We’ve talked before about the importance of reclaiming your life as you begin to heal from PTSD, and it may be helpful to spend a bit more time on how to accomplish that. When you challenge your tendency to isolate and force yourself to do the things that move you out of your comfort zone, you are actually expanding your comfort zone and growing. While it may not seem like it at the time, if you are successful in completing whatever activity you’ve chosen to do, and if you’ve managed to reach even a small level of comfort as you did it, then your comfort zone has been stretched. Each subsequent time you indulge in a similar activity, you should grow a bit more comfortable with it until eventually, you are comfortable doing things you never thought you’d willingly do again.
Of course, this isn’t a straight line of healing. There are times you’ll be quite content doing the chosen activity, and then the next time, you’ll find it’s anxiety-provoking again. That’s okay. It’s likely to be easier the next time you try it.
Healing doesn’t happen overnight. The same as it takes months or years for broken bones or torn muscles to heal, it will take that long for your psyche to heal too. If you find it difficult to let yourself get involved in groups of people, then you may want to start with small steps – first spending more time with individuals, then adding more people into your life, one at a time. As time goes on, you’ll learn to tolerate having more people around you without feeling so anxious and uncomfortable. In effect, you’re setting your emotional meter back to normal.
While you don’t have to tolerate large groups of people all the time, or for long, extended periods of time, it’s fairly common in life to encounter groups of people, such as when you are going to the movies or attending holiday gatherings with family. Stretching your tolerance levels should make these events easier to get through and not the anxiety provoking situations they might be now.
If, during this process, you find you can’t move forward then, perhaps, it’s time to ask for help. There are wonderful programs available for coping with PTSD, some of them you can utilize right in your own home. Keep trying; life may never be the same as it was before PTSD, but you can heal, and you can live in peace again.