Recognize Progress in PTSD Recovery to Promote Further Healing
There is no doubt that it's often hard to recognize the progress in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recovery. The symptoms of PTSD can be overwhelming and seem to be never-ending. Many times, in my own PTSD recovery, I feel like it's one step forward, two steps back -- and my focus is usually on the two steps back. But when I actually choose to look at the one step forward instead, I find that I am making progress, and that recognizing progress in PTSD recovery is important.
Why We Need to Recognize Progress in PTSD Recovery
When I look at the things that I lost, or that were taken from me, due to the trauma that caused my PTSD, it's a long list. It's no wonder, because suffering the trauma of rape and abuse is not only physically damaging, but also emotionally and spiritually detrimental. It robbed me of many things that I now know I need to feel whole, healthy, and happy. Things like positive self-worth, self-confidence, motivation, self-control, serenity, and
sobriety, were mostly missing from my life before I started PTSD treatment.
Since being in recovery, though, I find that I am rebuilding those things, little by little. Therapy, education, support from loved ones and peers, and self-care help make that rebuilding possible, but, additionally, I think that one of the biggest positive factors is being able to recognize when I've made progress in my PTSD recovery. When I focus on the steps that I am taking in the right direction, and not the setbacks, I'm adding pieces back into the parts of me that were lost. For me, that's recovery.
How to Recognize Progress in PTSD Recovery
Even though the benefits of recognizing progress in PTSD recovery are huge, I admit that it's not always easy to do. Sometimes when I have a setback, I feel like I'm right back at square one, but there are some things that I try to do to remind myself that I'm not.
- I tell myself the truth. One thing that was suggested to me to do when I am feeling down on myself, was to write a list of the things I did well that day. It doesn't matter how big or small, just recognizing that, despite hitting a roadblock, I was still able to do some things well, shows me that I am still moving in the right direction.
- I look back. When I take the time to consider how I would've reacted (or not reacted, if I had just shut down) to whatever my current setback is, earlier in my recovery, I realize that I am stronger and more resilient now.
- I stop minimizing. At times, I am inclined to minimize my progress. I think or say, "I handled that well, but I should have . . ." When I am able to eliminate the "but," and just focus on the positive, I am able to see progress.
- I express gratitude. This is hard to do in the midst of a challenge to my recovery, but I know that it works. When I am in an uncomfortable or unpleasant situation, my Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor often reminds me to think about or write down what I am grateful for in that moment. The first thing that usually comes to mind is, "This sucks," because it's hard to find gratitude when I'm having a personal crisis. But when I do it, honestly and thoughtfully, I always feel better after, and I can recognize that my recovery is progressing.
- I listen to feedback. When all else fails, I listen to others. A lot of times, it's easier for others to recognize the progress I'm making in PTSD recovery than it is for me. My husband, especially, is able to see when I handle a situation in a healthier way than I would've in the past. When he says something like, "Just a few years ago that would've thrown you for a loop for days, and today you handled it without thinking about it," I take it to heart. It's progress.
The next time you feel like you have taken one step forward and two steps back, remember to focus on the forward step. Celebrate your progress in PTSD recovery--it begets more progress.
DeLoe, J. (2016, August 25). Recognize Progress in PTSD Recovery to Promote Further Healing, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2016/08/the-importance-of-recognizing-progress-in-ptsd-recovery
Author: Jami DeLoe
Great article and so timely for me. Just came home from therapy and she told me how well I'm doing.
I've actually been able to recognize my progress more so than I ever have before. It is difficult but so vital! Thanks for the great reminder!
Your experience, strength and hope are extremely helpful - thank you. I could relate to your struggles and feel new hope in the use of 12 steps for treatment of PTSD. Is there some way we can stay in contact? I have no one to connect with in this regard.
Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it. There are some links at the bottom of my posts where you can contact me, I would love to hear from you.