Having been involved, passionately, in the PTSD debacle over the past 18 months what I’ve learned is what the title says, “PTSD is a choice”. Stating this to most people who have been diagnosed will strongly disagree without hesitation. Why? Because most everyone feels there is no alternative. You’re broke, you can’t be fixed so we’ll treat it forever. That’s where the problem lies.
There is a broad range of data from studies dating back to over 50 years on this particular topic and epidemic. It’s easy to just throw a label on it. I agree that PTSD could be the triggering factor, so I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. Trauma is real and comes in many different forms (i.e. sexual, physical, emotional, etc.). People seek out many types of therapy to “deal” with the issues (Prolonged Exposure, Cognitive Processing Therapy, EMDR, etc.). Desensitizing yourself does not work and only leads to more issues later in life. My experience is mainly related to those in the military community since that’s what my background is and that’s what I’m on a mission to rectify. Stating that it’s a choice implies that there is an alternative. There is. You can sink or swim. Accepting the diagnosis and simply existing is the sinking piece. The swim piece would give way to HOPE. “If you do what you’ve always done you get what you’ve always had”, as the old saying goes. Change has to take place and that comes in the form of challenge. You have to get uncomfortable. Giving up is easy, fighting is not.
What is the alternative? PTG or Post Traumatic GROWTH. You have to struggle to grow. There is your hope, PTG. Some folks will get mad at me and argue this, saying that something in particular happened to them. You know what? You’re not broken. You WERE a victim. You’re not anymore, unless you CHOOSE to continue to wear the victim label. I know many people and have spoken with many people who have experienced traumatic events in their lives. They choose NOT to let that event dictate who they are today. Even 5 minutes ago was the past. You can’t change what happened. You can, however, change what happens going forward. If you want to live in the valley feeling sorry for yourself, that’s entirely up to you. If you want to go out and crush life, create a legacy, be an advocate for change you can do that too. PTG is a lifelong process and it’s finish product is infinite. A person can continue to thrive until they die and continue to touch lives after they’re gone through their writings and stories. Mindset if everything. If you’re not willing to seek change now, you’re not at rock bottom yet. A break thru requires a breakdown. Only at rock bottom can you begin to create something incredible because rock bottom is the best foundation in which to build upon. I like to visit with folks who claim they have PTSD. I’ve found that some of them do not. They, instead, have delusional type of disorder in which they use to seek attention. The PTSD may be there but it’s not because of what they blame it on. It’s something else, something deeper. They are using it for attention. The wrong kind of attention. That’s a whole other topic.
The bottom line is this, question everything and push back against what you are told you are. You decide who and what you are. You can accept it if it fits and makes you feel good. If it doesn’t, define who YOU are. Maintain forward focus on life. Only reflect rearward to see how far you’ve come and how much success you have experienced. Especially in the medical field. Remember, everything related to science is based on theory, not fact. If you look back over the past 1000 years and read what was once stated as a scientific fact, and now you can read that it may have changed a bit or maybe they were wrong, you can see that it’s all theory. “Scientific theories and scientific facts cannot be proven true; they can only be shown to be useful.” When a doctor tells you this or that, it’s theory and opinion based on their best human processing ability. Many people have been told they have a set amount of days to live due to cancer or some illness. Say, 6 months. Here they are telling their friends about their story 15 years later. Only God controls our time. “You aren’t dead because He isn’t done”. We all have our own stories and we are all amazing people. We all have a purpose. You may not know yours yet, just know that you are important and it’s our duty to be the best version of us we can be. Go against the norm and be freaking awesome!! The world depends on us! You can choose the alternative to PTSD. Choose Post Traumatic Growth and begin your new story today. Choose today how your life ends many years from now; touching and impacting many lives in a positive way along your journey.
Richard G. Tedeschi received his B.A. in Psychology from Syracuse University, his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Ohio University, and completed his Clinical Psychology Internship at The University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Dr. Tedeschi is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and serves as Graduate Coordinator for the MA Psychology program. He is a Licensed Psychologist specializing in bereavement and trauma. With his colleague Lawrence Calhoun, he has published books on posttraumatic growth, an area of research that they have developed that examines personal transformations in the aftermath of traumatic life events. Their most recent book is Posttraumatic Growth: Theory, Research, and Applications (2018). Dr. Tedeschi serves as a consultant to the American Psychological Association on trauma and resilience, and as a subject matter expert for the US Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program. He is a recipient of the Mary G. Clarke Award for Distinguished Service to Psychology given by the North Carolina Psychological Association, and is past President of NCPA.
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