I found this article written about our servicemen and women and wanted to share it. There is not a lot of public awareness of what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) looks like. People who suffer from PTSD do not feel like their regular selfs. I treat PTSD everyday in my office. I utilize the treatment modality called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR can take away the emotional charge traumatized individuals experience from the trauamatizing event and return them back to feeling ‘normal’ again. One point I wanted to reiterate from the article is the fact that trauma work takes energy and time. It is an investment in yourself, but once completed you will know it was well worth it. In the article Tracy Strecker P.h.D states that there is not cure. I tend to disagree on this statement, as I have witnessed EMDR take away the emotional charge from a traumatic event and report feeling “lighter” as the event is not longer weighing them down in their life. EMDR has also helped take away flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, hyperarousal, and decreased congitive functioning as a result of PTSD. Please read below and feel free to share any of your thoughts.
How war veterans – and the rest of us – heal from trauma
Post-traumatic stress among our military personnel
Published on July 22, 2011 by Tracy Strecker P.h.D in Survivors
Two years ago, a military nurse who deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan tried to kill himself for the first time. Since then, he has has three suicide attempts, has lost his livlihood and experiences extreme anxiety at the idea os stepping foot inside a hospital because of traumatic experience in a warzone. He has still not gotten any help. His trauma wasn’t watching people die, not even when they were young children. It wasn’t even about watching a physician make a split second decision about whether or not a certain serviceman would keep his leg. What bothered him was when his best friend told him that their CO (commanding officer) raped her. He screamed, “I’m going to kick his ass!” He turned away from her and took two steps toward the door. And he heard a blast from a gun. He froze as others came running to help her, although she did not survive the blast to her chest. She killed herself.
He is haunted by each of these choices. His scream, his turning away from her, his steps, and his paralysis as she died.
How did this serviceman heal from this traumatic event? He hasn’t. He is suffering, as are many of our military personnel. When he is asked about healing he responds that he believes in order to achieve healing certain aspects of the situation need balance (ie., CO should be disciplined, her family needs to respond differently).
This story is not a unique story. Many of our military personnel experienced trauma at war that has little to do with “war.” The war stories are just as bad, yet in some ways these are the stories one expects to hear about trauma and war.
I heard a three star Army General recently state: “If you put in 25 years in these boots, you are going to come back broken.” He says that the military needs to stop the “suck it up” philosophy and recognize that seeking help is the most courageous thing a person can do.
My goal for this first entry about our servicemen and women healing from trauma is to point out that healing from traumatic events takes energy and time. There is no medicine or statement that will flick the switch. Most of the military personnel that I talk to with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) talk about how their lives changed when they experienced the event. Their experience of their own ‘self’ changed. The way they view the world and others and self changed. From one event. It is difficult for persons with PTSD to feel at ease in the world. Common complaints revolve around sleeping problems (re-experiencing symptoms), feeling distant from others (numbing symptoms), being on guard problems (hyperarousal symptoms). There are treatments for PTSD and evidence-based treatments can work. There is no cure. Like the General said, the most courageous thing a person can do is ask for help.
There are many among us suffering from trauma. They should not be forgotten. Help them.