June 7, 2012

PTSD: Get Over It

Ever been told to get past it? Or told to get over it and can't?

I wouldn't ask you to beat your noggin against that wall, my head hurts just thinking about it. But, working through it; that won't be as difficult. Our language says much. "Getting past it" or "getting over it" suggests it's something to be pushed aside or to get around all at once. To work through suggests that it can be managed, one trauma at a time, and one therapy session at at time. Outside of therapy you can start by learning from others who have been in your shoes through online social media sites; Facebook is an excellent tool to network Additionally I suggest learning coping skills, guided imagery to lessen anxiety, becoming familiar with your triggers, and mindfulness of thoughts and feelings to help process. Grounding techniques such as putting a rock in your pocket can help ease anxiety along with learning to pray and meditate. Journaling is a tremendous instrument in purging and self reflection, a tactile sensory expression of our experiences allowing differing perspectives on ourselves.

Becoming the person we are meant to be can only happen by accepting who we are and what we have done and has happened to us. Through acceptance we make traumatization a part of, rather than apart from us. This integration of the rejected parts of ourselves begins the healing, thus giving us the sense of moving on. By accepting my self as a warrior, I was able to quail the hot thirst for violence. The initial six years of therapy concerned my history before and after the war, not the actual combat which started a year ago. It's been 20 years of looking in the mirror and hating my gaze so it's time to deal with the core kernel captivating my subconscious. I have found the level of my isolation to be a function of my inability to trust myself; the fear of not being able to maintain my sanity once out the door. The hallucinations have less power at home in my cocoon.

Learn your triggers, read up on your condition and brush up on coping skills to increase your ability to navigate society without setting off your personal landmines every time you walk out the door. We developed a Defensive State of Mind and everything is filtered through defensive mechanisms of one kind or another. The power and strength of the dissociative features of Combat PTSD include and not limited to hallucinations, fugues, delusions and flashbacks can be diminished by accepting them as they come; a this too shall pass mantra. It feels as though what we face today is worse than combat, but that is a delusion we have because PTSD would feel normal in combat and reason we are uncomfortable in society today. By examining our thoughts and feelings we begin too see they do not have to become us, we begin to regain the ability to choose the thoughts in which we act upon. When we are having a PTSD moment we are at risk due to our inability to trust any of our senses completely, including our rationality. Triggers can conjure past sensations leading to physical sensations that match our traumas from the past and trip us up in reality today. A great grounding technique is to take cues from people around you, have a code word for your friends and loved ones to tell them your mind is tripping, hallucinating or highly delusional. Now you have a squad again! You will be better prepared, just like you were outside the wire over there.

Finding an Empathetic Mental Health Practitioner Requires a Willingness to Open Up in Therapy. Ha, that's funny coming from me. My latest therapist, she's no fool, told me I test everyone. I was flabbergasted, she was absolutely right and I had found a therapist who can see through my crap and call me on it; check. Time to move on into the real meat of my problem. Combat. So Veteran, buckle your chin strap. You probably need medication, a therapist, a psychiatrist, and maybe a psychologist. Quite possibly an inpatient stay at a PTSD treatment center to get an emotional inoculation before moving into therapy. All this can be a foundation to recovery if you are willing to take the risk. The longer you wait to receive treatment the higher the chance of developing chronic or complex PTSD or becoming a statistic.

This ain't no picture movie I'm talking about, it's your life. It may appear as a moving picture reel passing you by after the magnificent glow of war, that nothing will ever compare again. And it won't, until you get into treatment.


  1. I commend your realistic write up. Your observation is correct that, "Getting past it" or "getting over it" suggests it's something to be pushed aside.... (but rather) To work through suggests that it can be managed, one trauma at a time." I didn't want to revisit my traumas, but I found that with a spiritual therapist that helped me to see Jesus Christ being with me in the trauma, made a huge difference and opened up a gateway for healing that was more complete or holistic than simple cognitive therapy. Right on, buddy!

    1. One of the visualization techniques during an inpatient stay was to see myself walking through my mindscape which of coarse was the battlefield. But, along the way it was ok to pick up one item that seemed the brightest and carry it out with me. By doing this I give myself permission to look at it without having to weigh everything at once.

  2. my husband has been to 2 inpatient facilities...one outpatient...I do firmly agree with you and want so much for my husband to get to that place you have found...but I have realized...he has to get there and I cannot make him. I cannot push him, I cannot do anything until he's ready. He has all sorts of docs...and still not enough....just makes me so mad that war has such an effect on us here too...and all we can do is live one day at a time and try our best....I really hope my husband gets where you are:)

    1. You cannot do it for him, no. I still struggle most days, but through time and support you can both find healing as I have. You are included in my prayers.


Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee