If you take a positive view of this concept, you may find that you enjoy getting to know yourself again. It is a progression that takes time, observation, and patience. Think of it as a mental journey to rediscover who you are and how you roll. Along the way, you could find that your sense of humor has merely been hiding and your creativity and zest are not all that far away.