We are not simply broken, victims, but on a path

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I've been delving into various threads here and experiencing both recognition, relating to situations even when the surface details might be different, but also finding some aspects alien. I think it's worth commenting about this because it may be that some aspects of PTSD or at least of our condition if we haven't seemed to earn the term aren't actually negative as such.

I'm not happy with noise, even noisy music that people seem to enjoy, or bright lights. My employment options are limited because I couldn't begin to imagine the slightest amount of power or responsibility - it feels absurd, the thought of years and years of putting on an act, of investing will in being a would-be authority in something that doesn't mean anything to me except by paid agreement to perform. Relationships I've retreated from, and the fact that there is so much meaningless, neurotic noise in the average relationship, arguments that are based on nothing but neurosis and game-playing, is why. That noise seems to fuel people and fill lives, though it is also the flip side of divorce and part of domestic abuse.

Many would harshly say that I simply 'can't hack it' as if the way the world is is natural and inevitable. If I start to imagine now being 'trapped' on a desert island, eating berries and fish, reading and re-reading twenty books, sitting thinking, I feel quite happy with that. If I could tunnel to that life from where I am I would. I admire people I read about who've 'gone off grid'. They have won something. I admire people enough who downsize and people who've been famous who walk away from what they 'achieved'. I don't see them as casualties at all.

It's a cliche that could make some over-tolerant, but suffering does teach us, and that's not merely and only slavish, submissive, masochistic thinking. If suffering regular Western life has led me to this frame of mind where I want to 'retreat' that really feels like some kind of privilege to me, something hard-won that I want to defend. When I can't stand in a room where there's loud music, where you have to shout to be heard, I'm not failing to be a fun person - when I walk out of the room I'm protecting a self I've evolved.

I can differentiate between that and something that happened extremely briefly last night, where during one of the pre-sleep judders in bed I had this flash-frame image of someone grabbing me with violent intent. I've been assaulted and fear being manhandled by police - which may happen soon - and this is obviously dysfunctional and rooted in memories of assault, including by my dad and my brother. There's no up side to that and it takes discernment to know the difference.

I don't miss being at the front in a noisy gig surrounded by drunk or stoned people, hundreds of faces of self-involved and often fully narcissistic, abusive people, or humming along to a mentally lost drug addict's self-involved and neurotic lyrics. I once stood in front of a particular very well-known singer, maybe two metres away, who was dead a few months later because of self-indulgence and nihilism. He could 'hack it' up to then, he was fun, he was a face of success. I'm not in good shape but I feel at least lucky there that I'm not so chaotic and blind that that fate could have been mine. The first friend I had as an adult has been dead twenty years. We had diverged a few years before his death because I would to him I was boring, as I began to retreat. He's dead, I'm not. Rock and roll.

This takes a bit of the sting out of being unwell whether PTSD is a fair term for how I am or not. If it was all negative, objectively, that really would be overwhelming. Do you really need to be that overwhelmed and regretful of your situation? I am a failed musician myself, and it once hurt that I had to accept the failure, but if I got into a lift with one multi-millionaire guitarist and someone who covers his songs in a pub, and the lift broke down so that we were chatting for a couple of hours, I wouldn't envy either of them or feel inferior. I sometimes discover things on an instrument, create short passages of music, which are strong, professional-grade, that millionaires chasing material success simply aren't capable of. Maybe you painted something comparable, or maybe you had a thought or a feeling about a friend that had a sparkle of sincerity to it, depth, that a game show host isn't capable of. We got burned by Western life - but should we just want to get back in the saddle, or walk away?

The regular world is a mess of nonsense and vanity. To succeed in it isn't so great. If I've failed in life in the eyes of many and if my condition as a victim of violence and traumatic misconduct is part of why, I do not feel ambivalent regret. We could say I'm consoling myself, with 'lies' and self-deception, but that only sticks if material success in this particular collective psychosis, as I see it, is all there is. Twenty books on an island, fish and berries, seems beautiful to me - if I were offered both at a fork in a road, I'd take the island.


I’d take the island, books and berries too, just maybe not certain creatures that may inhabit the island. It is a noisy world for sure. I was reading this thinking that I have my own island and books here at home. Did that myself and the quiet is found early in the morning and late at night. I’m an avid bird watcher, photographer of such and so I spend a lot of time listening to that noise in my backyard. Most noise is unpleasant and when it gets unpleasant almost all noise becomes nusuance grating on my nervous system noise. Smell is also invasive—wonder what my island would smell like?


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I love birds and squirrels, and it almost feels like they just arrived a few years ago. Two family members started talking about birds around the same time and both are survivors of trauma. I think we recognise these tiny vulnerable things and identify, as well as enjoy their being not-us.

I'm glad you can have the island in your home, and maybe I will too one day in another town. But what has given me my PTSD symptoms is inseparable from my home, because it derives from the actions of authorities - police and local politics. Nowhere will be perfect and free of corruption but I can have a clean slate maybe.


I have a friend with PTSD who lives in the woods with a bunch of animals. And she’s enrolled in online courses which she completes on her phone. We were just talking about how traumatic Western society/culture is to everyone in it, yet the only way to survive alone is making money, which inevitably exploits others and even hurts yourself, depending on what you have to do to make money.

And as sufferers, like you said, it’s rare for us to be in a position of power. I work at a private school because it’s less stressful than a public school, but I make about 1/3 less. Not enough to qualify for state benefits by less than $100 so I’m struggling for basic needs. I am lucky that I could teach at another school if I wanted to. I am lucky that I work at a school I like. I am unlucky to have chosen teaching as a profession as my state has some of the lowest pay for teachers and my city much lower than the rest of the state. My state is one of the ones trying to bankrupt public schools.

The society is sadly hurting a lot of people, maybe due to capitalism? Maybe due to poor leadership? Racism, institutionalized or not, is killing people and sickening them. There’s lots of other forms of social violence approved of by society. It’s hard to talk about because of the overwhelm.


Do you really need to be that overwhelmed and regretful of your situation?
Who is being overwhelmed and regretful? I find that most of the people here are working out their trauma, working on getting better and making new lives for themselves. There are some people in the stage of regretting their loss of previous life, but far, far less than those who are working to heal. I used to be an ER nurse, now I'm a homesteader. I don't see many people, I have quiet, chickens, food and flower gardens, a dog. It is a nice new life. I miss nursing but were I to be able to go back I would miss homesteading.

I don't bother to see myself in terms of success or failure. Why? We all have a different set of circumstances which helps create our reality. It sounds like you are still bothered by not being successful, if you don't agree just ignore. I view success as doing productive work which gives you a sense of fulfillment, such as gardening, and improving yourself so that society improves. It could even be collecting cans for the rebate, or just living and lifting others spirits. I won't make a huge change in society, but I will put my energy out there to include everyone in what would be considered successful.

When I had my breakdown it was all I could do to stay alive. I was hospitalized 14 or 15 different times in 1 1/2 years for attempted suicide. My doctor told me she kept waiting for my death certificate to hit her desk. That was PTSD for me. I have worked my ass off getting better, learning about what I can do and what I can leave behind. I am so much better and I am grateful that I was able to get through. My younger brother didn't make it.

I think I might have gone off on a different tangent from what you meant, if so, I apologize. I just focused on the one statement.


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If people genuinely enjoy 'noise', I think that's fine. The important thing is to be able to be honest about what you enjoy and what you don't, and pursue the life you genuinely want. I think a lot of people feel pressured into living the way other people expect them to and don't even question it. Maybe those of us who have had mental crises and/or therapy have become better at asking ourselves and answering ourselves about what we really feel.
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