PTSD Despair – the Conclusion

Today, we conclude the post about PTSD despair. Yesterday, we ended with me saying I wanted to share my experience of what was happening at the end, when I was praying to die. Here’s what was going on for me.

I had been in a state of decreased energy, of lethargy, for weeks, feeling that my abusive past had occurred only to make my life miserable. Other than that, there was no purpose to it, there was no purpose to me, to my life. This was my state-of-mind at about five years of sobriety. One day, I was at a group meeting for that sobriety, and a man shared about the difficulties he was experiencing from his childhood that were affecting him today. It sounded like what I had been through, but I was a few steps ahead of him in the process of healing. So, I went up after the meeting and began to talk with him.

I first asked him for permission to share some things with him. After he said yes, I related to his experience by relaying some of what I had been through. Then I began to talk of the books I had read that had been helpful with the symptoms of abused people, such as Claudia Black, Alice Miller, John Bradshaw, books that had helped with my healing. I relayed how wondrous my therapist was in dealing with recovery issues, both for my alcoholism and my abusive past and the characteristics I was displaying, and was able to give him her number.

What I had to say was useful to him – I could see it in his face, in his eyes. He was so grateful for the information, he almost cried. As I walked back to my car, I realized in a flash that I DID have purpose, my abusive past WAS for a reason. That reason was to help others who were dealing with what I had overcome, even if I was just two steps in front of them in a couple areas. If I had not endured the abuse, I never would have been able to offer him anything. Therefore, my abuse had a purpose.

I had a purpose. From that point, I realized my purpose in life was to connect with people who were suffering emotionally, and relay the things that had helped me, so that the information could be of use to them.

In your case, with PTSD, let’s say you are a veteran, reliving the trauma you experienced, the terror, living in anger over the grief of premature deaths you witnessed, dealing with the guilt that somehow you could have prevented it. You are living a nightmare, and, yet, I invite you to take action to get out of the place where you currently are. Here is what I invite you to try. It worked for me.

Seek assistance from a qualified therapist, versed in PTSD issues. They exist at VA medical centers, if you are a vet, and interviewing a potential therapist about their experiences with PTSD treatment will help guide you in the right direction in selecting a well-versed therapist. I looked for a therapist that was versed in alcohol recovery and who knew the effects and treatment for being an abused child, for example, because at the time, I had not been diagnosed with PTSD.

After you select a therapist, ask about the use of EMDR, or get that yourself. It was roughly $100 a session and I needed three. I would imagine the VA centers have someone available to do it or could refer you. Do some reflection about your feelings of despair, your lack of purpose in the world, your guilts, your grief… writing, journalling was extremely helpful to me to get feelings out, and especially because I wrote with my left, non-dominant hand.  They say that writing with the non-dominant hand brings forth new information from the other side of the brain, and it stimulates you with deeper thoughts. I invite you to try it.

I invite you to stop drinking, if you are doing so. The liquor fuels the symptoms that you are experiencing, especially the anger. I know it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in the middle of it. But your world remains very small while you are drinking, filled with resentments and bitterness, guilt and remorse. You look for relief for these things in the alcohol, yet you will never find them there. It is in the absence of alcohol that you will find relief. There are many resources to help you stop drinking that are listed in the yellow pages, or on the internet. For me personally, I found getting sober to be the beginning of the process that has allowed me to find the peace I looked for in alcohol and drugs. I invite you in from the cold. 🙂

Finally, I’d like to invite you to look at the cause of your PTSD despair, and discover how that experience, the experience over which you despair, can be useful to another if you were to share with them your experience and what one, maybe two, steps you’ve taken to heal. All you have to be is two steps ahead of them in the healing process. I cannot describe the way my heart soared to know I had been of use to another and I invite you to experience it also.

I hope these two posts have been useful for you. I wish you well in your journey. May you have peace.

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PTSD Despair – the Beginning

Yesterday, there were two searches for PTSD despair, most likely the same person, yet I want to address it today and relate it to sobriety. I am thinking that whoever searched, was referring to the despair they feel because of their PTSD. So, let’s address this.

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. According to all the information I have read, and based on my personal experience with PTSD, it is comprised of three categories of symptoms:

  • re-experiencing the traumas through flashbacks, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts about the trauma;
  • avoidance symptoms such as feeling numb, strong guilt, depression, or worry, avoidance of people and places that remind of the event, losing interest in once-enjoyable activities; and
  • hyperarousal, being on edge, getting angry easily, being easily startled.

You may be dealing with these symptoms as a result of recent trauma, or even years after an event that was traumatic for you. Or, you may be a veteran, dealing with either the long-term effects, or from the effects of recently being in service. If you are dealing with these symptoms and have not been diagnosed with PTSD, I gently invite you to seek assistance from a qualified therapist or someone at a VA Medical Center. There is great strength and courage demonstrated in the act of asking for help. For those of you long-term sufferers getting help, good for you! I applaud your efforts.

From my own perspective about PTSD and despair, I was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of about 53, and had been dealing with it since childhood, as a result of the trauma I endured and witnessed. I experienced all of the above symptoms, and I easily went to depression and despair. When I say despair, I am referring to the feelings that nothing is okay, in fact, everything is useless and there is no purpose in living. There is no hope.

In my case, I got to the point that I was praying to die because I was too scared to commit suicide. My anger had long-since been turned inward and it appeared in my life as major depression. I was a walking mess, feeling emotionally aweful. Fueled by my bitterness and under-lying anger at just about everything, I drank heavily, which only added to the flames. I felt there was no purpose in the events of childhood that had led me to misery in life. I had no purpose in life, no reason to be living.

Can you relate? if you are dealing with PTSD despair. I am thinking you are at the very hopeless stage. If this is the case, my heart goes out to you because I know how badly it sucks. Please know, however, that there is another side, another possibility. There is hope.

Hope came for me in the form of EMDR, a rapid-eye movement that retrains the pathways in the brain to lessen the effects of the trauma. With three of these treatments, my symptoms began to decrease, and even though some despair remained, I could see that there were possibilities to get out of the hole I was in. The despair was resolved in an instant, however, when I experienced the power of helping another, being of service to another.

And I’m going to address that tomorrow, because this post got to be well over 1000 words, so I decided to make it into two blogs. Tomorrow when I join you, I will be sharing my experience with you in the hopes that you may gain something from it that is of use to you.

I wish to acknowledge your pain by saying, yes, it is a very difficult place to be. I feel for you. You have great courage to face it and I invite you to keep putting one step in front of the other, doing the next thing that comes along your path to do. Writing in a journal with stream-of-consciousness writing works well. That’s where you write whatever comes into your head, in whatever order. It is very cathartic.

Join me tomorrow for the conclusion of PTSD despair. Until then, remember, hang in there. You never know when things are going to change around suddenly. Don’t leave before the miracle.

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