A few years back I didn’t know much about post-traumatic stress disorder. I know a lot more about PTSD today–from the inside out. I just returned from a week of outpatient therapy at Intensive Trauma Therapy (ITT) in Morgantown, West Virginia, that changed my life. So here’s the REAL truth about people who live with PTSD.
Today PTSD is commonly associated with returning veterans. And our vets should be getting the attention they deserve and effective and appropriate treatment for the horrific trauma they experienced serving our nation. But research indicates that approximately 8% of America’s general population suffers from PTSD at any given moment. PTSD can develop in anyone who has experienced events that overwhelm the brain’s ability to cope, such as
Three years ago, I accompanied my best friend Wanda to ITT for trauma therapy. And I’d made the mistake of thinking that if I was suffering from trauma, I’d be struggling with the same problems as my friend. Not true. There are are reasons that addiction and self-abuse are often trauma-related symptoms. But a person doesn’t have to struggle with those things to struggle with trauma.
The first is simply not understanding the many causes and symptoms of trauma. Many women I meet at conferences and seminars are shocked to discover that for decades they’ve struggled with symptoms of trauma. The reason second is that everyone knows someone who struggles with trauma. One in four women will develop PTSD in her lifetime. But few women associate themselves as potentially needing treatment. And the third is that treating trauma symptoms, such as addiction or anxiety, and treating the trauma itself are NOT the same thing. Many people go untreated for their PTSD and trauma for years because they don’t recognize the root problem.
Most people don’t like talking about living with the feeling that it’s hard to cope–especially if we live and work in a faith-saturated world, where people can expect health and healing. It takes courage to admit you need help and that your life feels like it’s unraveling. People with PTSD struggle to find safe places to talk about how they feel. They feel “stuck,” and often they’ve tried treatments that have failed.
They need understanding. They need friend who will listen without easy answers. And they need friends and family who understand PTSD and trauma.
I can remember how broken my best friend Wanda felt in the days before she went for treatment at ITT. She was convinced she was the one “unfixable” person treatment couldn’t help. I had no idea that three years later, after decades of caregiving and other unaddressed traumatic experiences in my life had caught up with me, I’d feel the same way.
The good news is that Wanda found life-changing treatment in just ten days. I came home after five days unburdened from my anxiety in ways I couldn’t have envisioned before my treatment.
I know. I’ve experienced it. Wanda and I have written a book of encouragement for women who suffer with trauma symptoms. Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life will release in June (Kregel Publications). The book is filled with resources for women who need a basic understanding of trauma, but, most of all, who need encouragement.
If you know someone who may be struggling with trauma, encourage them to seek treatment with a qualified therapist. Life CAN be different. Healing IS possible.
Next blog from Shelly: Why I went for treatment and how it helped.
Photo Credit: TableWis.Blogspot.com