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.