The month of June has been PTSD Awareness Month and today is PTSD Awareness Day.  For many years, I’ve had the privilege of sitting with many survivors of trauma and have learned much from their sharing.

They have taught me that PTSD isn’t so much a mental illness as it is a journey.

They have taught me that no one “Gets over” a trauma. Rather they have taught me that, over time, survivors of trauma gradually reclaim power taken from them by an abuser, a shooter, an assailant, a combatant.

They have taught me that the journey of healing especially involves learning to “walk with the pain”, that is, learning to find a way that they can live their lives with hope, gratitude, and joy while at the same time bearing the burden of a trauma that may be unimaginable.

They have taught me that trauma is an attack at every level — body, mind, and spirit — and that healing needs to address each area.

They have taught me that forgiveness is not the same thing as excusing or condoning. Rather it is the reclaiming of power.

They have taught me that healing from trauma involves much grieving, not only for possible lost loved ones but for lost innocence, loss of a way of life, loss of a sense of safety, and, for some, a loss of faith.

If you suffer from some form of PTSD, there is help available. Talking about trauma stirs up the pain but can also open a door for true healing. Above all, find a helper who listens and doesn’t jump into telling you what to do to “get over it.”

Be aware that others may tell you that “it’s time to get on with your life.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if healing were that simple? The journey of recovery is long and slow. Be patient especially with yourself.

If you have friends and loved ones who’ve suffered trauma, never forget the value of listening, as painful as that can be. Don’t advise. Just listen. It can be a hard thing to do but, if you take the time to listen, you may be blessed with great lessons in courage and faith, as I have been.

About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
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6 Responses to On PTSD

  1. Heide Christine Patterson says:

    Hi Richard,

    thanks for this piece, it is very powerful. I also believe PTSD is just a label people came up, instead, trauma in one way or the other is a normal part of life and it is all about how we respond to it and reclaim our power.

    Thanks again.



  2. Susan Bass says:

    I agree that PTSD is not a mental illness but rather a life experience that many people undergo. It is still in the DSM-IV of course and is a label of sorts. It can create some degree of disability BUT it can also create “Post Traumatic Growth”, a deeper understanding and wisdom. Thank you for acknowledging that trauma survivors can reclaim the power that was taken from them. Some say that PTSD is a disorder of control – the control that was taken away.

  3. Chas Thomas says:

    Excellent post.Thanks!

  4. Kathleen McGrane says:

    Thank you for this and for being there so many years ago.

  5. Margie Sanchez says:

    Who would have known that we would go through this horrible experience in our community.

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