Not long ago I had a conversation with another pathology blogger who was adamant that isolating herself is what she needed. I recognize it’s what she wants. I want it too. I struggle with wanting to isolate especially when I’m triggered.

But really recovering from ALL of the PTSD symptoms means we have to challenge ourselves and deal with the parts that we are avoiding. Avoidance and it’s aftermath of isolation, is after all, a big part of PTSD and other stress related behaviors.

If our recovery was based on only doing what feels ‘good’ then we will only get partially recovered. The need to reduce hyper vigilance through isolation is paramount but it often squelches real legitimate needs for dealing with our avoidance and reaching out to build support and community.

Hyper vigilance feels horrible and many survivors get stuck in just trying to deal with that one symptom by isolating to the exclusion of dealing with that very real thing of isolation and avoidance. Isolation is used to manage hyper vigilance but if isolation is then dealt with it might not be what’s used to deal with hyper vigilance and forces another solution to be sought other than isolation.

Hypervigilance is one of the categories of symptoms in PTSD. But so is isolation. So as an example, the blog owner is essentially using some of the other categories of symptoms, isolation and avoidance, to try to deal with the category of hyper vigilance. It is like trying to use anxiety to manage depression. You can’t use one of the symptoms of the disorder to manage the other symptoms of the disorder.

PTSD recovery is not just about reducing hyper vigilance as this one blog owner stated. It is often a reflection of where our recovery stops, where we are stuck in getting to one place that we feel we can semi-control, like hyper vigilance, and the absence of that symptom feels as if we are ‘there’ or conquered some mountain in our symptom-lives. Or we become satisfied that if ‘at least’ we are not hyper vigilance it feels ‘good enough.’ It is unfortunate that we stop at managing one symptom and think ‘it’s enough’ and our avoidance swells at the thought of taking the next step to deal with the next set of symptoms.

Recovery is about ways of managing symptoms such as hyper vigilance, but as we know, there is MUCH MUCH more to PTSD or other stress disorders than one symptom. We can’t use one of the symptoms of our aftermath to try to manage another symptom. The answer is a full recovery, facing those things that are uncomfortable for us knowing that in the end, we will build mastery.

(**If we can support you in your recovery process, please let us know. The Institute is the largest provider of recovery-based services for survivors of pathological love relationships. Information about Pathological Love Relationships is in our award-winning book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, and is also available in our retreats, 1:1s, or phone sessions. See the website for more information.)