I have spent many posts this month on the insanely negative side effects of PTSD. But I have experienced a few silver linings over the years.
One that I noticed almost immediately is that I am no longer squeamish. Something about seeing my own blood everywhere made me want to fight back, and not only for myself, but for others. I’m choosing to do that by pursuing a career in medicine.
Another upside is that I had to become better at managing anxiety to function. I can’t make it all go away, but I can function in spite of it. I can do calculus and chemistry despite the irrational panic. What benefit is that? Well, I don’t show visible panic about much anymore.
I can publicly speak more eloquently than ever. Nothing is as bad as what I have endured before. So, I don’t get nervous. I just prepare and say a speech like I am talking to a room of friends. I used to rocket through presentations because I was nervous and hate it when I am in the spotlight. But I don’t care anymore and don’t mind when it’s necessary.
I can act under pressure with cool logic. That’s a pretty sweet feature for a rescuer/ wannabe doctor. Adrenaline is just another feeling for me, a frequent one.
And I have a poker face now. I was once an open book. I couldn’t win a card game. I couldn’t be on video with unpleasant people at work, or my face told them I thought they were dumb or rude. I have actually won games that relied on my bluffing skill since my attack and life with PTSD began.
So much of PTSD discussion is how it wrecks a life. I don’t know how to make it go away, but I can tell you that not all change is bad. Being accustomed to adrenaline and anxiety can make you the one leading others when emergencies arise.
Lean into the silver linings.