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Can You Heal From PTSD Without Support from Loved Ones?

October 9, 2014 Michele Rosenthal

Healing from PTSD without support is lonely. Can you actually recover from posttraumatic stress disorder without the support of friends or family? Find out.

There’s no doubt about it: When you’re trying to achieve any task it’s much easier to do when you have the support of family and friends. Watch any sport and you can see how true this is - the fans in a stadium cheering on a team or player, the crowds that line the route of a marathon shouting encouragement, or even the caddy who walks with a golfer softly speaking words of belief in a successful outcome for the upcoming hole. Humans are social beings and, as such, we seek and even crave the connection of others when we attempt a difficult and meaningful task.

PTSD Healing Without Support Is Lonely

While the pressure to win the game of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma recovery is bigger than the Super Bowl, Masters, and World Series put together, it is often a process that, unlike those championships, is very lonely. Just when you need people the most, you might find that you have no one except yourself. There are many reasons for this, some of the most prevalent being:

  • Too many people are uneducated about PTSD. Those who don’t have PTSD don’t have the education to understand what PTSD is, how and why it happens, and what recovery requires. At the least, this means they don’t know how to support your healing; at the worst, this means they get as far away as possible because they don’t believe in it.
  • Non-survivors don’t know how to relate. Many who are not survivors of trauma don’t know how to relate to trauma; it scares them, or they don’t have the faintest idea of what to say, how to say it, or what would be helpful, so they distance themselves (How to Talk to Someone Who Has PTSD).
  • Survivors with PTSD isolate. You don’t want to be embarrassed, etc., by symptoms so you spend more and more time alone. This keeps you safe from showing your PTSD self to others, but also means in the moments you could use a friend you’ve alienated everyone.
  • Survivors don’t seek the right kind of support. It’s normal not to know who to turn to or from where to expect kindness, empathy and camaraderie during the tough times. If your choice of people in whom to confide or depend is not focused on those who have shown you they possess qualities that make them dependable and kind then you’ll find yourself alone in the moments you least expect because you’ve been expecting the wrong person to be there when you need him.

What to Do When You Feel Alone While Healing from PTSD Without Support

Regardless of how you end up feeling alone, the truth is that you can heal without the benefit of friends and family. To be sure, it’s nice and an added bonus to be surrounded by love and compassion but it isn’t a requirement for your ultimate healing.

Overcoming trauma and PTSD is a uniquely personal process that allows your body and brain to rewire and move from survival mode to normal living mode. This isn’t a process that requires the love of a friend. At its heart, healing requires that you find trauma-trained professionals and treatment approaches that resonate with you and allow you to do the work you need to do.

If you’re facing recovery without family or friend cheerleaders, and find yourself wanting support, there are many ways to make meaningful human connections outside of your immediate circle. Some of the best places to do this include:

  • Religious organizations -- join a church, synagogue or other religious association and participate in weekly gathering and services
  • Spiritual institutions -- take a weekly class, join a meditation or discussion group
  • Online forums -- join a safe, positive and supportive community where you feel comfortable to be yourself and state your needs, such as HealthUnlocked.com/HealMyPTSD
  • PTSD Support groups -- find a local or virtual program that offers group meetings

Doing anything is easier when you have help and support. Still, there are many difficult things people achieve all on their own. PTSD recovery can be one of those things for you. As long as family and friends are not getting in the way (by bullying, belittling, demeaning or disrespecting your journey) then it may help to focus less on their absence and more on the presence you’d like to fill their place.

Who can support your healing? What kind of person do you want to help you recover? As awkward a time as it is to do this, build the circle of family and friends you want. The act of doing that may actually be a very important part of your recovery process.

Michele is the author of Your Life After Trauma: Powerful Practices to Reclaim Your Identity. Connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and her blog.

APA Reference
Rosenthal, M. (2014, October 9). Can You Heal From PTSD Without Support from Loved Ones?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2014/10/is-it-possible-to-heal-from-ptsd-without-support-from-family-or-friends



Author: Michele Rosenthal

Mini
October, 23 2018 at 1:19 am

Whoa! These personal stories are so sad. Im very sorry for all who had endured such a traumatic childhood.
I understand, and I experienced abuse of all kinds as a child also. My "dad" had beaten us, molested me, my whole childhood and adolescence. It was way more than just molesting. I had to watch my 8 siblings and mother get choked out beaten to pulps, cursed out, insulted on a daily basis. It was alwaya intense EVERY SINGLE day. So yeah, I'm broke. I was always in a survival mindstate.
When we werent getting beat, I was separated and preyed up on. Too scared and young to do anything, I did the only thing that came with no thought; try to survive. Well, I just turned 32 coupla days ago, so technically I did 'survive'.
My dad passed away unexpectedly 4 months back, and I was and still am confused about the way I feel. Definitely, I DO NOT MISS HIM! IM SAD THAT I DIDN'T CONFRONT HIM. MADE HIM LISTEN TO THE WAY I FEEL NOW AND THEN. IM REALLY ANGRY. HE WAS SUPPOSED TO SUFFER, SUPPOSED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. BUT NO... FOR ALL I KNOW HE GOT AWAY.
As hard that is for me, my family, the very ppl that endured the SAME abuse that I did, they grieving, they miss him, "He was a 'good person'... ' A King'... "!
A ****ing, KING??!
I WAS BORN LOST, DEEP IN HELL. HOW COULD I KNOW WHO I REALLY AM? MY 'SELF" was stripped from me. I dont know where to even begin.

