Just over two years ago a SUV sped through a red light and hit my car.
I survived. My car did not.
It took over a year before I could drive through that same intersection, and I still prefer other travel routes if possible. Big black SUV’s continue to peak my defensive awareness. It’s not a fair thing to so profile other SUV’s and their drivers.
I slow down and take extra looks at each intersection. I do so more than I realized — others asked me why I’d become like a school bus driver at railroad tracks.
It was by chance that I realized that my PTSD changed into a PTPD. PTPD, as term, does not officially exist, so I’ll coin PTPD as a new term. It ought to be granted the status of a formal label because it is the child of PSTD and because it makes sense. PTPD has made me more careful, more aware of vulnerabilities, reduced the anger over an event that I cannot undo, and added just a touch of fear sufficient to better avoid additional accidents. PTPD has worked for me several times in similar driving situations where I took extra notice of other’s driving habits (or, to be more accurate,of their driving sloppiness and arrogance’s) to avoid a collision.
PTSD kept me stale and relatively un-moving; the metabolite of PTSD , which is PTPD, make me better. Therapists unknowingly, as was I, had long been using this unknown metabolite as a therapeutic tool.
Some folks think we should work to the point where the original injury is defused and deflated such that we do not allow it to be such a big part of our daily lives. (“You need to have something else and good in your life…”) If I’d been hurt and every step I took since then made pain shoot into my body or mind, then the injury is still living. My PTSD is unlike the combat implanted ones because the gestalt of combat is one of the truly ultimate and risky of businesses, and once removed from the war theater, there ought not to be the chance of another, additional combat PTSD event. My PTST-PTPD refers to the ordinary dangers of everyday life, without the combat levels of risk, though many with horrible and lasting non-combat injuries do wonder if another injury will fall upon them.
PTSD reminded me of how random life can be and that other people will still make decisions that can hurt me. None of us live in a bubble, and now I work extra hard to help my patients know that the best help I can give them is the developing of a non-self-destructive mental approach to the randomness and unfairness in life. Part of this treatment is the development of a philosophy or attitude that allows for what had happened, and to put it into a workable perspective with a goal. Substance abuse or other reactive mental health problems too commonly reflect the lack of this understanding and goal. (Appropriate medications may be needed but not to the exclusion of verbal therapies.) If there is no other perspective to soften the fear and pain (e.g., “you can’t erase that I was in a war zone,” or “I was a crime or abuse victim.”), then the task is to build a life around it. One way is to convert the PTSD into PTPD – this uses the event to help prevent it from happening again. The pain can still exist, but pain cannot be wasted –with the right help, pain can be the strongest of the healing and changing driving forces.
This is the season of gift giving. PTPD was an unexpected gift. Actually, PTPD is more like a kit, with ‘lots of assembly’ required. I prefer kits to pre-assembled items because the kit gives me an hands-on experience into how and why the item works.
I’m pleased to have PTPD.