Recovery from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: What Helped Me
There is a such thing as recovery from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I have had posttraumatic stress disorder since college. At one point, my symptoms were so severe I was involuntarily committed to the state hospital system. That was eight years ago. Now I'm living on my own and running a small freelance writing business and I recently published a Bible study for sexual assault survivors. My symptoms are usually manageable. Recovery from PTSD is possible, and here are three things that helped me.
PTSD Recovery Tip #1: Seek Your Higher Power
I recently gave a talk to a church audience about one of my traumatic experiences--hospitalization in the state system. Long story short, abuse and neglect were rife, ranging from denial of medical treatment for appendicitis for several hours, to a staff member actually hitting a patient. I was stripped down to nothing--even bathroom breaks were on the staff's schedule. I had no choice but to seek my Higher Power in order to survive. I only got through the experience by the grace of God.
Seek your Higher Power by whatever name you call the Great Mystery. It doesn't matter if it's Jehovah, YHWH, Allah, God, Wakan Tanka, Gaia, or Life Force. Whatever Higher Power you call on that responds to you is holy and good. The important thing is that it works for you. Seek your Higher Power in PTSD recovery because when you find out who or what that is, you find out who you are and why.
One of the best examples of a relationship with a Higher Power is in Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye argues with God, complains to God, jokes with God, and the villagers observe:
God would like us to be joyful.
Even when our hearts lie panting on the floor.
How much more can one be joyful.
When there's really something to be joyful for?
There's a big difference between joy and happiness. You can be joyful--I prefer the term hopeful--even when life goes from bad to worse. You can have a sense of hope without happiness, but you can't have happiness without hope. And that hope comes from a Higher Power.
PTSD Recovery Tip #2: Work In Therapy
I didn't grow up in the healthiest of families, so by the time I reached college, I had no clue how to function in a world that wasn't hostile. It did not help that my depression manifested in college. I sought therapy at first as a way to stop the flashbacks, and discovered I had a lot of baggage. To use a construction analogy, you have to dig a hole before you build a foundation, and you have to have a firm foundation to build a house. And I was in a hole, getting referred all over Waco before I finally found a therapist who wouldn't give up after a few sessions.
The process of seemingly unending referrals began again when I moved to Indianapolis. Eventually, I moved across county lines to get the specialized treatment that was right for me--I was finally assigned a therapist who specialized in the worst cases in the system. If this happens to you, do not be discouraged--the right therapist is out there. Look for someone who empathizes with you, calls you on your self-defeating actions and beliefs, and is not going to bail when the going gets tough. Do whatever it takes to find the right therapist. If you had a physical illness such as cancer, you would not rest until you had the best doctor possible for your case. Mental illness is no different.
PTSD Recovery Tip #3: Nourish Yourself
You have to recognize your limits and honor them by taking time to nourish yourself when recovering from PTSD. How you do this varies according to who you are. I spend my free time playing video games such as River City Ransom and Star Wars: TIE Fighter. I also have become a frequent player of a Christian game that is actually good (most aren't)--Journey of Jesus: The Calling. I take time to nourish myself by doing things I enjoy and things that benefit me. That's vital to recovery.
You are a strong person or you would not have survived up until this point. But even the strongest of people have limits. It is important to recognize those limits and not push yourself beyond them. Take time to be mindful. Take time to just be. Nourish yourself--it's the best thing you can do for yourself in the long run.
Those are three things that helped my recovery from PTSD. What have you found to be helpful?
Oberg, B. (2016, September 12). Recovery from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: What Helped Me, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 26 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2016/09/recovery-from-posttraumatic-stress-disorder-three-things-that-helped-me