PTSD Recovery Includes Recreating Basic Self-Concepts

2040577615_d11399de53_zI have written several times that I did not discover until 2010 that I suffered from PTSD since I was a child. I realized this in 2010 when I read a story about a PTSD sufferer, Travis Twiggs,  and the fact that he suffered from “social isolation”. I remember my mother telling me that I had no friends. That wasn’t true but it was true that I chose to have few friends. I never understood why I continued to feel separate and different even after 34 continuous years of sobriety. PTSD taught me how to freeze my feelings and lower my expectations of how full life could be. By learning to compartmentalize experiences, I could keep life on a shelf, so to speak.

In the past year, I have begun letting all parts of me come together and I feel so blessed and grateful. I have three mental illnesses–alcoholism (recovery date Nov/ 24, 1976), depression (has been in remission since 1992), and now PTSD. I always knew that the addictions were the Band-Aid over the wound. But I thought the wound was depression. Instead I now know that the wound was PTSD.

I scan over 100 blogs in and am so thankful for the brave souls who write about their recovery experiences.

1. In her blog, Being Sober, Mary Christine writes: “June 7” :

“It was 30 years ago that I was raped. If you would have told me then that I would still have this date engraved in my soul thirty years later, I would not have believed it. But my life was irrevocably changed that night. (I wrote about it in depth here.)”

“Two years ago I was suffering terribly from PTSD from the rape and underwent therapy for it. It was immensely helpful. And just sitting here tonight, about to go to bed, I am brought to tears remembering. I was asked to name a “safe place” before we began the therapy. I thought it was lame, but the best safe place I could come up with was my own bedroom. My own bed. In all of its glorious whiteness, the crisp white sheets, the white duvet, the white duvet cover, all bleached, ironed, and starched. The window open and the sheers floating on a warm breeze.”

“This is exactly the safe place that I get to fall into in a moment. This is no dream. This is my reality today. I have a safe place to lay my head.”

“And if you are an alcoholic woman, you may know what a miracle this is.”

“God has blessed me so abundantly. I am so grateful to be sober. I am so grateful for the beautiful life I have today.”

2.  In the LA Times, Steve Lopez writes about “ACLU’s lawsuit against the V is a step in vet’s recovery” :

“Combat veteran Greg Valentini slept in Wednesday morning in Hollywood, the day he sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Actually, Valentini didn’t file the suit himself, and he was only one of four plaintiffs in what could become a class-action case. The ACLU of Southern California argues in the suit that the VA has mismanaged and underutilized its sprawling West Los Angeles campus even as mentally impaired homeless vets sleep on the city’s streets.”

“If there’s money to wage two wars, there ought to be money to restore abandoned medical buildings at the VA and fill them with some of the estimated 8,200 homeless veterans in Greater Los Angeles, as well as provide them the rehab services they need. That’s how the ACLU’s Mark Rosenbaum described the thinking behind the lawsuit to me this week.”

“As the suit notes, the VA campus has enough space for private companies to store buses and rental cars and for a hotel laundry facility, but no permanent housing for veterans, even though the property was deeded to the government more than 100 years ago specifically to house veterans.

“As for Valentini, his involvement in the lawsuit came as a surprise to me, even though I’ve been shadowing him for several months in a series of columns about his efforts to rehabilitate himself. He told me he was sworn to secrecy until the suit was filed.”

“On Wednesday morning I visited him at the Hollywood rehab center where he has lived since last August along with a few dozen other veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Valentini, 33, hadn’t seen the lawsuit, so I delivered a copy.”

“Valentini, who grew up in Lakewood, wasn’t entirely comfortable being named in the suit. He doesn’t enjoy reviewing the harrowing details of his combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and his later descent into suicidal fantasies, homelessness and drug addiction. But he was willing if it would help others.”

3. A message of hope from one of the best PTSD survivors, Michele Rosenthal, on her blog Heal My PTSD writes about “PTSD Success Story: Finding the Window to Freedom” :

“A very exciting event occurred recently: One of my clients had his final session with me and is now off to live a life that is free of PTSD symptoms. That’s right, free.”

“The day any of us reaches the end of the healing part of our journey is a cause for celebration; this story particularly moves me because the psychiatrist and psychologist involved in this case said it couldn’t be done. They believed this client couldn’t heal based on their assessment of the fact that PTSD had set in at a very early age due to chronic and horrific child abuse. They had tried for years to help this client move forward, all to no avail. He was heading into middle age and they had told him just to learn to live with it.”

“While it may be true that C-PTSD is more of a challenge to heal, I never lost hope.  The journey was not easy but my client hung in there. We believed in each other and felt that together we could reach his PTSD recovery goals.”

“It has taken us almost 2 years to get to where we are today. Through a combination of coaching, hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming he has been able to:

  • establish a sense of safety
  • process and release grief
  • resolve issues of anger
  • integrate the trauma
  • reconnect to himself in important and meaningful ways
  • reclaim his identity as a worthy, lovable human being
  • put in place necessary boundaries with family and friends
  • reassess and reframe the past
  • re-envision the present
  • begin constructing the future
  • stop all medications
  • sleep through the night
  • take back control of his life
  • resolve all symptoms of posttraumatic stress
  • feel happy, strong, empowered and good about himself

“I’m sharing this story with you for one reason: You must always have hope. Find someone you believe in to work with. Stay determined and committed to your ultimate recovery.”

“It’s easy to lose faith. The road to posttraumatic stress syndrome recovery is long and hard-fought, but it is worth it. You have enormous healing potential. The goal is learning to access it. Keep seeking that stairway that leads to your window of freedom.”

Photo credit.

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