Comparing Ourselves to Others

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
I was reminded again in here that there is a fundamental difference between the reasonably well-adjusted adult who develops PTSD and the traumatized child who walks out into the world with an abnormally formed brain, finds coping a struggle and meets up with more trauma often in the form of abuse, broken relationships and other things that upbringing might have prevented or guarded this person from.

Those of us who have been on the PTSD pony for a while have no doubt seen evidence of the differences. Nevertheless, it is easy to lump ourselves and each other into a generalized box, expecting the same sort of recovery ride as the next person with a trauma related disorder.

In my own recovery I am felt a lot of disappointment in myself because other people were recovering completely around me and I worked hard for decades but could not pull that off. But my trauma started very early and didn't stop for a long time.

I also feel like there is a lot of fear among people who have a good chance at a full recovery because frankly, people like me make PTSD look like a life sentence and bring other disorders to the table that maybe even make it look worse than it is.

I feel like PTSD statistics are often confusing because we do all get thrown in the same box. You wouldn't read up on bone cancer with a spot of skin cancer on your nose or vice versa. It would be very hard to understand what you might expect if you did.

What I am getting at is that while it is great that we can focus on our similarities and be supportive of one another, we should be careful about thinking we are on the same sort of road as the next person --- this shit has major variables. Comparing ourselves with those around us can cause depression and anxiety.

Has anyone else been confused, depressed, anxious or disappointed because of statistics, seeing people recover or not recover, because your symptoms seem to be worse than the next person's?

What is your best defense against letting other people's recovery cause you to judge your own? -- I still do it from time to time, so I would love to know.
 

Sadielady3

Confident
Your post really speaks to me because it's something that I struggle with too. I'm just at the beginning of my journey with trauma- been in denial and repressed a lot of memories. Then, something happened and my glass dome holding back the shadows shattered. I consciously knew some of these events but never thought about them and would avoid topics about my childhood. Denial was a comfortable place to live.

When I read about other people's struggles and journey, it's amazing how compassionate I am towards them. I can look at them and think that they're really courageous or strong for combating the things that they combat. I don't feel like a decade is a long time if that's what it takes them. Healing happens in its own time.

And then I look at myself. Of course I know the childhood abuse wasn't my fault. I can look around at the good life I've built and know that I have many really good things in my life. So why I am so stuck on my childhood? Why am I now having nightmares about things that happened over three decades ago? Why am I so pathetic that I'm drowning in shame, disgust with myself, fear, and grief when I have a good life now? Those things are over. Why am I not over them?

We all walk our own path. I really, really, really need to find some sort of patience, love, or understanding for myself. I have little to none. I generally feel like a failure at all times. I don't have a good defense against comparing myself to others but I think maybe it starts with understanding why I value myself so little and others so much more.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
maybe it starts with understanding why I value myself so little and others so much more.

That sounds like a great place to start to me. I also tend to give other people a lot more patience than I seem to be capable of giving myself.

Those things are over. Why am I not over them?

I have recently started EMDR and I think I understand why. The way it was explained to me was that basically traumatic memories get caught in one place (what place I don't remember) in the brain, whereas normal memories get processed by both sides of the brain. The idea behind EMDR is to bring the depths of those traumatic memories up while listening to sounds that alternate from one ear to the other or images that make the eyes move back and forth or both, in order to engage both sides of the brain and help the memory to get processed like a regular memory. I used to think it was purely emotional, like a nostalgic unconscious decision I was making but as I am processing through some things, I feel a lot less that way.

I hope we both learn to have more patience and compassion with ourselves.
 

Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
I have been in and out of therapy for close to an half of century with full intentions of healing and dislodging the uninvited guest of Complex PTSD. Yet life is not an continuous bubble of safe events and additional ongoing trauma often has plugged into my pathways. Long and short... I am a lifer.

Until the recent progression within science accompanied by support systems (such as this board and Mental Health Fields) allowing neurological as well as cognitive understanding- I held much undue shame. Now I often just hold frustration similar to a wet cat with unexpected onset of symptoms. I do not always win the brass ring of sanity as quick as I might like, but I climb back near there in time.

I have seen excerpts from guests chastising members whom still were on the board after a time. People heal differently, some completely. I have felt happy for them among my wistful envy. I start my gratitude list immediately to compensate while moving forward to keep healing competition out of the equation.

Everyone has an Achilles’ heel- that is why we are stronger together learning what we can from each other and leaving the rest of the information behind that we might not need. It is a Godsend to even be able to read another’s PTSD viewpoint while nodding and exclaiming,”Me too!” For me, it is a feeling of not facing the path alone.
 

