Is it really possible that some good may have come out of all this craziness? Wouldn’t that be amazing? Now that my family is eighteen months into my middle son’s diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, the world does feel like a different place to me sometimes. I’ve reflected on how we might actually be better people because of what has happened.
There’s no denying that the major trauma is for my son: he has a chronic illness that he will have to manage forever. There are five people in our family and we have all been affected. It’s not all bad!
Every month, I download the latest Oprah magazine. It generally makes me feel better about myself whether it’s through an article about an interesting person, make up tips ( yes, sometimes that’s all I need) or a new recipe. I read an article called ‘Is There an Upside to Tragedy?’ in the July edition of the Oprah magazine.
This set me off to find out more about what I now know is called Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). There’s no denying the crap that goes with the trauma of the diagnosis and ongoing management of Type 1 diabetes. Some days I feel my head is going to explode from dealing with and helping my boy deal with all of it but maybe, just maybe, we are better than before in some ways.
I read blogs on the DOC and I see the ways in which people cope with the aftermath of their diagnosis. I see the challenges people face and how they honestly and openly deal with managing their diabetes. Many are a true testament to the five dimensions mentioned in the article below. Reading these, feeds into my growth. I’ve learned so much and feel so much more connected than I did two months ago.
I hope one day that my son will tap into this community. At the moment, he’s busy doing his thing.
There are many articles to be read but I’ve copied the one below as it resonates most with me.
Traumatic events can shake one’s existence, dramatically influencing the quality of ones life by causing enormous suffering and severely hindering ones ability to feel fulfilled and happy. Nevertheless, while coping with traumatic events, some people discover their ability to grow in ways they hadn’t before. This phenomenon is known as “Post Traumatic Growth”.
What is Post Traumatic Growth
Post Traumatic Growth refers to a set of positive changes which occur as a result of coping with a traumatic event. This is not new and was discussed in the past by religious, philosophical, artistic and literary means, but only in recent years the phenomenon has been researched from a clinical perspective through scientific means.
In what way is Post Traumatic Growth expressed
Researchers defined 5 dimensions in which Post Traumatic Growth can be expressed. First, some people discover the notion that new opportunities are available to them which were unavailable prior to the traumatic event. Secondly, some people discover that they may feel a bond with certain individuals and may specifically have a strong connection with others who have experienced traumatic events. Thirdly, some experience, a fortified sense of self resiliency, as “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”. The forth is where post traumatic growth is illustrated by a greater and fuller appreciation of life in general. The fifth area is more of a spiritual one, where people feel a deeper spiritual commitment to their lives even if this commitment involves a significant change in their set of beliefs and values.
Post Traumatic Growth and emotional suffering
Post Traumatic Growth doesn’t replace the pain involved in coping with a traumatic event. Since post traumatic symptoms cause suffering, coping with them is inevitably painful. Post traumatic growth is not a way to extinguish the pain, but deals with the means people use to cope and the suffering which helps them to develop as people.
There is a beautiful and moving TED talk by Stacey Krammer named The Best Gift I Ever Survived. Stacey explains so eloquently how she survived and grew through her diagnosis of brain cancer.