Posttraumatic Growth

“What we choose changes us.
Who we love transforms us.
How we create reshapes us.
What we do remakes us.”
— Dr. Eugene Callender

It's not always about getting just your body healthy!

I hate the “word” PTSD.  I hate the whole concept.  I don’t like feeling labeled.  I have a hard time accepting that it now part of my life and an even harder time accepting that it is part of who I am.  It makes me feel damaged- like there’s something wrong with me that can’t be fixed.  I can’t stand how my mood fluctuates when I’m tired (like instant PMS!); and as much as I love working out- I sometimes resent the fact that I have to in order to just feel normal instead of an anxious, moody mess.  Not that I come off that way to other people.  It’s funny how incongruent your thoughts and feelings can be with your actions at times.

Yesterday I watched a documentary called “Beyond Belief” which followed the story of two 9/11 widows who decided to turn their grief into productivity and created a charity to raise money for Afghan widows.  (Part of their fundraising included a biking from ground zero back to their homes in Boston- a 3 day and well over 200 mile trip) Their goal was to help foster healing and understanding, as they truly felt connected to these women despite the cultural differences and different sides in the war.  The statistics mentioned in the film about the number of widows in Afghanistan is beyond shocking, it’s downright tragic.  The circumstances these women live in are so dire.  They have no money, no education or way to create a source of income, and are unable to feed themselves or their children.  Yet, (much like the 9/11 widows) they are incredibly strong and grateful for what little they do have.  In the film, they discuss the concept of posttraumatic growth while describing these women- which, unbeknownst to me, is actually a real, studied phenomenon (If it’s on Wikipedia, so it must be real- right?)

Wikipedia defines it as follows:

Posttraumatic growth refers to positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances [1]. These sets of circumstances represent significant challenges to the adaptive resources of the individual, and pose significant challenges to individuals’ way of understanding the world and their place in it [1]. Posttraumatic growth is not simply a return to baseline from a period of suffering; instead it is an experience of improvement that for some persons is deeply profound.

I have to confess, I like the concept of posttraumatic growth FAR better than PTSD 😉  I would MUCH rather focus on growth (who wouldn’t?).  I mean, let’s be realistic here.  What are the real odds that I ever would have started this blog, set up a charity campaign, run a whole marathon, joined a board of a nonprofit, and become an advocate for other women and victims of abuse- if it had not been for the phenomenal growth I experienced as a direct result of  trauma?  I am a better person now than I was before the abuse- annoying PTSD symptoms or not.  I know the depth of my strength.  I know who am I, what I want, and where I am going. I know my resolve and determination are stronger than any doubt that I or anyone else could muster.  Most importantly, I am putting my energy into helping other people heal and creating a positive impact in the world.  Not to say that I would not have strived to make the world a better place without the “postraumatic growth”, but I don’t think it would be with the same level of passion, committment, unflinching determination.

All that being said, I’ve decided it’s time to pull out my running shoes for some actual racing and fundraising, so I’ve signed up for the Colchester Half Marathon at the end of February.  🙂


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