Rebecca and I are going to launch a fun PTSD Challenge: spoiler alert!
I have chatted to a few friends about this, and one, laughed saying, I know which one you are, Katie dear. “You’re a Honey Badger!” See this to understand.
I showed my kids the less expletive (swearing/cussing) version of this and they both said, “Mama you’re a honey badger.”
Made me stop and think.
Often times I march into a conversation and slap harder than I think I’m slapping, those that are getting this whole PTSD thing upside down and arse about face (in my opinion). It often shocks me that I upset the apple cart quite as much as I do. There are times that I very much want full impact and explosion – but that’s directed at institutions not individuals! Most recently I had what I thought was a philosophical discussion on whether Moral Injury was part of PTSD or separate. I think it is very much part of the PTSD matrix. Imagine my surprise when an Australian veteran metaphorically threw up on me (taught me some new words too, which is impressive considering my swearing vocabulary). Not for the first time the Honey Badger of PTSD sat back on her heels going “Huh?”
So I figured it out.
Any of you who like me have had a childhood of being literally kicked in the head, blown up and shot at will understand that fighting is the only way we survive. We don’t expect the happy, complimentary, kiss ass. In fact when we get it we squirm and want to run for the hinterlands. Struggle, strife and solo running is where we live. It’s very different for those who came to their trauma later in life. They have a memory of life before it, their injury is one that is quite different to ours. I wonder when the PTSD medical world will catch up to this knowledge: we are not the same.
Kind of funny when folk get into the “My trauma is bigger than yours” BS. What is key is how they are different in origin and impact; how severe they are is utterly pointless. It’s the difference between sitting in the pig swill and standing up, getting out of it.
Growth Mind Set.
Had another little run-in with a Twitter #PTSDChat community member who whilst welcome to blog on the PTSDChat.org was upset to be told that he couldn’t use it as a platform for revenge. I’ve got no time for the personal vendetta, or the wallowing in the past, mentality. If all you have to offer is repeating over and over and over again “Woe is me: They did this: I got hurt …” then run along, this isn’t the place to be. Either switch it up and focus on moving forward or become irrelevant, an echo of the past. By all means lets shout about institutions that are failing their members (like the Australian Police Force en masse – horrifying!); but the nitty gritty and nasty? Nope. Zip interest, so long as you want to harp on about what “they did” to you, they remain in control of you and I’m not going to support that kind of decay; like a disease it will chew you up from the inside out.
I have a friend who is struggling, fighting for her life. Her past has trapped her. Her mind has imprisoned her in a circle of pain that shows no chink of hope or light. All there is, is the past of broken dreams and failures. Spiralling into the abyss.
Somehow, in some way, she needs to hook her fingers into the walls of the hole and hold on. Pull herself, bit by bit back up and out. Focusing on the bad and evil; the past and the hurt is the fuel that will see her crash to her death. Only by choosing a Growth Mind Set, as namby pamby as that sounds, is she going to survive this hell. The PTSD Shadowlands want to kill you, be in no doubt about it, it is a fight for life.
It is beyond hard to walk by her side, having no control on the outcome nor can I allow myself to invest in the outcome. She must choose for herself, her journey is her own. As a friend of somebody struggling with PTSD, fighting for their life, we can only be there quietly, supportive, listening, pushing them to laughter as often as possible, reminding them that they are strong and that they can fight this. At the end of the day though, it is not my journey. That’s very important to remember.
So depending on how and when we were traumatized, our experience of PTSD is different, however, we share one thing: that is that we need to get back to basics in order to heal. Like anybody who has suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury) we need to relearn “The How To” of life.
I took this from my 8 year old’s curriculum:
A child’s natural ability contributes only 25% of achievement. The other 75% are psychological skills that must be deliberately developed. The important skills we can help our children develop include:
- coping skills for disappointment and failure
- the ability to handle constructive feedback
Of these I think the most important lesson is to accept failure and see it as an important, necessary step towards success. Without failure there is no success.
Those of us with Complex PTSD have those five life skills taken away from us. We need to get them back.
I fall on my face regularly and with amazing dexterity I can blow myself up without much effort. But this Honey Badger gets the hell up and fights another day. The same friend who dubbed me “Honey Badger” picked me up off the floor when I was heartsick and feeling like nothing I did ever made an iota of difference, slowly the abyss was opening under my feet and he said, “the Kate I know will let this sting and hurt for a day, then she will pick herself up, dust herself down and find the next windmill to tilt at”. He was right. That’s true friendship for a PTSD survivor: somebody who reminds us of who we are when we can no longer remember.
So this Honey Badger: she’s used to being kicked in the head and frankly, when the kicking stops she gets a little nervous. Choose to fight. There is nothing else and death is the end; it really isn’t as fun as it sounds, trust me on that I’ve been there and done that. It taught me to fight for just a moment of joy in a lifetime of suffering: that moment is worth everything.