We have all heard about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), well I wanted to talk about something called Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).
Please note I am no psychologist and have no desire to be one. But I am fascinated about personal development so when I came across this term Post Traumatic Growth, I read a little more, I found that there were many parallels and similarities with my own recovery journey, and I wanted to share this with you.
So, what’s the difference between Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to individuals who find no benefit from their trauma only pain and anxiety.
Post-traumatic growth (PTG) refers to the positive life changes that may come about from trauma or traumatic event. PTG is about being able to maintain a sense of hope that not only can a person who has experienced trauma survive but they can also experience positive life changes as a result.
Addiction can be a result of a traumatic event and/or Addiction can cause a traumatic event.
I am a firm believer that for some people the addiction in itself can be a traumatic experience. Now I am not for one-minute excusing the addictive actions and behaviours of addicts. But I do believe that at the core and one of the more often-overlooked consequences of addiction (albeit) self-inflicted is the emotional abuse/trauma on the addict as a result of the lengths they have gone to feed their habits. For example, living on the streets, living in constant fight or flight mode, losing children, being involved in violent relationships, sexual exploitation, Christ the list goes on an on…
What I am trying to say is that sometimes recovering from addiction can be as traumatic as the event that might have triggered the addiction in the first place.
There is a saying “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” well I don’t know about any of you, but I am personally grateful for all the shit/trauma I have been through because I truly believe that I am a better person for it. And I know for certain had it not been for some of the personal trauma that drove my addiction, I wouldn’t have found the hidden abilities and strengths that existed within me, for me this is Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) in action.
And I am not alone, over the past 20+ years I have supported, worked alongside, and had the privilege to witness others who have successfully been able to walk away from highly addictive substances. I have seen broken men/women morph, from caterpillar, chrysalis, to then transform into a butterfly with colourful exquisite wings that allow them to fly.
Did you know that in order to be able to become a butterfly, the caterpillar has to fall apart completely, decompose down to its very essence, devoid of any shape or consciousness. It literally dies. There is nothing left of it. And from this liquid essence, the butterfly starts to put itself together, from scratch? Now that’s recovery.
Below are some of the benefits reported from Post Traumatic Growth;
Feeling stronger and finding hidden abilities and strengths; this changes the person’s self-concept and gives them the confidence to face new challenges “If I can survive this, I can survive anything”
Relationships are strengthened, which is reflected in how people often speak of “finding out who their true friends are” after they have experienced a trauma
Peoples priorities have shifted, and philosophies concerning the present day and other people are altered, e.g. “living for the moment and prioritising yourself and your loved ones”
For those of you in recovery reading this, does this sound familiar?
There is a misconception out that people’s recovery journeys start when they stop abusing substances. But in fact, people’s recovery journey’s start when they start doing some self-exploration, when they start to learn about themselves.
Post-traumatic growth it doesn’t mean that there is an absence of distress quite the contrary, sometimes our recovery can feel as risky as some of the risks we took when using. There had been many a time I felt like throwing in the towel and saying, “Fuck it!”. Trust me exposing ourselves to our own truths can be one of the most daunting and scary experiences we will ever go through
Recovery is hard and can be a very traumatic experience for most involved, but it is worth it and with support, recovery can offer us the opportunity not just to resist taking substance, but it can give us opportunities to grow and be a the very best version of ourselves.
Just like the Butterfly, be proud of your recovery transformation and fly
Try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too