Rani G

MyPTSD Pro
@
What is your best defense against letting other people's recovery cause you to judge your own?
RussellSue, this is no definite answer to your question, only a very subjective vague notion of what I felt while reading your words. At some point, some of the the yardsticks I carried around labeled as: How well have I adapted myself to my immediate social environment? Have I suffered enough to justify this behavior/behaviors of mine? Had to be destroyed. It’s almost as if I have had no choice but burn them during these years of therapy.

Being born to a mother that was beaten almost everyday during her pregnancy, the alcoholic man who threatened to kill her almost everyday for 3-4 years. Finally running away to places in order to find a refuge to live as a divorced woman in Sri Lanka during the 1980s (While dealing with civil war) was seen as a sin. Then she was asked to give her child away to a home, which she luckily didn’t, finally she met a mentally ill man who did convince her to leave me at places where I was sexually abused by 2 men, and was then sent to boarding schools (Also with nuns) in order to be toughened up and disciplined. I was moved to many places as a child, travelling and then again experiencing situations with caregivers like kneeling down for hours without movement, or waiting in a basement in order to be punished.

So when processing this history I had no choice, I had to define my own measuring tape.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
Long and short... I am a lifer.
I asked my EMDR therapist the other day what my chances were of making a "full" recovery. I can't remember his exact words but he said that my chances were next to nothing -- too much developmental trauma and no chance to develop normally, besides. He did say that he felt that I was closing in on reaching a point where I would feel like I had a "good life" which was nice but the rest was hard to hear.

All of this happened after having my last three symptom inventories come back being free of PTSD over the last two years. I think I was expecting that if I didn't have enough active symptoms of PTSD to have an active PTSD diagnosis, I ought to be recovering, right? My understanding now is that I am BUT you can't rehabilitate a bush into a tree. It's a bush. I'm a grown woman with a facial deformity who was brought up to be terrified and suspicious of the outside world who also couldn't rely on or trust her own people. I'm not a grown woman who grew up in a stable and nurturing environment -- I can't be that because of trauma and just because I didn't have that experience. I may or may not have a personality disorder (I do have GAD) but I'm a hard case to figure out because my experience lies outside of the standards that are normally being worked from. I've read about the experience of being a female with a serious cleft lip but not about what happens when child abuse and abandonment happen, too. I have trauma -- lots of it, whether I currently calculate up to a person with PTSD or not. Though, I kinda wonder if I'd score differently just out of the supermarket.


Until the recent progression within science accompanied by support systems (such as this board and Mental Health Fields) allowing neurological as well as cognitive understanding- I held much undue shame.

I still do. I spent too long living in rural America where science and wild shit like advocacy and awareness didn't get to. I was working on this in Portland by getting out and talking to people but the covid has really got me isolated, at this point.

It is a Godsend to even be able to read another’s PTSD viewpoint while nodding and exclaiming,”Me too!” For me, it is a feeling of not facing the path alone.

I agree. I hope it didn't sound like I was being negative about the support here. I wasn't meaning to be. But sometimes I do feel like I am back in an AA meeting trying to remind myself that just because that guy got up and got a job at the local treatment center doesn't mean I can and that me not being able to doesn't mean I am failing.

I have worked my ass off. I started seeing my school counselor when I was 10 and I've been in some sort of treatment almost the entire time since but I am not as functional as I wish I were by a long shot. I'm 40 now and at times it just feels like I am not getting out nearly as much as I have put in and that's frustrating.

Granted, I am in a funky mood now that the high energy of fleeing Portland in late July, then fleeing another part of NM, then that last move from Santa Fe to here just over 2 weeks ago has finally splattered... I'm mentally exhausted and trying to figure out my next thing while trying to be honest about where I am in my recovery without the bullshit that is me pretending I've got this shit because, after all, why wouldn't I?

Thanks for your support. I am sorry for the very lengthy response. I'm really uncomfortable and uncertain about my direction at the moment.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
So when processing this history I had no choice, I had to define my own measuring tape.

Thank you for your insight. I am sorry for what you have gone through.

I do not know why but regardless of the severity of the ongoing trauma I have had, I have never been able to really change the expectations I have for myself. I should as I have consistently not met them and failing to adjust has led to a lot of disappointment.
 

Sadielady3

Confident
I do not know why but regardless of the severity of the ongoing trauma I have had, I have never been able to really change the expectations I have for myself. I should as I have consistently not met them and failing to adjust has led to a lot of disappointment.
I do think that childhood trauma creates a sense of perfectionism in some of us. I know for me, I strive to be truly perfect. I think it's because I thought I could earn my mother's love by being this high achiever. For me, I was an excellent student, won awards, and always excelled at everything I put my mind to. So when I try to tackle these issues that, if I can ever really recover from, take years and have set backs, are in no way easy, I get down and impatient.
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
I do think that childhood trauma creates a sense of perfectionism in some of us. I know for me, I strive to be truly perfect. I think it's because I thought I could earn my mother's love by being this high achiever. For me, I was an excellent student, won awards, and always excelled at everything I put my mind to. So when I try to tackle these issues that, if I can ever really recover from, take years and have set backs, are in no way easy, I get down and impatient.

