Monday, June 1, 2009

PTSD Doesn't Heal Itself: Deciding to Seek Help

It's a new month, which means on to a new part of the BRIDGE THE GAP healing workshop! Now that we're clear on our intentions, we're talking, reaching out, and we've educated ourselves and others about PTSD, we're in the perfect position for 2009 Healing Resolution No. 6: I WILL SEEK HELP.

A word about this activity before we dive in: Seeking help is, quite possibly, the toughest part of healing. Why? Seeking help can be awkward, embarassing, frustrating, demoralizing, uncomfortable, exposing, shocking and just downright overwhelming. There's a lot to consider:

  • Who do we approach for help?
  • How do we find it?
  • How do we know what's right for us?
  • Whom do we trust?
  • How much help do we need, how often and for how long?
  • Are we strong enough?
  • Are we ready?
  • Can we do what will be required?
  • Can we bear where healing takes us?
  • Will we be safe if we let other people into our lives and heads?
There's a lot to consider when we realize we cannot heal alone. But that's OK, skepticism and apprehension are healthy and part of the healing process. We need to develop a reconnection to ourselves, our thought processes, our decision-making skills and all the other reactions and fears being a strong, proactive person brings up.

More importantly: We do need help. There's no denying it, we cannot heal alone in an oasis of fear and a mind that is stuck on the wrong backward track. In order to conquer the past and create the future we desperately need someone who can help us find and read the right map.

The day we decide we need help is not a pretty one. It means we're having such a tough time and are in such despair that we come to the conclusion we don't know what to do or how to do it. We reach a day when we are in the gutter of our minds and lives and we realize, lying there, that we're not going to be able to haul ourselves onto the curb without some major assistance. This particular thought needs to sit for a while. It needs its space before we reach out a hand to someone passing by.

And that's OK. Sometimes, we need to hang in the gutter as we gather strength to get out. We want to heal quickly, but we don't need to rush the process to the point that we can't keep up and the stress of healing itself becomes the most overwhelming sensation of every day.

So we take our time. Some days, it's enough just to sit with an idea about healing. Like today, for example, sometimes it's just enough to think about it, and then to walk around tossing the idea of help like a small ball in your hand, a tiny sphere you can hide in the curl of your fist, that no one can see but you know has a weight and a shape and will, if you bounce it, come right back to you, as the good ideas always do.

(Photo: Don Nun)


Anonymous said...

The day I decided to seek help, wasn't really like that. I've written about it, but essentially my depression was showing up as severe physical pain.

After scans and doctor's appointments, it was my chiropractor who saw what was really going on. He had the sensitivity to ask the right questions and he helped me understand I didn't have to keep going the way I had been.

Then, he also helped me find a referral. I don't think its something I would have done myself.

For a long time, I thought that I could wait out my healing, like you would with a broken bone. But, the tricky thing is, that depression and PTSD don't get better on their own. In fact, if left untreated they get worse.

Once I started getting help, I thought I was doing so well. It wasn't easy, but I think I was also trying to control my therapy sessions - letting out the obvious stuff first.

What I didn't understand was, that once you start clearing the 'surface' clutter, there's a heck of a lot more to do. Its just not so obvious, or easy to handle.

The thing about taking that healing journey is that its never what you think it will be. Its never as easy or clean, nor is it necessarily just about the 'key' issue you've sought help for.

But, it is worth it, because eventually you will remember how to live a life free of PTSD and depression.

Michele Rosenthal said...

@Svasti -- Lucky you!!! I only wish any of the 30 specialists I saw for all of my physical problems had any idea about PTSD.

Like you, I thought I could wait out my healing, too. I didn't really engage. And then I hit rock bottom and didn't have a choice.

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Linda said...

It is so true that you cannot heal alone. It takes the support of your family and friends and maybe even a therapist to help you. Speaking up about your PTSD is the best thing you can do. I personally found a lot of helpful information about PTSD at I hope this is helpful for others still coping with PTSD.