This is a great question and it takes courage to ask it, and even more to take action from it.
Maybe I'm just fortunate in that I am down only for a short while. Maybe I've just seen too much to not find gratitude in all the small things I have around me. This sounds harsh as I know some people just can't see this with what they are dealing with right now but hang in there as it will clear and remind yourself how far you have come already.
We forget to give ourselves praise for what we have overcome.
What do I do when I am struggling?
I turn to exercise. It's my way of distracting myself from the difficulties and in turn, it changes my energy and allows me to rethink, or reframe what has been said or seen. A clearer mind allows me time to think about how to respond and what to do.
Exercise grounds me and allows me to feel into my body.
Mind and body working together. Right now in my life, it's either cycling or karate. Sadly on my own, as clubs here are not accepting new people at the moment due to restrictions, which is understandable. But with cycling, I have open space and headspace and with karate, I have only to find a small area to practice. My only opponent is me. Perfection of character through training.
What's Karate got to do with helping cope with PTSD? More than you think. You start your martial arts journey and everything feels clunky and awkward. You ache in places you've never ached before. You may just start in tracksuit bottoms or shorts and a T-shirt. You feel out of place as everyone else is wearing a Gi, (karate suit.) You try and coordinate your body to something that looks like everyone else and you find you are blowing out of your arse and sweating profusely. You might even be asking yourself, 'how can I get out of this right now?' or 'surely it has to get easier?' Even, 'why am I doing this to myself?' You're exhausted and you are way out of your comfort zone. You see others and think, 'I want to be like that', or 'I could never do that.' The mind is in control now. You either think to yourself, 'sod this, I can't do it', or you think, right dig a little deeper and keep trying. The first session is always the worst.
The real test is, do you turn up for the second class? Are you prepared to push past being uncomfortable? A decent club and its members aren't there to break you, they are there to encourage and help train alongside you. The more you do something the more the muscle memory adjusts and allows you to flow. The brain acts in a similar fashion. Repetition. I can find a million excuses not to train but 1 very good reason to train.
If we can 'talk ourselves out of it'...........
then surely, 'we can talk ourselves into it too.'
It's amazing for the focus of the mind and body, to activate the blood flow and lymphatic system, plus releasing endorphins and adrenaline, the feel-good energy. And to feel connected with myself. Grounded and feeling in control. Break things down into achievable goals. A black belt is just a belt, it's the commitment to bettering yourself, being prepared to fail and not give up, being determined to try again is what really counts. To achieve beyond what you could imagine yourself doing. Don't look for quick results. Look for solid foundations in progressing forwards.
I hope this helps inspire. Train every day in whatever you do. Reaching your goals takes time and focus, dealing with PTSD takes focus, time and effort. But you are worth it. Movement comes in many forms. Do what makes you happy. Small progress steps can go unnoticed. Keep moving forward and look back in a weeks time. 2 weeks time and more. Then you'll see how far you've travelled.
So now change the scenario to a visit to a therapist to discuss PTSD.
It will take you way out of your comfort zone into unknown questioning and pushed down thoughts or answers you may need to progress. You may feel exhausted and need to run out as you may become uncomfortable. You may feel you don't want to do it again or it was pointless and you felt nothing. What may happen if you keep regular training? It may not feel so awkward, it may not feel so strange. If in a karate class and you pair up with a black belt, you are thinking many things. Your fight, flight or freeze response is on full alert. But at some point, you have to trust this complete stranger and trust they won't punch your face into next week, but stop on the chin and help you by guiding you on what actions to take to move and block this punch. The same then goes for a therapist. At some point, you have to trust they have your best intentions to help you through this. They aren't there to break you, they are there to find the root cause so they can, with your help, deal with and make progress, plus assist you to get to where you want to be.
How can I make simple daily changes?
Try listening to upbeat music. Place affirmations around the house or have cards with you when out. Small reminders of encouragement. Reframe your thoughts and look for 3 positive answers rather than 1 negative response. Make routines and reward yourself for achieving them.
It's not quite the same but it's my sense of humour, if the black belt keeps hitting you, move and move faster. It won't be long and you will be blocking and striking back. Confidence grows quickly. Self-esteem and self-worth need to be nurtured and cared for.
Sometimes gentle persuasions come along as a gentle shove.
Rest and recovery are just as important as the training itself. Go easy on yourself.
Well-being and mental health issues are sadly on the rise, therefore we must look after ourselves too. Stay connected and reach out if needed.
Don't suffer in silence.
It's OK to NOT be OK.....