Bringing Hope for PTSD: Why We Can’t Shut Up

This past week my friend and colleague Wanda and I spoke to therapists and administrators at one of Michigan’s top residential treatment centers for children about our experience with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Our story is unique. A desperate woman from the West Coast who’d unknowingly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder all her life and had been through every imaginable treatment took an unexpected call from a woman from the Midwest who immediately recognized her symptoms as PTSD. The desperate woman is my now-best friend Wanda. The woman who surprised her on the phone that day is me. In one God-appointed call, Wanda and I bonded for life. Weeks later, I was on a plane to the West Coast to meet her. Within months, she and I were at a trauma treatment center that gave her back her life in just ten days.

I knew about this treatment center–Intensive Trauma Therapy (ITT) in Morgantown, West Virginia–because a friend of mine (Jolene Philo, author of A Different Dream for My Child) had taken her son there. He, too, had tried treatment after treatment over the course of his life with no results and was living on the fragile edge of despair. After five days of out-patient treatment, he’d left, free from many of the symptoms of PTSD and able to cope with life for the first time in years. Just a year later, he’d landed his dream job, married, and was delivering lectures in his field of work.

Wanda’s ten-day out-patient treatment at ITT accomplished more than the combined days, weeks, and months she’d spent in a numerous residential and out-patient programs across the nation, as well as years of counseling. A lifetime of symptoms melted away, and she left equipped to deal with the challenges and realities of life.

On day three at ITT, life-long nightmares and rages disappeared. Behaviors, fears, and battles that had been part of her life for as long as she could remember fell away each successive day. And in the time since she’s left ITT, Wanda’s continued to make enormous strides in physical and mental health, as well as in her career and personal life.

One year out from her ten-day treatment at ITT, Wanda’s speaking to counselors and therapists about her experience and delivering hope to PTSD sufferers across the nation. I accompany her as we talk about her journey from despair to hope and healing.  And while her recovery came through a specific treatment model–the Instinctual Trauma Response Model developed by Dr. Louis Tinnen, the founder of ITT–Wanda attributes her ultimate healing to God.

Those suffering from PTSD call us, write us, and seek us out almost every day. The millions who suffer with PTSD in this nation deal with ravaging symptoms and often suffer in silence. Faith communities often see a division between “secular and sacred” and are reluctant to point PTSD sufferers and those who deal with mental illnesses to effective therapies.

But Wanda and I can’t stop talking. We’re overwhelmingly grateful to God for pointing us to the right treatment at the right time to accomplish healing. We can’t point people to ITT fast enough. We know a growing number whose stories were like Wanda’s: people who were living on the ragged edge of despair, were misdiagnosed and sought every available treatment without success.

Most came to ITT as a last resort to suicide. Days later, they left healed and with their hope renewed.

Opportunities continue to open up for Wanda and me to speak to therapists, individuals, churches, educators, and health professionals about hope for healing from post-traumatic stress disorder. We’ll talk about our story and our hope as often as we can. The statistics are simply too staggering, and the realities too stark:

  • 70% of adults have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life–over 223 million people. Over 20% of them will go on to develop PTSD.
  • An estimated 8% of the general population have PTSD right now. That figure jumps to 24% in the inner city.
  • An estimated 1 out of 10 women develop PTSD, compared to 1 out of 20 men.
  • 60-80% of those who experience severe trauma will develop PTSD.
  • 15-43% of girls and 14-43% of boys will experience a traumatic event
  • 3-15% girls and 1-6% of boys will develop PTSD

If you know a faith community, community organization, mental health organization, hospital, educational institution, or group that would like to hear our story of hope, feel free to contact us.

We can’t shut up.

2 thoughts on “Bringing Hope for PTSD: Why We Can’t Shut Up

  1. im a 60yo man who cant stop crying.after caring for my dying brother for 18mos,i finally cracked.although I wasn’t in warfare,i was a emt-paramedic in san francisco for 3-4 years,in the 80’s,and have never shied away from helping people in serious trouble outside of that professional arena either.the worst was the time a 19yo kid died in my arms after being beaten with rebar at the ferry building in san Francisco.i still see his face.i couldn’t get an airway,his larynx was crushed so badly.Senator Milton Marks of Ca.,officially honored me,after i saved one guy in san Francisco while I was at lunch one day.I never stopped to count the cost of all this,but now I cant stop crying.its embarrassing,and inconvenient.I was 15 and hitchhiking around the country,a car wreck at 2am New Years morning,67′,with 2 dead 17yo girls,and a badly injured boy who was the driver.i spent nearly an hour alone with them till the Porsche that finally drove by was able to get too a phone,and get help too them.i still see the one girl all the time,and she just haunts me.The girl in the back seat is just a dark figure in my mind,that I cant identify.All I know for sure is she was dead.Now,at 60,my brothers illness and death,and the lack of support from other family while I did the heavy lifting,has left me open too all of this past stuff,and I just cant stop running it.at 60

    • Hello, Ralph,

      I’m so very sorry to hear about your pain and loss. Thank you for the honesty and courage to share your story. Please know that you are not forgotten, and I am praying for you.

      I want you to know that your ongoing symptoms are common to people who have suffered PTSD. I also want you to know there is help and that these symptoms can be effectively treated–no matter how long you’ve experienced them or how old you are. Several years ago, I took my best friend for PTSD treatment at Intensive Trauma Therapy in Morgantown West Virginia. Wanda had experienced horrific symptoms for decades. In just ten days, her symptoms were radically relieved. Her nightmares and flashbacks disappeared, and many other life-controlling symptoms became manageable. Since her treatment, we have shared her story on the radio, at conferences and seminars, and through the Internet to tell as many people as possible that there is hope.

      We know that Wanda’s experience is the norm for those treated at Intensive Trauma Therapy because we have referred dozens of people there for treatment, and they write back to us and tell us how their lives have changed. I would give you my strongest recommendation to call them about possible treatment options that could drastically change your life.

      You have experienced trauma after trauma and need trauma-specific treatment, Ralph. Your brother’s illness and death have triggered the enormous and compounding losses of the past where you stepped in with heroic courage. The world is a better place because of your great heart. Now is the time to care for yourself.

      Prayers,
      Shelly

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