Recently I received a piece of feedback that produced food for thought. A veteran commented that professionals have been telling him for years to try to go out in public, but when he does, he is quickly overwhelmed.
“…it’s like being asked to jump into the deep end of the pool without properly knowing how to swim.”
He emphasized the importance of teaching people with PTSD to swim before asking them to take up high diving.
I couldn’t agree more.
There’s a common saying “go hard or go home”. In the case of recovery from Operational Stress Injuries, this is a terrible strategy. The trick is to go forward slowly, with self-compassion.
I remember a yoga teacher once said to me “find the edge, and lean into it”.
“What’s the edge?” I asked.
“It’s that point where you are no longer comfortable, but not so far as to cause injury.” My instructor explained. The edge can even change while you are doing the exercise, so it is important to adjust. The truth is I have been doing yoga for a number of years, and I am still as stiff as a board. So my “edge” isn’t very far out. I used to be hard on myself about it, looking at how flexible everyone else in the class is while I closely resemble a cardboard cut-out figure.
Now I don’t sweat it so much. I’m just happy I made it there. I dropped out of high intensity yoga, and instead take restorative yoga, which is gentler, and more forgiving. Baby steps… that’s the key.
Only you know where your edge is. For each person it is different. If you haven’t been out in a while, it may be simply stepping on your back porch for 5 minutes and feeling the sunshine on your face. It may be writing a text or email to a single friend. It may simply be showing up for your doctor’s appointment.
So please don’t go off the high diving board. A little toe in the water is fine.