Last Friday night I was a guest on the radio show Dreamcatchers for Abused Children. The hosts and I spent an hour discussing posttraumatic stress syndrome, how to cope, treatment options, how to manage triggers and how to move forward. It was a great conversation of positive, proactive survivors all coming together to speak frankly about what it means to struggle with PTSD and what we’ve found that helps us move toward wellness. You can listen to the Dreamcatchers for Abused Children broadcast here.
It’s left me thinking over the weekend about the importance of talking. It’s so natural – even necessary sometimes! – for us to isolate ourselves as we strive to manage PTSD symptoms and the sense of overwhelm all of the emotional roller coaster symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder bring up. I did that for say, oh, about 18 years! I refused to let anyone in or to let anyone help me or to even admit to anyone else that I had a problem. But when I finally did allow people to help me my world began to drastically change for the better.
Talking with Greg was like being released from the circus. I no longer had to perform. I no longer had to convince myself or anyone else I was all right, stable, happy, or any of the other things that, when you’re ill and disgusted by pity, you try to fake. I could admit I was afraid, without hope that I would ever feel at peace. I felt secure in the knowledge that if I started to fall apart, Greg would catch me.
Under Greg’s tutelage and through a forced devotion to a sort of cognitive consciousness, I began to reconnect with myself in both physical and psychological realms. Over a period of six months the pain in my muscles somewhat diminished. I could walk without feeling I was using an insufficient amount of weak and weary ligaments to haul a heavy skeleton up the block. With Greg, I admitted how old fears were hanging around and messing with my head.
Admittedly, learning to talk about trauma is tough. I wasn’t good at it right away. I fumbled around, got stuck, couldn’t speak, could speak but didn’t really make sense. I bet you know what I mean.
It took a lot of trial and error (and sometimes, embarrassment) but eventually I learned some nifty ways of wrangling words in a way that allowed me to maintain my sanity. I’ve blogged about this process and how you can do it in the series ‘How To Talk About Trauma.’
Over and over on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA I say, “We don’t heal in isolation; we heal in community.” That can be a community of two – you and a family member, friend or therapist. Or a community of many like a support group or forum.
Healing means opening ourselves to comfort and guidance. It means opening to another soul and allowing it to connect with ours in ways that bring comfort, safety, soothing, resolution and resilience. This can be done. The first step is mustering the courage to try.
Exciting news: my PTSD recovery memoir will be released on April 25th! I can’t believe it’s so close.
I began writing while I was still deep in the PTSD dark – and didn’t stop writing until I came out into the light. Once I began to speak it brought such a sense of release I just couldn’t stop. I think this was a huge benefit in my recovery as it allowed me to face things instead of avoid them.