DOES PTSD LAST FOREVER?
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) … Our society is now familiar with the term. Many people still identify Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with war veterans. More people do also realize and acknowledge that any trauma victim may suffer from PTSD.
My readers know that I dealt with Complex PTSD. This was due to the decades of abuse and torture that I endured from birth to almost 47 years of age. Amazingly, I have healed immensely. Pastoral counseling, therapy, NeurOptimal Neurofeedback, a women’s support group (WINGS Foundation) for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and a deep spiritual connection contributed to this healing.
Two of my favorite books on the subject of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and trauma are:
“THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE: BRAIN, MIND, AND BODY IN THE HEALING OF TRAUMA” by Bessel A. van der Kolk, M.D.
“TRAUMA and RECOVERY: The aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror” by Judith Herman, M.D.
Herman’s words on torture, etc. are illuminating. I found this book to be tremendously helpful. In fact, I shared my reflections on parts of Herman’s book on my original website that I wrote before my trial for custodial interference, before the hung jury, and before the charges were dismissed. See: https://hopeforus.wordpress.com/notes-and-personal-comments-on-captivity-and-ptsd/
(For more information on Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, see: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/PTSD-overview/complex-ptsd.asp)
Do you ever heal completely from PTSD or Complex PTSD? I found myself pondering that question recently.
Life comes more challenging for me during periods of higher than usual stress. I am not normally living “in” PTSD or “with” PTSD symptoms on a daily basis. It is easier for me to witness the symptoms appearing during periods of high stress, life transitions, and difficult challenges. For example, I recognize the times of panic/anxiety, the urge to run and run, as a PTSD symptom that is activated by intense present life difficulties.
Many survivors are quite familiar with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex PTDS. A link which I found helpful that contains a lists of symptoms is: https://ptsdawayout.com/tools/
When I was facing memories, dealing with the courts, legal and custody issues in two countries, then virtual homelessness, the urgent need to find employment, etc., I was also dealing with too many signs of PTSD. I look back at those years and wonder how did I survive? Many people contributed to my survival and to my healing process. Their contributions were big and small. All counted. I am extremely grateful still.
The reality is that some trauma victims do not survive. Some do not heal enough. Alcohol, drug use and addiction are common. Denial exists. Minimizing the abuse and trauma is common. Too many kill themselves. Search on Google for veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and suicide rates. The numbers are quite high.
I do not take my healing lightly. Anyone who survives and thrives has most likely worked quite hard. Yet, survivors can work hard and continue to suffer greatly from PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and more. It is important that society becomes educated. Supporting others and treating victims with compassion is needed.
Does one ever heal fully from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Do we live with it forever? In my mind, with my experience, I think of Complex PTSD as going into remission or at least sleeping during various periods of my life. Stability in life helps. A balanced lifestyle, good sleeping habits, spiritual practices, and a set work schedule are quite important to me. It is not healthy for me to work long, irregular hours. I do not have the luxury of that anymore.
Guilt. It may be difficult for survivors to accept any shortcoming that may arise due to trauma. We often want to heal now and forever. Survivors want to be done with it. Yet, PTSD is not similar to a broken arm that is fixed or a bout of pneumonia that ends.
People do not “see” many PTSD symptoms. They cannot view your pain or suffering as one can view a broken arm in a cast or a person who limps due to injuries. It is harder for trauma survivors to share their pain. When something affects us on a mental and emotional level or even a spiritual level for those survivors of spiritual abuse, it is somehow harder to accept our shortcomings. We should be stronger. We should have control. That may be what we think or what others think for us.
When one has physical ailments and illnesses, society is generally more sympathetic and understanding. We, as a community, still have further to travel.
People get older. Their bodies and minds change. Physical and memory issues may occur. When you add age and PTSD symptoms, the reality of life may be harsh. Acceptance is needed.
Medications for physical illnesses may affect people with PTSD differently. If alcohol or drug problems are your present or past experiences, medication use needs to be weighed and measured.
My recommendations are:
Feel your emotions. Let them go if you are able.
Fear at times is normal.
Stay together. Reach out for support.
Do not be ashamed.
You are suffering from PTSD. It is none of your fault.
Know your limits.
Set healthy boundaries in your work life and with relationships.
Stand in your TRUTH.
Be and act with dignity and integrity.
If a victim or survivor is fortunate, he or she will die of natural causes. Alcohol, drugs, or suicide will not be the cause. Living with PTSD is not easy. Have compassion toward yourself and others. Be as strong as you are able.
Do your best. Your best may not seem good enough to you or to others. You know yourself. You know your past history and your present life circumstances. You know how far you have traveled. Remember, you are good enough!
Living with PTSD symptoms – whether often or seldom – is definitely challenging. Accept where you are in your healing process. Accepting that PTSD symptoms may reappear helps. You are not a failure. It is okay to feel vulnerable.
Tell someone you trust that you experiencing PTSD symptoms. Sharing how you feel helps you not to feel alone.
You know your strengths and weaknesses. The more you heal, the more knowledgeable about yourself you become. A balance is struck or seen. You know when to push yourself and when your limit is reached. Deep inside, you know your capabilities and limitations.