In previous articles, I’ve mentioned that I have PTSD. I’m definitely closer to the recovered end of the spectrum these days, but the healing I’ve found has come at a price.
We have some pretty fluffy ideas about what healing looks like. I mean, who doesn’t want to go overseas to ingest some of that Eat Pray Love medicine? But let’s be real: most of us can’t afford to jump on a plane and relax our way to better mental health. If you can do that, power to you. But if you can’t, don’t despair.
There is a cure for those of us struggling with the aftermath of trauma, and it’s found in the precious mundane.
From One Extreme to the Other
If you have PTSD, you know that emotions tend to swing from one extreme to the next; the physical senses are amplified, strong and negative emotions surface—seemingly out of the blue—and we can be triggered by anything that reminds of the experiences that got us here in the first place. Needless to say: this makes being a functional adult in a demanding, fast-paced world rather difficult. It tests our relationships, it can push our bodies into dysfunction, and send our lives into chaos.
When we feel like we’ve lost control of ourselves, we start self-flagellating; wishing we felt differently so we could act differently.
Finding Middle Ground
The thing about PTSD and recovery is that it’s complex. It’s not as simples as 1 2 3 you’re fixed. It requires therapy, self-compassion, and time. It also requires gentle reminders from people who have your back that not everything is the PTSD. There were definitely times that I thought some of my problems were PTSD specific, but it turned out that some things were just general, across-the-board human experiences.
5 Truths I Have Learned About Balance
People who aren’t necessarily dealing with the ramifications of trauma still experience struggle—because challenges are rites of passage into the realm of personal growth that all human beings experience at one point or another.
So when you feel down on yourself for being off-kilter, here are 5 truths to remind yourself that you’re not actually failing as hard as you think.
#1 Balance doesn’t always feel like balance.
It usually requires discipline and, for some of us, discipline is joyless and anxiety-inducing. It’s hard work. But it’s hard work that always pays off.
#2 Balance doesn’t always feel like balance, but we don’t let our emotions lead the way because nothing will get done.
When I let my feelings run the show, I end up eating double choc-chip ice-cream while watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt every night. It is our responsibility as individuals to find ways to regulate our emotions in healthy ways so that we can cope—alongside a very big dose of self-compassion, of course.
#3 Spinach. Broccoli. Greens, in general, are life.
Each time I eat them, it’s like a spa for my insides. They are stamina-maintaining, immune-system-boosting, and mood-stabilizing gifts from the gods.
#4 There will always be some form of unrest around us.
We will have deadlines, daily grind, relational bumps in the road, and the grief of a broken planet to process–until the day we die. But in between resolving that argument, we meditate. In between work deadlines, we get to the yoga mat. Instead of absorbing the painful energy of a traumatized world, we still our minds to practice presence and gratitude. We restore equilibrium by nurturing ourselves.
#5 “No” is the “Abracadabra” of staying sane.
“No” can mean prioritizing solitude over socializing for mental health. But it can also mean prioritizing a coffee catch up with a friend to clear your mind–even if the assignment is due in four hours.
When we reframe PTSD as a perfectly natural, normal response to trauma, we can see that we’re not as different from other people as we might feel.
You’ve got this.