Everyone has heard of PTSD. But not everyone had heard of PTSS (most probably because I literally just made it up).
On my email signature I describe myself as a ‘mental health blogger of post-traumatic sparkle’ @summerstartstoshine etc, and ”PTSS’ is the new phenomenon that I totally just made up, which is essentially a fancier and sparklier way of describing post-traumatic growth.
PTSS is post-traumatic-sparkle syndrome :) I have this because I invented it 😉
I’m a person who believes in post-traumatic GROWTH, as well as post-traumatic stress.
Since the box of horrors opened in my subconscious mind, making my traumatic memories conscious and very much out there, I have suffered one hell of a lot of post-traumatic STRESS. I have experienced many other mental health-ish things beginning with the letter ‘S’ besides stress.
Suicide (ideation, preoccupation, unsuccessful attempts.)
Self-harm (to relieve tension enough to deal with the above.)
Silence and shunning (when I accused my perpetrators of their crimes and they responded with rejection.)
All of those things are awful things for anyone to deal with and cope with, but a relatively new thing to come out of my trauma is something which is really quite good……S.P.A.R.K.L.E.
People who are early on in their post-traumatic healing will most probably get annoyed at me for saying there is anything at all sparkly or growth oriented about living with the psychological and physical effects of a traumatic history, but please reserve judgement till you’ve the post.
I hear you. I know what trauma does to you. I know all of the awfulness of it first hand. I am not a trauma victim who hasn’t suffered. I would NEVER minimise trauma.
Believe me, I’ve suffered, MASSIVELY.
And a couple of years ago I would have scoffed at the concept of post-traumatic sparkling because I was so poorly back then, literally fighting for my life.
I nearly died and that wasn’t at all sparkly.
I have HATED my trauma history and everything about it almost as much as I hate the abhorrent people who did this to me.
I have lived trauma. I have survived trauma. I have hated and despised my past and I have wanted to die because of it. In truth, some days, I still wish I could die.
Wishing I could die is my NORMAL. But I made my no suicide attempt pact with my hubby, and I promise to stick to that, always.
So my choice is, what the hell do I do with a life where I don’t really want to be here at all; chronically, strongly, and all the time?
How do I tolerate living with a near constant death wish?
Well…..my answer is, I create meaning from it and purpose. I make lemonade from these sour face-pulling life lemons. I taste the trace of lemon, but instead of spitting it out, I think these are the most perfectly awesomely designed ingredients to make the most zingiest most refreshing and most delicately and beautifully tasting lemonade EVER.
I want to create something GREAT out of something hugely UN-GREAT.
I want to turn the evilest black to the purest and most innocent white.
In order for me to do that, I am having to learn to sparkle in whatever way I can. I am having to create something, when once there was nothing.
There is no handbook for this. I’m carving out my own niche.
I have learned it is more than OK to shine, and the only people who have a vested interest in preventing me doing that are those who perpetrated those dreadful acts in the first place.
I’ve noticed how survivors (including myself) often look towards others for permission to shine, because we are so used to having our inner light dimmed by very unshiny people. But the people who try and do that are, I believe, only doing it because they are stuck in their own darkness, so the only way they can feel any better about that is by dragging everyone else down to the murky depths with them.
Why do we need to be granted permission from others to shine? We are adults and can make our own decisions, right?
I’m having to make some important decisions myself lately about my future and how I choose to move forward. At every decision point I will aim to choose the sparkly way-(the PTSS way).
It really matters to me that I use my trauma and I own it.
I have assimilated trauma into my identity, but not in a victim way. I prefer to try and focus my attention on the positive aspects of my trauma history (on my better days when that is possible.) I prefer to marvel at my own strength, rather than dwell on the extent I’m broken. I aim to live with a strong sense of survivor pride instilled into my character.
I tell my story, because I am proud at what I was able to survive and because everyone should have a voice (if they want to have one and decide to assert their voice by speaking it).
My intention is not to tell people my story so they say POOR YOU. I want them instead to say BRAVE YOU! I want people to know just how much a human is capable of tolerating without breaking. I want people to not take for granted the gift of safety. I want parents to know how precious their children are, and what a privilege it is to care for and raise a child. I want people who are survivors to not feel limited by their history. I want it to be OK to share your truth without fear that people will back off if they know what happened and what exactly you endured.
I am gutted I was a victim, but I am proud of how much of a resilient survivor I am. I am proud of all of you too!
It IS possible to sparkle after trauma. It IS possible to use your pain and transform it into personal contributions you can make that benefit both individuals and wider society. I want you to know that like I know that.
My trauma is what made me. It is also what made me as strong as I am.
Without my traumatic history I wouldn’t be making the contributions to benefit others that I am making now. Without my trauma I wouldn’t have the same drive and persistence and inner motivation. Without what happened, I wouldn’t care half as much as I care for others who are vulnerable and who need those with empathy and understanding. Without my own trauma experience, I wouldn’t know how on earth to support others going through similar difficulties. I’d have no mission. No purpose that means quite as much as this does.
Of course I wish what happened hadn’t happened. Of course! But it has happened. And I will make good from it.
I suggest to all survivors that we try and retain hope and faith that we can come back from what happened to us, stronger and fighting. If not now, eventually.
I give that message to myself too, hoping I remember this on my low days when everything gets on top of me and I find it almost impossible to believe the words I’m typing now.
I’m healing, but I’m not healed yet.
I’m broken, but my repair will happen.
I’m ok today. Tomorrow is a mystery. My personal hell is behind me.
I’ll be alright. It’s over now.
It is time for summer to shine.
Here are some happy summery images I found on tumblr… 😊