Emotions 101 - How to be Human

The Labyrinth -- Homewood Health Centre

Home, sweet home: I was discharged from Homewood after successful completion of the Program for Traumatic Stress Recovery (PTSR). Does it mean that I am "fixed” and now rid of PTSD? Of course not: there is no way a two-month treatment will turn me into a new man, erasing 40 years of my life. I am somewhat in better shape than I was before going to Homewood: the reason I decided to undergo the program is because I knew that although I had been mostly functional so far, I felt that I was approaching a breaking point, and that something needed to be done in order to ensure that I would be able to continue on with my life.

And I am glad I did.

Childhood trauma has shaped my brain and my belief system

I have learnt a lot about PTSD and about myself: how childhood trauma has shaped my brain and my belief system and how to this day I am unable to experience emotions properly. This is how I have been all my life and not knowing anything else I just thought it was normal. It is not that I am unable to feel, but I don’t know how to access my emotions, acknowledge them and give myself permission to live through them. I have instead compensated by building an emotional centre at a higher cognitive level, which means that I know what I am supposed to feel under certain circumstances, and to a certain degree I feel my emotions in my head rather than in my heart.

It is hard to believe that I have lived my whole life not knowing this, but now I am starting to accept it and it is one of the areas I will have to work on in order to become a complete human. And it is not going to be easy: I have tried to open myself to my heart, access the emotions buried inside me, and the first few attemps have been overwhelming. I am not used to feeling emotions in this way, and what I found in my heart (as opposed to my head) is confusing and difficult to sort. It sent me into a series of flashbacks and dissociative episodes, and I have thus learnt that I need to pace myself and take things slowly.

I am discovering that there is a whole new world of emotions

It is scary, but it is also exciting: I am discovering that there is a whole new world of emotions, a entire side of myself that I have never allowed myself to access, and this is filling me with cautious optimism and hope regarding the future. If I learn to manage and regulate my emotions, not only will I be able to feel more complete, but also I hope it means that I will cease to have these uncontrollable floods of emotions that happen randomly whenever triggered or overwhelmed.

So basically, this is what PTSR is: learning how flawed I am, how incomplete my emotional development is, and acquiring a set of skills and tools to recognise feelings and what to do with them.

I intend to write a little bit more about the program, for there is very little concrete information on line and I believe it could be useful to people who consider applying for PTSD treatment at Homewood. I haven’t figured out yet how I am going to write about it, but stay tuned, I will definitely publish something soon.