PTSD Spirituality: Orange Armadillos PTSD Triggers and Hope

Snow Leopards Are Wonderful.Caution: This essay references Orange Armadillos.

PTSD can be devastating, confusing, and deadly. If we don’t recognize it, we are more vulnerable to its vicious goals to alienate, isolate, and harm us. If we are one of the fortunate ones, we recognize it and can name it. This is an important first step to gaining hope for our future and dispelling despair. In Hope is Life.

PTSD Feeds Itself in the Present Moment

PTSD feeds off of confusion, anger, and despair from both our past and also from our present. The initial trauma, whether singular or plural, is bad enough. Later on, assuming we survived, PTSD will metabolize current events, whether they are traumatic to us personally or not, and endeavor to amplify itself and its control over us.  If we are presently dealing with Dickweeds and Vampires our PTSD can even get worse.

If for some reason we are angry or confused about something, PTSD will seize upon that to strengthen its grip and try to force us into despair.

The triggering anger or confusion does not even have to be directly connected to our original PTSD-inducing trauma.

The suffering of others, whether happening to us in real-time in our current moment, or depicted in a film or some other medium, fiction or non-fiction, can serve as triggers to activate and amplify our PTSD (For more on PTSD Triggers).

In Discovery Lies Hope and Vibrancy

Part of our healing journey involves finding out what our triggers are and our relative sensitivity to them at any given moment. If as you learn more about your PTSD and discover that orange armadillos – for whatever reason – trigger you, then you’ve achieved something. That knowledge, that realization, is part of your ongoing victory over PTSD and regaining your own self. Making that discovery is actually a hopeful (albeit, perhaps, painful) development.

As we progress and regain more of ourselves, we will discover that some days we are not as susceptible to the PTSD triggering influences of orange armadillos. Some days I am more soul-wounded than other days and I will know that I need to steer clear of orange armadillos: Plain and simple, no question, just not the right day to cavort with orange armadillos.

Other days I may find I could even try to juggle orange armadillos and not have to worry about triggering my PTSD.

Trigger-Sensitivity is a Useful Barometer for Us

As time goes on and I learn more about what my PTSD is trying to do to me I become more fully attuned to my relative vulnerabilities.

Indeed, as I come to understand my susceptibility to various triggers I am better armored against PTSD’s desire to alienate, isolate, and harm me.

This knowledge can serve as a “barometer” for me that helps me gauge my relative trigger-vulnerability and whether or not I should rethink some activity I am considering. If my orange armadillo trigger indicator is flashing bright orange, then it is probably not a good day to try and make a major push against my boundaries.

If, on the other hand, I am doing somewhere between “okay” and “well” in regards to orange armadillos, then I know my PTSD has less control over me and I might stretch myself a bit and take on something I have not done for a while or have been too wounded to try at all. This stretching can be a bit scary and sometimes it is painful, but if (and when) I pull it off; I have successfully pushed back the Darkness and have entered more into the Light.

Is this stretching easy? Of course not! If it were easy, I wouldn’t be going through the physical pain of typing this and you would not have bothered to Google words like “PTSD,” “Armadillo,” “Triggers,” “Orange,” or “Hope.”

But the stretching of our boundaries so we can go outside, talk to other people, share a vulnerability or anxiety with someone who cares about us, avoid self-medicating, etc., is a victory, a further step into Life’s Light out of PTSD’s Darkness. Yes, it sometimes hurts, but it can be therapeutic and healing. Perhaps, even more so, it can produce a more vibrant life for us … and PTSD does not want us to have a vibrant life.

By pushing against the constricting boundaries that PTSD wants to smother us with we discover that we can more easily breathe in more life. Early in this stretching endeavor we may notice the air might not be not as fresh and as clean as we would prefer, but we do discover that there is indeed air to breathe. If we continue to stretch our boundaries, the toxicity of the air will diminish and the air will taste cleaner and become more life sustaining.

Pushing against PTSD’s strictures and breaking out of the isolation and alienation (even if only for a little while) confirms Hope.

