You know PTSD, right? No, not “Please, Take Some Donuts”—although donuts are an excellent coping mechanism. We’re talking about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The invisible weight many lug around, even after years of therapy and restructuring. It’s like the bad gift that keeps on giving. It’s a disorder that affects all aspects of life, from the seemingly mundane to the wildly chaotic, like running a small business. There’s a stigma surrounding PTSD that we need to break down, and who better to break things than people who’ve survived the unspeakable? So, let’s get to it.
PTSD isn’t a footnote; it’s a whole dang chapter in many of our life stories. People look at me, a business owner, and think, “Wow, she’s got it all together.” And they do this while sober, which is even more shocking. Little do they know, my trauma’s sitting in the backseat, but I’ve strapped it safely with a triple seatbelt, and I’ve learned to be a better driver. Let’s talk about navigating through PTSD without sacrificing your ambition or personal life.
“Functional” is a funny term, and quite relative, I’d say. People slap it on everything: functional clothing, functional furniture, and yes, functional humans. But what does it mean when you’ve got PTSD? I recall a dinner with an acquaintance who nearly jumped out of her skin at the loud crash from the next table’s fallen wine bottle. Me? I barely flinched. While she spent the next hour scanning exits, I was busy scoring free dessert from the embarrassed waiter. Same situation, two different reactions—two different versions of “functional.” Same diagnosis. The difference is in the approach.
Functional is a relative term.
The Power of Resilience
Resilience isn’t just the name of a self-help book gathering dust on your shelf; it’s what keeps us pushing forward even when our past is pulling us back. Imagine resilience as mental calisthenics, a workout for your mind. Like the time my computer crashed the night before a major business pitch. Instead of spiraling into a panic attack, I whipped out my phone, tapped into my resilience, and finished the presentation just in time. That’s turning “fight or flight” into “fight and flourish.”
So, what is resilience? It’s the art of pivoting, of channeling setbacks into setups for comebacks. It’s not just about recovery; it’s about transformation. It’s like being a phoenix but without the fire hazard. Resilience is your emotional Swiss Army knife, packed with coping mechanisms, stress-deflecting shields, and a never-give-up attitude.
Building resilience isn’t a one-and-done affair. It’s an ongoing process, like keeping a garden. You need to water it, nurture it, and give it plenty of sunlight. How? Start with self-awareness. Know your triggers, understand your coping mechanisms, and recognize your limits (self-monitoring data collection is quite helpful for this). Then, bolster that with support systems—people who get you, who don’t want to change you, mentors who guide you, and professionals who can offer tools for your emotional toolkit. Throw in some positive affirmations, healthy coping strategies like exercise or mindfulness, and you’ve got yourself a solid foundation for resilience.
Remember, resilience isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. And just like any long-distance race, there are water stations and cheerleaders along the way—so don’t hesitate to hydrate your soul and high-five your accomplishments. It’s all part of the journey toward becoming not just resilient, but damn near unbreakable.
Childhood Trauma: The Double-Edged Sword
Childhood memories can be a mixed bag. There are those of who had to adapt early on to rough circumstances, and those of us who had to do it more than once. It’s like being thrown into the deep end of the pool as a kid; you either sink, or you learn to swim real quick. Turns out, surviving early trauma can forge you into someone who can handle just about anything. But don’t get it twisted; no one’s saying trauma is beneficial. It’s just that sometimes, the sword that wounds you also sharpens you. Surviving early hardship is both a burden and a bizarre gift.
Silver Linings: Turning Negatives Into Skills
Dealing with symptoms of PTSD for so long has granted me an almost Sherlockian level of awareness. I walk into a room and instantly know the exits, who looks suspicious, and yes, where the free snacks are. What may seem like neurotic vigilance to some is actually an asset in my line of work. In business, this skill helps me read a room during meetings or catch details others may miss.
Awareness isn’t just mindfulness; it’s a survival tool. But let’s talk about the backbone of this survival tool: resilience.
