PTSD Recovery: Asking For Help
An important element of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recovery is to ask for help; but that didn’t come naturally for me (Are You Afraid To Ask For Mental Health Help?). My PTSD was caused by domestic violence while I was growing up in an alcoholic household. I learned at an early age to never ask for help and I had to overcome that learned behavior in order to recover. In my PTSD recovery, I had to learn to ask for help.
Why I Didn’t Ask for Help in PTSD Recovery
While I was growing up, it became clear that I wasn’t supposed to talk about what went on inside our house. Therefore, asking for help was forbidden. I couldn’t ask a school counselor or a minister at our church – because then someone on the outside would know what was really taking place in my world. I couldn’t ask my parents – because they were the ones who had caused my PTSD and were continuing to make it worse.
I learned to do things on my own. I remember trying to lug a large dresser up a flight of stairs by myself because I wouldn’t ask someone to help me move. Self-reliance was the rule I lived by, so for years I didn’t ask for help in PTSD recovery.
Ask for Help As Part of PTSD Recovery
I thought I would feel great shame if I ever asked for help – that I would be thought a
failure in life.
I had gotten comfortable with one of the ministers at my church. It was really tough to do but I went to him and laid out my struggles. Firstly, I was surprised that he wasn’t surprised – he’d seen my struggle.
Secondly, I was astonished that he didn’t wag his finger at me or try to put me down. He guided me to counseling resources. That was the beginning of my asking for help with my PTSD recovery.
Continuing to Ask For Help in PTSD Recovery
Not long ago I mentioned to a friend an analogy I’d heard many years ago: how a healing journey is like steering a canoe. You can’t steer directly toward the destination because you have to paddle on first one side of the canoe, then the other. You move the canoe roughly along a fall line, making course corrections to keep you headed in the right direction.
It’s been that way with my PTSD healing process. I try something, and it may or may not work well. I may need to adjust, and go a tiny bit to the other side, to correct the course. The first therapist I went to was great about helping me address the issues I had with my father. But alcoholism never got brought in to the conversation – and that was a key part of my formative experience.
PTSD wasn’t that well known when I first began my PTSD recovery work. I first confronted the violence in the alcoholic home through a 12-step group – but didn't realize I was addressing the issues that led to my symptoms of PTSD.
I had to ask someone to mentor me through the 12-step process, which meant I had to face my fears about asking for help in my PTSD recovery. It turned out amazingly well but it was still scary when I did it.
I’ve finally acknowledged that I’m not a great resource to gauge my own PTSD recovery. I have developed a strong network of friends who can help me see what I need to address next. Asking for PTSD recovery help is still not all that fun – but it’s a vital part of my healing journey.
My Experience With Asking for Help During PTSD Recovery
Photo by Tomas Hellberg @ Flickr. Creative Commons.
Dan is a PTSD survivor, and author of Healing The Writer: A Personal Account of Overcoming PTSD and Freedom’s Just Another Word. You can connect with Dan on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and at his website DanLHays.com.
Hays, D. (2015, December 21). PTSD Recovery: Asking For Help, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2015/12/ptsd-recovery-asking-for-help
Author: Dan Hays
That was great...I have only found safety in counciling with someone I have to pay.
No one seems to understand,or even want too, other wise.
I hear you - trust is a big issue, especially when asking for help.