Recently, I left my phone in our car on a hot summer day. When I returned an hour later the phone had shut off and would not turn on. Only when the phone had cooled down would it restart. That’s because the manufacturer of the phone had made it to function within specific temperature limits. Clearly the temperature in the car exceeded that limit.
Like my phone, each of us has limits. Within those limits we live our lives. We build relationships. We pursue careers and goals. Within those limits we are healthy of mind, body, and soul.
Life however is never smooth. We are often placed in situations that are beyond our limits. Most of the time we cope as best we can and then recover much like my phone did. There are events however that go so far beyond our limits that the return to ourselves is impossible. Whatever we’ve gone through has stressed our limits so much that our health and relationship with life is so damaged that there is no world to go back to.
This is the essence of traumatic injury.
Since each of us has our own limits what is traumatic for one person may be mildly annoying to another. The event itself is only part of the story of trauma; the biggest part is who we are when we were exposed to the event. No matter what the trauma is we become lost, confused, and obsessed with what has happened to us. We are in a near constant state of stress; our sleep is disturbed, our nerves are shot, our bodies ill at ease. Our relationships are affected because we are so preoccupied with the shattering of our world.
This is the essence of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The good news is that people do recover from PTSD. They rebuild their lives, They find happiness and health. This comes through the work of trauma recovery which includes learning skills to calm the soul and body and to reestablish positive relationships.
That’s where the skills of DBT comes in.