The Heart of the Matter: Building Resilience
Think of resilience as your mental immune system. It’s what helps you get through the flu season of life. It’s not just about recovery; it’s about growing stronger, smarter, and more adept at handling whatever life or business throws at you.
So how do you build resilience? For starters, it involves a combination of introspection and action. Recognize your emotional triggers and learn coping mechanisms. Find a support network—this could be friends, family, or professionals—to guide you through the low points. Keep in mind that building resilience is like building muscle; you have to keep “lifting weights” in the form of challenging life experiences to grow stronger.
Use Your Superpower: Leveraging Resilience in Business
Now, back to my Sherlockian awareness. This isn’t just some quirky characteristic; it’s a skill honed by resilience. The same resilience that allows me to dissect a room also helps me dissect a business problem, approach clients, or manage a team more effectively. It’s the alchemy of taking something born from struggle and making it invaluable in other facets of life, including my business.
So don’t shy away from your struggles; they’re the secret sauce to your resilience and, subsequently, your success. The key is not just to survive but to thrive, by turning your vulnerabilities into strengths through the power of resilience.
Intimacy & Relationships: The Elephant in the Room
Intimacy with PTSD is like trying to dance the tango while juggling flaming torches—challenging, but not impossible. Resilience for me has meant owning up to the awkward stuff—say, the infamous vaginal dryness or a libido that’s gone on an unscheduled vacation. It’s less about killing the mood and more about finding your rhythm amidst life’s complexities. Communication is key. Being open about these unglamorous aspects of intimacy has led to better experiences and less bedroom anxiety. Let’s be real, if I can talk about my PTSD triggers, I can certainly talk about needing a little extra lubrication. No shame, just game.
Intimacy is like handling fine china—delicate and often complicated.
Thriving in Business With PTSD
Your past doesn’t have to dictate your professional future. Running a business is a challenge on its own, but doing so with PTSD? That’s like playing chess in a hurricane. You’re constantly managing triggers alongside invoices and focusing on estimates while dealing with flashbacks, all while ensuring your client assets are safe, and maintaining the reputation you have worked so hard to build. Sounds crazy, but guess what? This is where resilience becomes your most valuable asset.
When you’re accustomed to a hypervigilant state, you tend to notice details others might overlook. This trait has been my secret weapon in my web and small business support services gig. I once had a client labeled as “unmanageable” by my strategic partners, with a side note of: ‘think twice before taking on this one.’ Yet, the skills I developed to navigate my PTSD—reading nuanced behaviors, anticipating needs, staying three steps ahead—turned that “unmanageable” client into one of my most loyal accounts, still today.
But let’s get real: PTSD doesn’t take a day off, but it also does not define my capabilities or my balance sheet. Resilience is more than a buzzword; it’s the lifeblood of my professional journey. It’s the ability to adapt and to transform vulnerabilities into strengths. And the truth? You don’t have to pick between managing your PTSD and running a successful business. With resilience, they can coexist, and you can excel at both.
You’re not merely surviving; you’re thriving, and the bottom line of your business will reflect that too.
In a Nutshell
Living with remnants of PTSD doesn’t mean putting your life on hold. Think of it like navigating through a relentless storm while sailing—you’re not just aimlessly drifting; you’re steering, adapting, and forging a path through the chaos. The weather may be unpredictable, but you can learn to be a damn good sailor.
Here’s the crux: Living a rich, productive, and even flourishing life with PTSD isn’t a distant dream; it’s within reach. The turbulent waters and gusty winds—your triggers and symptoms—don’t have to keep you from your destination. With resilience as your North Star, you can make it to shore and find joy, not just relief, when you get there.
So let’s shake up the prevailing narrative. Having PTSD doesn’t mean you’re broken; it means you’re human with a different set of challenges. Embrace resilience, fuel your ambitions, and don’t let anything—not even PTSD—stop you from writing your own success story. Your life, your rules. Make it exceptional, storm and all.