A natural question, for me, is what sorts of things (if any) are not potential sources or catalysts of PTSD. Virtually anything could become traumatic for a given individual. I might be wrong, but this is how it seems to me. This is how my experiences make it seem.
In any case, this is a natural question for me. I think I do have PTSD, but it’s not due to something many people would think of as being traumatic. I went to grad school for philosophy, and I ended up dropping out. That’s an understatement in terms of how I see it, but that is the essence of what happened.
Now, I have a stress response that ticks every box on the list of symptoms of PTSD. I have bizarre triggers, flashbacks, etc. There are things that I experience now that, to me, sound ridiculous, and so I imagine they would seem ridiculous to others as well. But if I’m honest with myself, it was more traumatic for me than getting shot at, assaulted, or any of the other crap. At this point, in recovery, getting better depends on honesty, including honesty with myself. And that means that I need to deal with this, even if I think it’s ridiculous.
Being embarrassed or ashamed and letting that control me has never served me well. It’s something that I could possibly unlearn, but it will take time.
I relapsed into active ED a few months back. A large part of what was on my mind was relentless, self-deprecating bullshit. I thought a lot about how I was a worthless failure who should just die. One of the main reasons for that line of thinking was the immense regret I feel over all of this.
That regret stings worse than I could have imagined. It was never going to be easy to overcome that. But I think that I likely made it worse than it needed to be by refusing to deal with it for so long.
Several weeks ago, I started talk therapy again. Despite myself, I brought it up. Just talking about it and having it acknowledged made a little of the tension and malaise ease off. I didn’t think that it would, but it did.
I want to make it clear that self-fulfilling prophecy was not an issue here. This is why I mention that I didn’t want to talk about it and didn’t think that talking about it would help. It’s also worth noting that I had no expectations that therapy itself would benefit me.
But what else could I do?
Anyway, the point is, I need to deal with it. Before I can move past it, I need to actually work through it. Whether it’s PTSD or not doesn’t much matter. I’m only sure that I’ve tried ignoring it and that this has been a spectacular failure.
I might never go back to graduate school. I’m not sure at this point. I’m not sure if I can, and I’m also not sure if I would want to. That’s not what’s important to me right now. What’s important to me is trying to work through the regret and the shame.
If taking stabs at recovery has taught me anything, it’s this: a holistic approach is required. I won’t get anywhere with my eating disorder if I don’t deal with everything adjacent.
So, here we go.