“I just finished treatment for complex PTSD. Nobody understands trauma, so I rarely talk about it.”
The woman sitting next to me on our flight from Denver to Seattle was an accountant. Confident. Self-assured. Professional. And a recovering addict who’d struggled for years with symptoms PTSD stemming from early childhood medical procedures.
It had taken her years to recognize that childhood medical procedures were at the root of the long list of symptoms that had taken her life hostage.
Sadly, most people don’t understand the cause-and-effect between trauma and the symptoms of PTSD and seek treatment for the underlying cause.
The reality is that life is a series of traumas that the brain processes as either “Big T” or “little t” events, depending on a number of factors. Any event that is so threatening that it (1) overwhelms our brain, (2) triggers a reactive chemical wash that shuts down one side of the brain and causes us to “freeze” initiates the Instinctual Trauma Response (Big T trauma with potential resulting symptoms).
In the past few years, my colleague Wanda and I have met dozens of men and women suffering from PTSD who never realized before meeting us that trauma was the source of their various symptoms: hoarding, self-abuse, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hearing voices (one of the easiest symptoms to treat), eating disorders, depression, suicidal fixation, and other symptoms.
Many people who have PTSD don’t know that their symptoms aren’t the problem; trauma is the problem, and trauma can be successfully treated.
This week our book Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life was released in bookstores and online. This book addresses the desperation and despair felt by those who suffer from PTSD. It gives a voice to those who often feel unfixable, hopeless, and isolated.
But more importantly, it offers hope. As women who have experienced PTSD, Wanda and I understand the desperation and the struggles. This is why it was critically important for us to write a book that honestly expressed the feelings of those dealing with PTSD, but also offered compassion, hope, and truth. This book also offers practical resources for family members and friends, as well as support communities, such as churches.
Someone you know has PTSD and may not even know it.
Learn what it feels like to walk in their shoes. Learn what you can do to help. And if you’re struggling, take the first step toward healing by telling a trusted friend or medical or mental health professional.