Most people tend of think of people with post-traumatic stress disorder as veterans or Katrina victims. The general population doesn’t know that one in four women will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in her lifetime.
When you’re sitting in a restaurant, ball game, church service, or business meeting, if every eighth person stood up, that’s the number of people who are suffering from PTSD.
One out of eight. Of your friends. Your family members.
I was one of them. And I was in hiding until I went to Intensive Trauma Therapy in Morgantown, West Virginia.
What was life like for me?
Certain experiences, memories, sights, smells, and thoughts triggered intense feelings of abandonment and anxiety.
I lived with guilt because I couldn’t control my fears. I tried counseling, but it didn’t work. I consulted with spiritual advisers and spent time in prayer and meditation, but my symptoms persisted. So I threw myself into my work and pressed into caring for my loved ones, but my symptoms just wouldn’t go away. In fact, they continued to intensify.
But I was stuck in denial. Certainly I didn’t need trauma treatment. I could figure things out. Besides, I couldn’t afford it.
After nearly crashing and burning, I was forced to admit that I couldn’t afford NOT to go. My symptoms weren’t going to get better unless I addressed the roots of my problem. And so this past winter, I packed my bags and headed to Intensive Trauma Therapy–uncertain and afraid.
I was sure the therapists couldn’t help me in just five days. I mean, come on now. Five days? It’s taken me longer than five days to beat a case of dandruff.
But I was wrong. So very wrong. And never so glad to be wrong.
The therapy modality used at ITT is simple and effective. And I find it to be consistent with my Christian worldview. Certain parts of me and my brain are “stuck” and can’t get past the lies I believe. This is a biological fact caused by traumatic experiences in my life. The therapeutic approaches used at ITT “rewire” those traumatic experiences and re-file them in my brain. I also learned how my true, healthy self can speak to the broken places in me and enable the healing process.
My healing began on day one of treatment. I returned to my hotel room that evening freed from anxiety that had gripped me for years.
Does that mean I’m living an anxiety-free life? No. But it means I’m living with a manageable range of anxiety. I now understand where that anxiety originates, how to cope with it, and how it interacts in my life.
So what actually happened in those five days of therapy? I learned writing and other graphic and narrative skills that move my trauma experiences from one side of my brain to the other. I learned how to talk to the “stuck” parts of me and gain clarity and new insight about the fears and anxieties that trapped me so I can move forward. I learned skills that allowed me to come home on day six with new behaviors that have become a part of daily living and healing that has changed my life.
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of trauma, find a professional who understands.
There is HOPE.
For more information on trauma and PTSD, visit PTSDPerspectives.org. And looking for my upcoming book, written with co-author Wanda Sanchez, releasing this June: Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life.