I had come across this term a few days back while watching a positive Psychiatry video on Coursera. I had normally heard the opposite term: Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD). This was something new and unexpected: What good can one get out of the horrors of a terrorist attack or childhood abuse? You can only hope to survive such painful experiences and hopefully try to live normally after that, if at all possible.
But something like unexpected (or rapid) psychological growth is seen in some survivors: they view life, its purpose and relationships in a new and meaningful way. There mental health improves; a kind of emotional maturity comes to them, which otherwise would have come to them much later in life. They start appreciating “small” blessings of day to day life in a deeper way. It makes them more grateful, happy and satisfied with life. What good can you expect out of it?
Post Traumatic Growth is a fact. But it does not happen to everyone or to the same extent. It happens to those who have a supportive friend, counselor or group – access to an atmosphere where they felt genuinely accepted; it happens to those who open up and seek such support, instead of surrendering to their pain, resentment and anger. Here is more on this topic.
Today, I felt sad and wanted to stay in bed. I did not have to go to office, since it was Holi. I watched an old movie: Pinjre ke panchhi (Balraj Sahni, 1958- the year I was born!). But nothing helped. Finally I left home at 4 pm and went for a long walk in tea gardens (pic below). Sky was full of dark clouds but there were no chances of rains. I saw a group of cranes (or egrets?) fly across the dark sky, faintly marked by distant mountains: like my thoughts against a somber emotional background. Sadness comes to us in insidious ways.
As I walked vigorously and listened to an inspiring ted talk on dealing with grief, my mood began to lift and I felt that I must honor Marian, by seeking a meaningful life of service and social participation for myself; May be I should volunteer in some hospice, as I have been planning for sometime, serving the terminally ill. May be, I should go ahead with my bucket list- where conducting many more Communication workshops in north-east of India as well as in the neighboring countries has been in the top priority for quite sometime. And… the list is long!
Yes, it is time, that we look at our grief (whatever the source- stammering or anything!) with new eyes and put it to some creative and productive use. Let us know how you are doing it and your early successes.