Milestones | Dealing with PTSD

In the world of mental health, there are key important signs that are milestones for those who are on the journey of healing who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Signposts that signal the return to a “New Normal” lifestyle is that one is beginning to make connections once again with reality and the present.  These signposts, if you will, are varied depending on the individual who is suffering from the disorder.  Small things such as being able to go into dark rooms or opening doors that hide what’s on the other side can be a sign that one is becoming use to dealing with the symptom of avoidance with of PTSD.

There is a key component though that can help in the situation which can only come from the outside, more on that in a moment.  Sadly though, reminders of past events are the veil that continues to be pulled over the sight of hope of regaining that new sense of “Normal” which is the goal.  These reminders can be debilitating to the healing process as they many times initiate flashback memories triggered by a smell, thought, image or word.  There are times that the outcropping of PTDS can be even more subtle than that, there are times that one can simply just be angry for no apparent reason which can also be a trigger that starts more anxiety due to wondering “why can’t I get better or just past this?”  which can jump in the way of wholeness.

As one who has and continues to battle these intrusions in life, I can attest to the fact that there have been many occasions that progress has been made but only through struggle, doubt, fear and frustration.  Having intrusive memories and pictures that fill the mind and soul out of the blue is a maddening thing.  Dreams that fill the night with terror and sleeplessness makes one grow weary to the point of despair which can drive one to seek out a place of escape.  Finding yourself in this defensive mode of avoidance due to not wanting to connect with people can not only be debilitating to the healing process but to relationships as well.  If I were to be honest, the temptation to want to avoid others comes from the idea that “if I have to engage my emotions to ‘Connect’ with others around me, then that would mean that I would have to peel back the layers of the hurt and loss due to the trauma that I’ve experienced.”  This is a painful process and would be easier to simply shut down and push the negative feelings away–thus short circuiting the hurt and loss.  Naturally this only leads to isolation and more loneliness which begins the vicious cycle all over again keeping me in the loop of hopelessness and despair of never being understood or loved due to my anger and frustration.

The good news is that these moments don’t have to continue to take over where we lose control.  Remember the key component that I mentioned earlier?  Yes, well that’s where faith comes in.  Finding that I don’t have all the answers and unable to heal myself, other than some simple healthy coping skills, there is no hope without the help of the supernatural.  Allowing God to be a part of the healing process is paramount to being able to live in the present reality and begin to receive healing in ones life.  Having a simple prayer of “God, help me to trust again or help me to feel again” can be a step in the right direction.  Be warned though, this will mean that opportunities for trust and feelings will come your way.  There will be times of testing your sincerity of your prayers.  This does not mean that it will be easy because this faith and life is a journey by which we learn and grow.  In time, God will aid you in the process of healing and bring you to that new sate of “Normal”.

Captain R

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