We’ve all heard about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but have you heard of Posttraumatic Growth? Many of us with IBD or an ostomy have experienced this, even if we aren’t familiar with the term. It happens when a life-changing event causes a positive change in someone’s life. More specifically, it’s when something that would be considered traumatic happens in our lives, and our perspective on life changes for the better: We grow as people.
I know so many people with IBD who have experienced this, with some go as far as saying that IBD is one of the best things to happen to them because it caused such a dramatic change in their attitude and they feel as they are now able to live with intention.
Posttraumatic Growth did not happen for me through IBD, but I can say with great confidence that it was something that came about after having my ostomy. Where so many people feel defeated, believing that surgery is considered failure, others have developed a new appreciation for life. I witness this every day when I read some of my favorite blogs or watch vlog updates from some pretty amazing ostomates. I notice Posttraumatic Growth quite often in cancer survivors too, and really love seeing the positive lifestyle changes these people have made in their lives because of this growth.
Unfortunately, not everyone experiences this growth, and some develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which can devastate their lives further after a life-changing event. While there is research going into finding ways to trigger this personal growth, learning how to cope with and adapt to illness is usually the best place to start. Becoming empowered and an active participant in your treatment, or by offering and receiving emotional support can also improve the chances of PTG.
As I realize that my current state of health is temporary (as is often the case with Crohn’s Disease), so I try to live each day taking nothing for granted. Finding the good things in life (and yes, it’s possible even in the worst flares) can make an incredible difference to our emotional outcome.
QUESTION: Have you experienced Posttraumatic Growth?