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  • Natalie Garcia
    Natalie Garcia

    Reclaiming Self-Awareness after PTSD

    The loss of self-awareness due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often a topic that is often buried out of fear, shame, and confusion. It affects millions of people every year, leaving them unable to cope with the daily challenges of life and lead to depression, anxiety and an overall sense of helplessness. PTSD takes away the emotional capacity to recognize one's true feelings and reactions, resulting in an emotional void that can become a huge barrier to meaningful relationships and emotional security.

    For those living with PTSD, it can be difficult to take the time and effort to explore their emotions without being overwhelmed by the effects of their trauma or the magnitude of their distress. Along with difficulty recognizing their own feelings, individuals with PTSD may also experience changes in thinking such as feelings of extreme guilt, distorted expectations, conflicts between thoughts and feelings, and problems with decision making.

    For many, these issues are compounded by the feeling of physical exhaustion and lack of self-care that often accompanies PTSD. Individuals may find themselves unable to attend to tasks and obligations, let alone deal with the mental struggle of expressing themselves emotionally and connecting with others. This inability to care for the self can sometimes lead to unhealthy and destructive behavior in search of an escape from the overwhelming feeling of all-consuming despair.

    In addition to the physical and mental effects of PTSD, many survivors also lose their sense of self-awareness. Feeling completely isolated from all that could potentially provide comfort can leave one feeling stripped away from identity as a whole. Without a proper understanding of who they truly are or what they need, it can be almost impossible to construct a healthy plan to take care of oneself or break the cycle of false coping methods.

    Taking steps towards self-awareness through the support of counselors, other survivors, family or friends is critical for anybody dealing with the impacts of PTSD. Although it takes a considerable amount of effort, understanding the person you have become as well as your triggers is the first step towards working towards healing and resolution. participating in activities that bring a sense of joy into one's life can help reunite oneself with their authentic self as well as provide ways to cope with troubling thoughts.

    It is also beneficial to practice relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing which help individuals transform their inner dialogue from negative to positive. Other exercises like journaling and controlled visualization bring more awareness to trauma survivors about how the mind and body are connected. Doing so not only creates more balance but also helps individuals recognize patterns and tendencies in order to create a game plan for managing life circumstances instead of allowing negative emotions to control behavior.

    No matter what kind of support system is put in place, it is ultimately up to the survivor to make it work for them. Loss of self-awareness due to PTSD is a complicated phenomenon that affects everyone differently, yet it can be overcome through dedication and perseverance. With correct support and an understanding attitude, those affected by PTSD can learn to once again walk down a path of understanding their own emotions and taking back control over their lives.

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