Saturday, December 27, 2008

How to Heal PTSD: A Guide for Healing in 2009

The countdown to 2009 IS ON! And the question is, What are you going to do to make 2009 a better PTSD year than 2008?

In 2009 I’ll be adding some weekly features to support you in this goal. They will include prescriptive and proactive healing measures. Designed to build throughout the year, these BRIDGE THE GAP tips, ideas, and activities will structure a healing process to supplement whatever you’re already doing. Whether you’re in therapy or out, on medication or off, you can implement this BRIDGE THE GAP process to further explore, examine and progress your path to wellness.

We can begin the process with a New Year Resolution, which can help focus your intention on healing. I know this from experience. Two years ago on New Years Eve 2007 I made a resolution that I was going to kick PTSD in the upcoming year. And I did it, which means you can, too. After more than 25 horrible PTSD years I decided to find a way to end all of the nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, etc. ALL OF IT. I’d had enough. It took me the full year, but I achieved wellness just within the 2008 deadline.

We can't approach PTSD healing as if it can or must be done quickly. A full year is not a bad timeframe in which to consider shedding our PTSD identity and getting on with our lives as someone else. I got together with Holly, a colleague, this week to talk about PTSD support groups. We're about to start one in our local area. Holly is a family counseling therapist and made this interesting statement, "It's important for anyone healing from trauma not to see him or herself as a victim. You are not 'a victim of abuse'; you are 'dealing with the aftermath of abuse'. The difference is that the first label covers the whole person for a limitless time; the second applies to only a part of the person for a limited period of time." And now, it's time for that limited period to end. Healing can be a slow process, but it must be one that does progress. Over the next 4 days let's get focused.

To begin today, take some time to think about what you would like to change about your PTSD experience in 2009. Did I hear you say, Everything! Yeah, believe me, I know. But that’s not good enough. When we want to make a change, we need to be specific. We need to be clear in our intention. Remember I recently wrote about the importance of intention? Now is the time to make it count!

In order to make your intentions fully weighted, it helps to think in specifics. To really focus yourself toward PTSD healing, make some lists so that you are fully aware of PTSD and all its manifestations in your life – not just in the fog of coping with it, but in knowing, recognizing and understanding its impact.

For example, make a list of:

1. all your PTSD symptoms

2. all the reasons you hate PTSD

3. all the reasons you want to hold onto PTSD; all the benefits you see in keeping it

4. all the ways PTSD gets in the way of living a full, happy life

5. all the things you would/could do if PTSD was no longer a part of your life.

Really take some time to get these lists fleshed out. See if you can do a Top 5 or Top 10 outline for each. Tomorrow I’m going to post about designing New Year Resolutions; the more details we have to work with the easier crafting a reasonable Healing PTSD Resolution will be.

(photo: swiv)

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