In spite of everything that goes on around us, life still happens. Regardless of what’s on the evening news and whether or not it rains or pours or the sun comes along to dry up all the rain, life is still life. Time is still time and nothing we can do will change this.
Make no mistake about this; the clock is always on. Time is inevitable and eventual. And it’s enough to hurt and bewilder; it’s enough to shock the heart and soul, straight down to the very core of our being.
In the face of hardships and in the midst of tragedy, time keeps moving. In the grips of loss and the sadness of grief, time moves – and it does so, relentlessly.
Meanwhile, the lights still work. The television goes on and the news keeps reporting. The traffic on the freeway is still as it was before the clock struck at the top of the hour. Business will open and close at the same time each day. Loss or no loss, whether we gain or go backwards, time is an unrelenting machine which keeps moving one second at a time.
Look around. Look at all that has gone on in the last several months. Listen to the news reports. Listen to the rhetoric and the aggression that spews back and forth. Listen to the different versions of hate speech and then listen to all the blaming that goes back and forth.
“It’s this one’s fault.”
“No, it’s that one’s fault.”
“He didn’t vote the same as me.”
We are a country with pronoun trouble. We use words like they and them to define groups as if to separate or should I say segregate them.
Look at the rise in hate crimes. This is not a racial debate; however, facts are still facts and unfortunately, we do not live in a system where the news reports happy or positive things. No, we live in a society where media thrives on controversy to build ratings.
Plus, look at the surge in deaths that have been linked to mental health disorders. Look and see that with all of our losses and with all of the tragic news, time has not stopped once. With all the warning labels we read and with all the information we hear, people still die from avoidable deaths.
We have seen losses and fights in the streets. I have listened to the pot call the kettle black and then watched the argument go back and forth.
We have seen violence. We have changed our connections and our ability to gather. We have all been kept distant and shut down as a result of a virus that has spread worldwide.
This is not natural by any means. No, this is something out of a sci-fi thriller, but yet no. This is real life. This is our life, right here and right now, happening at real time. This is all happening before our very eyes. All of what we’ve seen in the past months has defied our natural way of living.
We are not built to live this way nor have we been trained to live this way. In fact, we are living quite oppositely from how we’ve been trained and raised to live.
And what does this mean?
It’s not like we can look around and say, “Hey, wait a minute.”
Even if we did, the clock is still moving and life is still life.
There is no wait a minute.
We still have a race to run.
There needs to be an understanding about PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is more than what we hear about. This is more than something that happens to people in combat or in emergency services.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition of persistent and emotional stress that comes from severe psychological shock. This is from a disturbance of any kind that defies our natural and moral concepts. This is the unresolved tension of something traumatic that happens to us. And guess what; this happens to everyone. It just happens on different levels.
Understand that unwanted memories and the unwanted visions we see in our recollections can lead to the end-result of emotion that links to a chain reaction of emotion. Herein lies the dilemma.
How many times have you seen something or heard something; or wait, how many times have you been hurt by someone and although you try, you find yourself saying, “I just can’t get this out of my head?”
You say this because the occurrence itself was something absolutely unbelievable.
How many times have you re-lived an old argument in your mind and found yourself feeling the same tensions you felt when you had the original argument? How many times have your thoughts carried you away or taken you down the rabbit hole of resentment or regret. In the end, what was the aftermath? Where was your metal fitness?
This is not mentioned to diminish the severity of other traumas or cases with PTSD. Instead, this is to understand that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can range in different intensities.
Any time we find ourselves litigating old thoughts and old memories, we are trying to find a way to make sense of something that has been left unresolved. This means we have a feeling or concern; and to honor this, we try to recreate the past and solve the dilemmas that our past has left behind. This is also some of the mental and emotional roadblocks that prevent us from reaching our best possible potential.
Couple this with normal life. Couple this with the fact that anxiety and depression is common and yet, more than 50% of people that struggle with this will not reach out for help because of the stigmas attached to mental health challenges.
Couple this with the fact that aside from the clinical forms of anxiety, stress disorders, and depression, there are the situational forms that occur with the same symptoms. And who wants to reach out about them? Unfortunately, most will struggle alone or in silence out of fear of vulnerability or perhaps that they will be seen as imperfect or less-than.
