In a recent conversation I had with my friend Amy O’Pry Massey, we were talking about PTSD, and in her beautiful southern American accent, she said, “I think we should just drop the D because it shouldn’t be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There’s nothing disordered about this. PTSD is a normal, natural response that we have to trauma. As much as people think that PTSD is a mental affliction, it’s actually the physical alteration of our brain and its functioning.”
And I thought that was incredible. While those of us with PTSD are struggling with the aftermath of whatever trauma we’ve encountered, it doesn’t mean that our body is giving an incorrect response to trauma. It’s totally normal for our brains to develop this kind of wiring as a result of prolonged exposure to things that are not good for it. We could compare it to our immune system becoming weak when our body is exposed to infection and disease—that’s to say it’s totally natural.
The effects of post-traumatic stress suck. But the appearance of post-traumatic stress symptoms in our life isn’t an indication that there is anything fundamentally wrong with us. It is simply an indication that we’ve been deeply affected and hurt by something that would damage most people in similar situations.
So please remember that you’re not weak if you’re having difficulty processing what you’ve been through. You have been through and seen a lot. Life has beaten you up already so you don’t need to keep doing it to yourself. Patience, understanding, and self-compassion are the things that will truly help you recover on this journey of healing.