I was also a big time overachiever. My grades were all I had that I could feel good about. My family didn't care but I got positive attention from my teachers. I did great in school and in college and in grad school and I am certain that having the mindset that I can figure hard things out does contribute to my aggravation with not making the progress I want to in life. Thank you for that reminder. I forget that I am like that sometimes.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I was reminded again in here that there is a fundamental difference between the reasonably well-adjusted adult who develops PTSD and the traumatized child who walks out into the world with an abnormally formed brain, finds coping a struggle and meets up with more trauma often in the form of abuse, broken relationships and other things that upbringing might have prevented or guarded this person from.

Those of us who have been on the PTSD pony for a while have no doubt seen evidence of the differences. Nevertheless, it is easy to lump ourselves and each other into a generalized box, expecting the same sort of recovery ride as the next person with a trauma related disorder.

In my own recovery I am felt a lot of disappointment in myself because other people were recovering completely around me and I worked hard for decades but could not pull that off. But my trauma started very early and didn't stop for a long time.

I also feel like there is a lot of fear among people who have a good chance at a full recovery because frankly, people like me make PTSD look like a life sentence and bring other disorders to the table that maybe even make it look worse than it is.

I feel like PTSD statistics are often confusing because we do all get thrown in the same box. You wouldn't read up on bone cancer with a spot of skin cancer on your nose or vice versa. It would be very hard to understand what you might expect if you did.

What I am getting at is that while it is great that we can focus on our similarities and be supportive of one another, we should be careful about thinking we are on the same sort of road as the next person --- this shit has major variables. Comparing ourselves with those around us can cause depression and anxiety.

Has anyone else been confused, depressed, anxious or disappointed because of statistics, seeing people recover or not recover, because your symptoms seem to be worse than the next person's?

What is your best defense against letting other people's recovery cause you to judge your own? -- I still do it from time to time, so I would love to know.
I have chronic neurological issues, TBI, C-PTSD.....oh, and I'm getting in the moderately fat range-another co-moribity. In the past, I've been told I'd lose my hearing totally from a sensoneural hearing loss and needed to take up ASL..(No one I know knows ASL).......told this by a neurologist...so I stopped playing my instrument and started taking up hobbies that didn't require hearing. I cried for weeks.....morning a loss that hadn't occurred. What a waste of time, I think now. I changed meds...and I spent a year doing lip reading training (a good idea I came up with) and my hearing loss stopped the dramatic decline haulted when I went off the meds. I had been told 5 years to a cochlear implant. Oh, why didn't a neurologist make the connection between meds and hearing loss years earlier?

When I came to trauma therapy, I was told I was predementia by a psychiatrist who I thought was an odd woman herself....and because I've been on cognitive meds all my life, lots of low vitamin levels, and have multiple TBIs....I'm at higher risk for dementia.....so I believed that psychiatrist....as she handed me a prescription with 3 refills for narcotics to take the edge off my very intermittent anxiety and ordered a CAT scan. I was not predementia according to the CAT scan (whew-dogded that bullet) and I still have a whole bunch of Lorazapam.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is since there were "professionals" who told me these things I realized they can't predict the future any better than I can. Statistics are just a set of numbers to gauge a trend. If I believed every statistic I saw would be "me", I'd be crazy, depressed, and worrying about all kinds of things (projecting-reading my crystal ball) that might not happen. So here's my advice: Stop comparing yourself to your online PTSD neighbors, take what advice you like, and leave the rest. The truth....none of us have walked the exact same path in life and how PTSD plays out for each of us is unique. You shouldn't feel compelled to compare yourself to another because it isn't a fair comparison.......there is no baseline with which to compare each of us to. We all walk a different path.....and if you don't like advice you get.....just ignore it. I think that is wasted energy....personally.
 

Recovery4Me

MyPTSD Pro
I recently deleted a lot of social media networks which included long time retired colleagues. I found myself noticing their signs of substance abuse progression during this isolation or lockdown period due to COVID and essential job flux. The deterioration of some of the sharpest minds that I have met was bringing me to my knees emotionally. That is another example of my wandering comparisons, struggling to not enable, do the right thing of speaking of self struggles in that area (indirect invite to listen if they need it) and then walking on my side of the street.

For me it is challenging to rest within needed discernment while balancing the reins of comparison. It has been the subject of countless discussions during theology as well as every discipline I have encountered. Much of science even requires it for control groups. I even have found comparisons necessary for decisions at times- such as when I fought for equal pay.

So perhaps, “comparisons to others” is an trickle down effect for survival, or encoded among our DNA. Does anyone know? I haven’t explored the latest research however this thread has opened some new doors. Thanks!

*ps... does not mean we have to act on it.🤔
 
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