I turned on “Glory” the other evening as I sat down to watch television, and I immediately went into overdrive when it showed a soldier leading a charge and his head was blown off by a cannonball.
Well, I knew when I turned it on that it was a movie about a regiment of black soldiers that fought in the Civil War. I didn’t even think about how violent it might be. It reminded me of a bit of wisdom I’ve lived by for many years: don’t feed the things that will cause distress.
My great revelation about this came when I was reading a Steven King novel one winter night…home alone, and absolutely terrified! I just knew an ax murderer was coming down the hall, or the devil was going to appear in the next room, or something horrendous was going to happen. I realized then that I was “feeding” my terror. By that I mean that I lived alone and by flooding my brain with that type of horror story, I was making life (or at least sleep) a nightmare! Lesson learned: if you live by yourself, don’t read horror stories!
It was a good lesson to learn. Sometimes we don’t have control over the things that trigger our PTSD, but many times we do. If you know war films are going to set you off, don’t watch them. If loud sounds evoke a startle response, then don’t go to the local fireworks and put yourself in that situation. Controlling your PTSD may mean controlling yourself, and it is something you can do to make a difference. Consider how long you may have to battle the flashbacks, unwanted memories or stress brought on by allowing yourself to experience that PTSD trigger. If you know you’re going to pay afterward, then stop before you go there. You are the only one who knows what can set you off. You have the ability to take control of your healing: don’t pull that trigger!