If I can get out of the house for 10 minutes, then it is a realistic hope that one day I will be able to be out of the house for an hour. If I can have a brief conversation with a coffee-jockey at a coffee shop while my order is prepped, then I have a realistic hope that at some point I will be able to have deeper, meaningful conversations with another person and not have to self-isolate so much (PTSD loves self-isolation … makes it easier to kill us).

Even a Bad Day Can Offer Hope

Even a bad day can be a sort of indicator of hope (because sometimes a coffee shop may have a dickweed lurking there who wants to be a pest). If herds of orange armadillos are swarming my street, I have a realistic hope, indeed an experienced knowledge, that on another day I will not be as triggered by them. I will discover that at times I can be outside on the same street as an orange armadillo … and that is more hopeful than never being able to walk on a street at all because I might meet an orange armadillo.

I may not cuddle it that day… after all, take things a step at a time … but I know one day, if I decide to do so (and part of the PTSD healing journey is making our own decisions for ourselves and our own well-being and not only in two-dimensional reactions to a PTSD trigger) I could end up one day even petting an orange armadillo.

The first couple of times I pet an orange armadillo I will probably be dry mouthed, tight-bowelled (is that a word?!), and a bit fearful. After all, proximity and/or touching it is a big stretch if an orange armadillo is one of your triggers. But over time, as I stretch and seize more of myself out of the PTSD Darkness I will find myself more and more in the Light … and, in Light is Life.

Over time, I will make the big decisions in my life about orange armadillos. The decisions will not be made by PTSD and fear and anxiety. Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll have my own passel of orange armadillos and even sign up for a how-to juggle class … Yikes!

As always, you have value (and so do orange armadillos!).

Semper Pax, Dr. Z

Disclosure: No Orange Armadillos Were Harmed (or Juggled) in the Making of this Essay.

Comments

  1. Ann Rice Barrentine says:

    P.S. So the art work above is yours?? Wonderful!!!!!

    • Hi Ann,
      Yes, I’m the one who did the artwork of the various snow leopards, birds, soldiers, etc. The photos of the tree, sword, ship in the fog, etc., are not mine (although I wish I could take those kinds of pictures (my photos are more along the line of toy dinosaurs, feathers, and hotdogs).
      I used to oil paint but I can’t reliably lift and hold the brushes anymore. With luck, I’ll get back to painting one day. That all said, I love drawing. I’ve got a thing for snow leopards, so almost all of my drawings end up centering on them.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  2. Ann Barrentine says:

    Appreciate all of this Dr Z! 💕

  3. I feel I just spent the past hour “visiting” with you, Dr. Z, and I’m still smiling. I feel so out of the loop as far as what I read about in your life. I’m so sorry to hear of your mother. I hope soon more smiles replace the tears.

    Thank you, too, for writing and sharing for in doing so you help so many. I can tell you that Facebook is not the treasure trove of (good) PTSD support groups. (I showed one admin her information was incorrect, and she said it didn’t matter ’cause it supported her point. I think it was at this point I began to slowly rap my head against the wall.) 🙂

    Before I forget, I had a cervical nerve ablation done a month or so ago. I am now able to stand, function and more! It’s amazing! It took two years before someone mentioned it to me, so I am mentioning it to you asap. 🙂

    Quick update: After a year of biweekly unilateral ECT, I agreed to start bilateral about 6 weeks ago. Going to have more autobiographical memory loss, but it has an 81% success rate for MDD,

    I ventured out with friends in from New York yesterday! Had to use an Ativan and some medical MJ, but I made it.

    John, please keep trying. Your light still shines very brightly.

    Big hug,

    Harry

    • Hey Harry!
      Always and Always a delight to hear from you! And, delighted your own med adventures seem to be paying off (and not just paying out!)
      It’s wonderful you were able to get out with your New York friend. Sometimes venturing out can be quite the challenge, but usually it’s always worth it to some degree.
      I continue to hang in there, sometimes by one hand, sometimes by two.
      You are certainly braver than I am if you are out in the Wilds of Facebook! My Russian is not good enough to venture out there.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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