It is in fact very difficult to navigate through loss. It is hard to see cruelty. It is hard to watch a loved one suffer and feel helpless. Abuse is painfully real. So is bullying for that matter; and anyone that believes bullying stops on the playground in school is sadly mistaken.
Moreover, it would be easier to understand Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a moral injury. This is when we are hurt beyond our physical nature to a point which defies our moral compass as well as threatens our understanding of personal safety. This is all we want; to feel safe, to be okay, to not worry, but hey; life is life, right?
I remember when The Old Man passed away. I can remember the next morning. My Mother told me about the way she looked out the window. She said she couldn’t believe it.
She told me the traffic lights still worked. Cars were still on the street and life was still moving. She told me, “How could this happen?” She said, “I just lost the love of my life and the world just keeps going on. How could this be?” To my Mother, this was painfully cruel.
More than just the loss is the cruelty of the fact that time is relentless and unmerciful. Mom just wanted another minute with my Father but time kept moving. Time kept ticking and therefore, the option to have another minute with my Father was no longer available.
In my Mother’s case, she was never able to move beyond her loss. She lived in a perpetual state of mourning. Mom was never able to resolve or understand the loss she felt. This was her trauma and this is how she lived for the rest of her life.
The mind is a delicate thing.
Here’s an example: I took an invite with a friend to go to a rifle range. In fairness, I never fired a high-powered rifle before. I had no idea what to expect.
I was never taught how to shoulder the rifle properly nor had I ever experienced the kick-back after squeezing the trigger on something like this.
I was given a crash course and told what to do. I was told how to position myself. I was told how to look through the scope and how to breathe. I was confident that I did what I was told and followed the directions to the best of my ability.
When I pulled the trigger, the scope at the top of the rifle kicked back and bashed me in the face. I can tell you that yes, this hurt. This hurt a lot and yes, this left a mark!
I can tell you that I was taught a different level of respect for the firearm. I understood what I did wrong. I learned how to shoulder a rifle properly. I learned how to keep mishaps like this from happening again. But yet, each and every time I went to squeeze the trigger, I found myself tensing up and clenching, or almost flinching in anticipation that an old mishap will happen again.
Life can be this way too.
The mind only wants comfort and safety. It does not want any pain or discomfort. This also comes from years of evolution and hunter/gatherer, survival instincts.
Anything that threatens our personal safety or protection causes us to flinch or defend ourselves; and sometimes, we take this preemptively. Sometimes we expect the worst. Sometimes we find ourselves in the anticipation of pain or grief and sometimes the anticipation is nearly worse than the pain or grief itself. Hence the roadblocks that create the deception of perception and prevent us from freely being at our personal best.
On a personal note, admittedly, I am someone that has lived through different stresses. I have seen things that were hurtful to me. I have lived through traumas that have defied my moral compass that range from abuse to violence, betrayal, humiliation, personal defeat, loss, and loss of friendships, relationships, and loss of family.
Like countless others in this world, I have seen things that were hurtful to me. And like the kickback from the rifle when the scope hit me in the face; these things left marks that range beyond the physical understanding. These things defied the natural order of what I was taught life is supposed to be like. The violation of boundaries were crossed and as such, the boundary cannot be uncrossed or undone.
The truth is not everyone holds hands when they go to cross the street. Bad things do happen to good people. Life will be life and the people we love will not always be there when we want them to be. And sadly, loved ones die. Crime is real, and no, not everyone lives happily ever after.
I have spoken with people at great lengths that had to endure the loss of their loved ones from home because they could not visit them in the hospital. The punishing thought of a loved one dying alone is again, something that defies our moral ideas of how life is supposed to be. These are the times we are living in.
We are in the middle of something that no one has ever experienced before. We are so new to this vaccine that we do not know how well the vaccine will work against Covid-19 or other strains.
People are frightened. People are separated from their families and loved ones.
Fortunately, we have technology to thank for linking us together with face-time and other apps that allow us to see one another when we talk online. But nothing in the world can ever replace or duplicate the healing warmth of the human touch.
It is important to notice this. It is crucial that we protect our mental fitness and find comfortable ways to replace our concerns with viable options and comforting strategies because as it stands now, we are facing a different pandemic known as worldwide PTSD.
The only answer to this is unity and cohesion. The only problem is too many people have too many opinions. Too many people out there are asking “Who will pay for this?”
“Who wants to deal with this?”
Hopefully someone takes the job because the truth is; unless we work together, this whole thing is only going to get worse.