October, 24 2018 at 11:55 am

I can so relate to everything you said, and I'm so sorry for what you went through. My main abuser also died without ever having to pay for what he did, and I never confronted him. Members of my family still talk about how much they miss him. It is very hard to understand and just adds to the crazy making of all of it, but I've come to realize that it's their way of not having to face the truth.
Mini- I felt the same way- How could I know who I really am? But, I promise you, your "self" is still very much yours and something they could never touch. The things that happened to you are part of you, but they do not define you and over time, with help, you can build a version of yourself that you are happy with.
Starting therapy with a trauma-informed therapist helped me see the effects my abuse had on me. Understanding that helped me learn how to undo some of the damage and begin to view myself differently. Finding a therapist may be a good place to start for you. Also, the book “Complex PTSD from Surviving to Thriving” by Pete Walker is so good in helping people who lived through years of childhood abuse learn about the effects left on us and how to cope with them. Reading the book is also a good place to start.

Mini
October, 23 2018 at 1:18 am

Whoa! These personal stories are so sad. Im very sorry for all who had endured such a traumatic childhood.
I understand, and I experienced abuse of all kinds as a child also. My "dad" had beaten us, molested me, my whole childhood and adolescence. It was way more than just molesting. I had to watch my 8 siblings and mother get choked out beaten to pulps, cursed out, insulted on a daily basis. It was alwaya intense EVERY SINGLE day. So yeah, I'm broke. I was always in a survival mindstate.
When we werent getting beat, I was separated and preyed up on. Too scared and young to do anything, I did the only thing that came with no thought; try to survive. Well, I just turned 32 coupla days ago, so technically I did 'survive'.
My dad passed away unexpectedly 4 months back, and I was and still am confused about the way I feel. Definitely, I DO NOT MISS HIM! IM SAD THAT I DIDN'T CONFRONT HIM. MADE HIM LISTEN TO THE WAY I FEEL NOW AND THEN. IM REALLY ANGRY. HE WAS SUPPOSED TO SUFFER, SUPPOSED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. BUT NO... FOR ALL I KNOW HE GOT AWAY.
As hard that is for me, my family, the very ppl that endured the SAME abuse that I did, they grieving, they miss him, "He was a 'good person'... ' A King'... "!
A FUCKING, KING??!
I WAS BORN LOST, DEEP IN HELL. HOW COULD I KNOW WHO I REALLY AM? MY 'SELF" was stripped from me. I dont know where to even begin.

Caroline beckert
September, 29 2018 at 10:22 am

There is no support . This world is going to he'll. No one cares about anyone else . Life is meaningless and everyone is evil . Hospitals won't help me nor any program that I have been to. Hospitals say they will referr u to trauma therapy in outside programming and they never do. All people do is laugh at your ptsd. Even since I was a child and I have never received help for it. Only mocked and laughed at. Taken advantage of for having a traumatic brain injury being raped ridiculed all my life .

Kacie
August, 12 2017 at 9:16 am

What do you do if your family and partner are belittling, bullying, demeaning and disrespecting your journey?!? That's the information I can't find anywhere. I'm working 3 days a week with professionals all year to improve, and then my family will just say I'm lying and making excuses so I can be lazy or not accept any blame. This makes me feel crazy and take steps backwards.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 16 2017 at 3:21 pm

Kacie, what a good question. There is no easy answer because we all have such different experiences with family. I would discuss this with your counselor. For me, having a family member deny me the right to tell my story and be believed was painful and added to my trauma. I had to break that cycle by distancing myself from them until they were ready to accept me.

Beryle Chambers
October, 18 2014 at 7:19 pm

I am the oldest of six siblings. The violence and abuse in our family of origin was so bad we all suffer from PTSD to varying degrees.Myself and my next sister have it the worst because we went through it longer. The last four not as badly because we did everything we could to protect the younger ones. I'm in my 60's now and the youngest is 50. I still have terrible nightmares but because of therapy am able to let them go. Thank God I live in Canada where treatment is covered and meds as well. Some of my siblings also went into therapy and some chose not to. Those with children parented well and hopefully that family secret/pattern stops here.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Melanie
October, 15 2015 at 2:00 pm

Hi Beryl,
Its almost a year to the day since you posted your comment and I'm hoping you are doing well. I am also a survivor of an extremely traumatic childhood. I had 3 siblings and all of us have really struggled. Were all about a yr apart in age. I am 51 now. 2 of my siblings committed suicide, each at age 48 and only 3 yrs apart so I lost my older brother in 2011 and my sister in 2014. The trauma we shared cannot be explained to an outsider as you may well understand what i mean. I feel completely lost and isolated from the world. Its still so painful I'm unable to talk to others about it. I just don't know anyone who can understand what it was like 1st to have lived the childhood trauma but then to be hit with their suicides in middle age was just too much. Its been crippling.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tina
November, 28 2015 at 10:47 pm

Hi, I live in South Dakota and it is the extreme opposite here even when I am on disability. My biological family are still alcoholics that started everything again when I got sick and ended up on disability. The crazy, severe abuse but in different ways. They enmeshed my 24 yr old daughter and granddaughter into their toxicity, even though I broke all chains with my daughter and took her away from where they lived to raise her.
My father's wife gave him an ultimatum of her or me again a couple months ago for the 5/6th time. Again in the South Dakota winters. My disability check goes to car insurance, gas, medical things that medicare does not cover, least expensive place to stay or myself and my service dog live and sleep in car. On and on. I have no support system. The city we live in is 17,000 and my dad has owned one of his businesses over 55 years. People know him as he used to be and in public is usually a functional alcoholic and his wife, I have no words to explain her. My biological mom takes medications for MS and is also a alcoholic.
I could go on as u know and understand, I am sure. But I am exhausted after a crazy day and the games they have played for a week. I am suppose to pay again on Monday for motel, but don't know how.
I am going to try to sleep as exhausted as I am, but usually can't sleep anyway. Feel free to email me with any questions, comments, thoughts, suggestions, idead, etc.
Thank you
Tina

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