“Know me for my abilities, not my disability.” Robert M. Hensel

Since having to leave my career ten years ago to a second disability in my policing career, life has certainly had its’ challenges. Through it all I have continued to educate myself and further my awareness of PTSD and Anxiety disorder. I also strive to improve my personal health in order to maintain chronic pain relating to my back injury and Anxiety disorder. There have been times when it is a struggle and there continues to be times when it is a struggle. We each are dealt unique events in our lives, sometimes a confluence of events or series of circumstances that flow together and cause us to face great challenges in our lives. During this time I have run into people giving me the basic advice of “don’t be your disability”. I took this to mean I should live my live as though I didn’t have a disability, that way it wouldn’t own me. I pushed myself to be the organizer of social events, to get involved in causes I thought were noble and to do for others. Mostly I found this rewarding, helping others has a great spin-off effect for me. It makes me feel good. However there were lots of days I needed support and had nowhere to turn to for that. How could I even ask when I wasn’t “owning my disability”. By that I mean honoring myself and the trauma my body has gone through. “Owning it” in order to allow it to heal. Recognizing the changes that occur in the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the medial frontal cortex of the brain. Those changes are permanent, but self-care can assist one in managing the changes. So if we don’t “own it” we don’t feel worthy of practicing self-care which is crucial to continued well-being. When we try to please others we lose touch with ourselves. I was never open about my issues as it made me feel more vulnerable, but with awareness and education comes healing. We can believe someone who’s walked it and done it, so it’s time I taught others about healing by simply sharing my experience.

There are different pinnacles in our life, different stages of growth and I have had many challenges. Challenges are valuable lessons –often hard to appreciate it while we are in the midst of it. This year I have set my personal goal as “self-care”. At one time I would’ve seen this goal as selfish and through my upbringing I understood myself not to be worthy of such, but through my studies I now understand this to be the most important work that we can do. As one of my favorite teachers, who happens to be a young eighty two years old, said ”the most important thing you can do, is to work on your own shit”. As humans we need to bring balance into our lives and do our personal work. If we work on healing ourselves there is a ripple effect that emanates from us. This flows into the lives of others that we come into contact with, and into the community around us. We can begin by working on our emotional level, strengthening our body through exercise and nutrition and balancing our body, mind and spirit connection. Never compare your journey with others, your journey is a personal one. Look at the personal changes required to make changes in your life to bring balance into your life. By doing your own healing, through a process of investigation and discovery, you can have long term healing and joy.

About the Author: Lynne Rusk was a police officer for nineteen years before her diagnoses of PTSD took over and cost Lynne her career. Today, Lynne advocates, educates and works passionately to eliminate the stigma around PTSD.

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