Today I want/need to talk about shields.
Bartlett: CPTSD and PTSD shields. She-Ra’s or He-Man’s?
She-Ra had one. He-Man had one.
Both conscious fighters of evil, preservers of what’s good, and defenders of the universe. Both my childhood heroes and now childhood heroes of my young children decades later. Remember that segment at the end of each episode where there’s a (what we would call today) mindfulness moment where the character talks directly at the viewer? Powerful stuff!
What do CPTSD or PTSD survivors (we do not use the word ‘victim’) use to defend themselves when all has been broken and torn apart? Our natural born (normal) defences are damaged due to mental trauma and have been either suddenly or systematically over many years, perhaps even a lifetime, dissolved.
If you’re alive to read this right now, then whatever you have experienced, I promise you, YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. You found your SHIELD.
After undertaking months of EMDR together with 8 years and counting of weekly therapy sessions I have come to realise that the shield that saved my life many times over needs an upgrade if I’m going live a happier and safer life. I’m 44 years old now, so I’m going to make sure I’m tool’d up to the max! I’m seeing my children graduate. I’m going have some new adventures, I’m going to be a loving granny and wife, and continue to be there for my children as long as my earthly biological form can hold out.
How do I upgrade my shield though? I need to minimise or head off exposure to any traumatic event that resembles any of the horrors I have been through or transports me back to old lives. This means books, magazines, film, tv, radio, going for a coffee or a dinner party with loose toungued acquaintances or total strangers, etc… It could be a place or building where traumas took place even. Search your mind, you will know.
Being aware is mentally exhausting. However, what you must realise is that you are now full of SUPERPOWERS (don’t believe me? read Dr John A King’s book ‘#DEALWITHIT: Living Well with PTSD’). You and I are now hypersensitive. We have an early warning system in our guts that sends warning signals to our brains when a danger you may or may not remember experiencing before might happen. Kinda like a Spidey-sense.
There may be some television programmes, books or films coming out that you love the idea of and would find so interesting or are thinking might feed your ‘self-harm’ cravings. Maybe everyone in your close influencer circle is raving about it. Stop! Think! Imagine holding your shield up to something (design it in your head as fabulous or simple as you’d like it to be, because only you can see it) until you can be sure the situation is safe. You wouldn’t go into a battlefield totally exposed would you? Life is a battlefield for CTPSD and PTSD survivors remember.
So, how are you going to begin upgrading your shield right now? Think of what your triggers are and programme them using some creative visualisation to make sure that your shield is at maximum protection status. The more you put this into practice, the safer and happier your life will become. Yes, it means there will be the inevitable situation when you are exposed, but in the moment put up your shield. Move away. Cover you eyes/ears. You are in control. Be safe.
Enjoy being your version of She-Ra or He-Man today, I know I will!
Bartlett: CPTSD and PTSD shields. She-Ra’s or He-Man’s? (c) 2019 Laura Devlin