Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can squash even the most social butterfly. It's a disorder that urges you to push away the people around you. When you live with PTSD, no one seems to understand what you're going through. Flashbacks and traumatic episodes triggered without a moment's notice, making intimacy a vulnerability. It's often easier to push people away than to explain the complexity and unpredictability of your feelings.
And when your life becomes devoid of the human element, it's tempting to fill the void with things to facilitate your healing.
Enter gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins. Contrary to how it's depicted in popular culture, gluttony isn't just about food. It's overindulgence and overconsumption. When you're gluttonous, things become a substitute for your relationships, goals, ambitions and other intangibles. Quantity helps you forget about the lack of quality.
In today's culture, capitalism drives our consumption machine. It's all instant gratification, all the time -- and that's when everything else in our life is smooth sailing. When a condition as complex and unnerving as PTSD enters the equation, it makes an overly abundant vice like overconsumption even more tempting. We're lacking meaningful personal relationships, so something has to fill that void. And for too many of our Warriors, overconsumption becomes the coping mechanism of choice. Instead of confronting our issues, we hide behind our consumption, which makes us feel pretty good -- in the moment, at least. You can probably tell this isn't a healthy healing cycle.
When you find yourself compensating for the human element with material things (shoes, cars, houses, you name it) or substances (fast food, sugar, alcohol or drugs), it's time to muster a little extra temperance to help you find your authentic well-being and true wellness after war.
Of the seven virtues, temperance is best equipped to strip away our protective layer of gluttony. So what is temperance, anyway? It's the state of practicing restraint and self-control. This virtue is all about self-mastery, being mindful of ourselves and others, and making just decisions.
When we're suffering with PTSD, it's not always easy to think of things in moderation. After all, this condition makes our emotions seem uncontrollable and rampant. But shifting our minds into temperance mode is a struggle well worth the payoff. Temperance forces us to be mindful of the true issues we're facing. Think of it as getting intimate with yourself: once you find your inner temperance, the shield of gluttony that's been hiding your issues gets stripped away, and all you're left with is your true self. You can't have a quality relationship with others if you don't have an honest relationship with yourself -- and your PTSD -- first. This relationship is one of the most important steps to transforming Post-Traumatic Stress into Post-Traumatic Growth. With a renewed connection with yourself, you can flourish in this new post-war normal we call life so that you're thriving, not simply surviving.