July 3, 2013
I had a productive and demanding visit with my therapist yesterday. We took the very consequential step of writing up a treatment plan that will frame the work we do together. It has now been eight days since my PTSD diagnosis. I am still adjusting to the implications this diagnosis has for my current and future life. Early this afternoon I will meet with a cardiologist to assess the health of my heart. I am motivated to do this primarily to determine whether there was any permanent damage done to my heart by immense stress I experienced in early 2012. It is my hope and prayer that there will be no findings of any damage.
It seems all I do these days is "clean up" one section after another of my life. It has been an amazing process just to screen my health in a comprehensive way to assess what is ultimately going in within me so that I can move forward in the healthiest way possible.
Early this morning I came across a posting of a friend on Facebook. The topic of the posting was shame. And it's ironic that the topic is discussed with Oprah Winfrey as I was just last night talking to a friend about how I have my own reservations about how I will be perceived by expressing my journey so openly in a blog. I believe American culture's confessional bent, i.e. its seeming obsession with airing personal laundry and skeletons long trapped in closets, is not necessarily entirely healthy. Confession can be good for the soul so long as we don't wallow in our shadow and pain. I call this confessional bent an aspect of Oprah culture. And yet I do not mean to disparage Oprah; I believe her show did much good in the world during its years on television.
And so now on to the topic of shame. I have been aware since my decision to begin this blog yesterday that I had to pierce through some form of resistance to begin documenting this journey in this particular venue. I do not detect within myself shame due to the diagnosis I received. But I do feel American culture can be very shaming and destructive in the sense that I believe we are expected to put up with many horrible aspects of our society and somehow NOT develop symptoms typical of PTSD. It seems to me that people with PTSD might easily feel shame when given such a diagnosis. Perhaps people think to themselves "I should have been stronger" and "I should have known what to do to cope with what happened to me" and so on. But we are all human and I believe what we need more of in the world is compassion and empathy. I believe these wonderful human qualities would make for more functional nation states and a healthier planet.
I feel sad about my diagnosis. I also feel happy and proud that I am seeking out help. In my opinion, a diagnosis of PTSD is not something you should be ashamed of.
Watch the following clip for some great insight into the nature of shame.