Managing Traumatic Stress and Combat PTSD Through The R-E-C-O-V-E-R Approach*
ORGANIZING A CARE PLAN: YES, YOU CAN
Bad Is Never Good Enough: For countless survivors of trauma, including servicepersons, vets and civilians alike, the idea of actually being able to TAKE THE LEAD, YOURSELF, in formulating an actual PLAN FOR YOUR CARE has seemed impossible. When Dr. Croft and I ask vets, for example, to tell us what their care plan is, we are usually met with glazed eyes and a glassy stare. "Care plan? What's that?", they say. "No one EVER discussed making a care plan for me, let alone told me that I could start to create one on my own !" Inevitably, most of these vets' idea of a "care plan" is to go on "embracing the suck," just as they always have.
Stop Accepting the "Suck" As Something Inevitable: This is a tragic and unnecessary waste of human potential. Just because you have become accustomed to settling for things being "bad" does NOT make them "good enough. " Remember how the material in Chapter 3 of "I Always Sit With My Back To The Wall" explains how the brain can become accustomed, and then habituated to certain behaviors? Well, putting up with "the suck" is one of those behaviors ! It makes Dr. Croft and me want to get on the roof of the highest building we can find and shout to everyone who will listen: "WAKE UP. GET UP. LOOK UP. There is a better way. YouCAN change your life."
Start Using The Skills You Forgot You Had: One of the biggest mistakes that people with PTSD make is believing that one of two things are true, when they are not:
"I am not competent to help myself."
"The only one who is competent is a psychiatrist, so I have to just turn my life over to him/her. "
Both of these ideas are false. The first thing we ask you to do is make a list of everything that you ever learned to do in their life, work, or school. In that list of skills you will discover what you probably forgot: you DO have the skills that you need to begin helping yourself.
If you are now, or have been in the military, for example, just THINK of all the organizational, operational and logistical skills that you either had, or were taught to have. Some of these skills include identifying a problem, making a written summary or outline of the problem, submitting a report to a commanding officer or superior, determining what steps are needed to chart a "way forward", "actioning" one or more items, following complex instructions and learning to do certain things faithfully every day. Did it ever occur to you that these are the EXACT same skills you would use in creating a care plan for PTSD? Yes, you can do this.
If you are a housewife who can follow a recipe, then you know how to follow ordered instructions. You also know how to problem solve. If you go to your children's parent-teacher conferences, you can learn how to have a productive meeting with a professional. If you help organize your child's little league, you already know how to participate in or coordinate a team effort. If your child has a need that must be met, you already know how to pick up the phone and be persistent in contacting people until you find one who can help. Did it ever occur to you that these, too, are skills for creating a PTSD care plan? Yes, you can do this.
If you can use a computer to do research on the web, use Mapquest or a GPS to chart a journey, or if you can follow a road map and look for landmarks to help you observe your environment and chart your way, in order to get where you want to go, you are, again, using skills for creating a PTSD care plan . Yes, you can do this.
In short, the most important skills for the creation of a PTSD care plan are SKILLS YOU ALREADY HAVE. The only thing you may need is (l) the ability to recognize those skills, (2) the desire to put them to work for you, and (3) the awareness that, if you do so, you can significantly change your life.
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