This originally appeared as a guest post on DeborahKing.com.
When I start asking over and over again if I am OK, if the situation is OK, if the kids, the weather, the roads, are OK, then I am headed for a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) episode. When I repeatedly ask if you are OK, if you are sick, if your partner or your kids are sick, then I am PTSD. I need constant reassurance that everything is OK. Because a few times in my life, things were definitely not OK.
I am a regular person: a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend. I am just like you, except I was in a war. The war I survived wasn’t on a distant battlefield; instead, it was right here, close to home. Our traumas, our triggers are all unique, but the effects of PTSD are all eerily similar.
One of the many significant challenges of PTSD was the not knowing. Not knowing when I might be triggered, not knowing how long the episode might last, and not knowing how severe it might be. This not knowing was crippling for me. In one moment I was perfectly fine, and the next, I was in a haze, suddenly feeling like I had just time-traveled, I was in this bubble alone, and then came the fear, the shaking, the paranoia, and the tears of despair. What was beginning to surface were emotions from old traumas that were stored deep within me. Trauma like having had my high school boyfriend nearly die in front of me, never to recover; trauma from having had cancer as a young mother, and who knows how many other traumas. Day by day, a part of an old wound would resurface and I would suddenly go PTSD.
To this day, I will never know why the emotions came on the days they did. To this day, I will never remember how long those moments were – if they lasted minutes, hours or days. The only thing I remember is how I felt. What I did not know was that it was pure fear, fear of the remembering and fear of the re-experiencing, as if it were the first time.
But those terrorizing moments, days, weeks, when I was in PTSD eventually passed. It was in those moments when I felt free that I began to get the clarity I needed. Those moments of clarity were the beginning of my surviving PTSD.
On the days I was clear, I talked to my doctor, and I always took the medication, but what I also did was to search for additional ways to heal. I found meditation and energy healing, practices that created a safe space for me to heal. I started to integrate these alternative modalities into my day, in addition to the steps set in place by medical professionals.
It has been over a year and a half since my last PTSD. I am well, I am free of the past, and I have moved on to a better place. I let go of the experience, I put it down as a step on my path to healing, with the intention of never seeing it again.
During the time of struggle, my family was deeply affected by my experiences and pain. They were at a loss, never knowing what to do. Emotions are contagious. When happiness is around us, we are happy, when stress or anger are close to our personal space, we feel it. When I was in PTSD, so was my family to a degree, they saw it, and they felt it even if they didn’t name it. I can remember listening to my husband on the phone, whispering to my doctor, asking questions, for which there were no real answers.
What I found in my search for true emotional and physical wellness, was that healing had to start and end with me. What I encourage family members to do is be a part of the healing plan. Start to incorporate some of the suggestions below into your life too. The fear is real in a person struggling with PTSD, and the concern of living with someone in PTSD is real, in the family members and friends, who witness and love someone through it.
True healing from PTSD is about getting the fear out of your body and out of your energy field. I am no longer taking any medication; I continue with meditation and energy healing and other alternative modalities to stay well. I strongly suggest you follow doctor’s orders while incorporating the following steps into your day-to-day plan, and hopefully, you too will find peace and wholeness.
How I healed from PTSD and how you can too:
- Connect. A connection to Source is a path to healing PTSD. The greatest healing will come with a meditation practice. Take the time to connect to a deeper part of yourself and a higher Source of power through prayer and meditation. Connect not only with yourself but with others. Make a list of people who you can call or talk to when you are struggling and reach out to them when you need to. Developing a connection, or a deeper connection with animals and nature is also very healing. Take a silent walk outdoors, keep the phone off and allow yourself to be present. Put your feet on the ground and feel rooted into the ground. If you can’t get outside, look outside and feel the beauty and peace all around.
- Awareness. Discover how you feel. Spend time alone, be contemplative, and write what you are thinking; soon you will discover why you feel the way you do. Take the time to become aware of what brings you joy. Find joy in a new activity, something you have always wanted or dreamed of doing, try something new and in the outdoors! Find something that brings you joy, like that perfect sunrise or new flower in bloom.
- Walk away. When you find yourself relieving the trauma, or are in the anxious/panic moment, imagine you are walking away from it. There is no help in reliving it or re-experiencing the event; that will do no good. Intend to put the event in your hands, the whole experience, imagine putting it on the side of the road, or in the trash can, or give it to an angel to carry away to the light, but get rid of it so you can move on without it.
- Communicate. Get yourself a small notebook, write the truth about how you feel, what you want to let go of, and keep writing. You may not know why you feel the way you do, but communicate what it is you feel, then let it go.
- Be Positive. People with PTSD can experience the sounds, the smells, the tastes, the experiences as if they are happening again at that very moment. As you heal, make a note of what positive experiences you have had. Just ask someone you love to describe the person you have become and write the words down. Somehow, I became better for having experienced the worst, and so can you.
Healing began with me by connecting to a higher power through meditation and prayer, by engaging in energy healing, and by grounding myself in nature. I became aware of my feelings, so I could recognize when it was time to walk away from the fear. I also began to communicate in ways I had never done before. And finally, I exchanged joy for fear, seeing a life free of PTSD and full of positive possibilities.
Healing from PTSD is possible – I know, because I healed. You can too!