Foot Soldiers –PTSD

December 29, 2012

I was watching a morning news program today and there was a segment called “Foot Soldiers” where they talked about several people making a difference in the Community.  One of the people spotlighted was a young female who was using her photographic talents to take pictures of young girls who had been raped.  Each of these girls was holding a cardboard sign with the words the rapist had used while raping them, written in bold letters.  When asked why the photographer had done this, she said that it was freeing for the girls to finally get these terrible words from their minds and out into the public.  “It is  a release for each one of them” stated the photographer.  This is the same thing that traumatized PTSD people have.  Each victim assumes that they must keep their painful secrets hidden from others, that others will not understand.

This is a general problem not only for rape victims but of all those who have experienced a PTSD event, including rape victims.  The photographers claim that voicing the pain is an important first step in healing.  My wife, a psychologist, says that this is called bearing witness to the pain.  It may be debatable about doing it once and having results though.  In my case, I had to keep exploring different facets of my feelings.  Things would remind me of the experience and I would, in some cases, not even know why.  I kept trying to understand what I was feeling and why I went back to my diary and wrote of what was going on, I became a bit clearer and more wise about how I was being affected.

I wish I could say that the healing was some blinding flash of light of revelation but it was not.  It was a slow and arduous day to day exploration.  Every day became a bit easier and, in some cases, I would get the “Aha” moment but mostly it just seemed I got clearer about things.  I would liken it to adjusting the lens of a camera.  It would stay clear for a bit then get fuzzy again and I would readjust the lens again.  My clearness started lasting longer and longer with less adjustments but I kept writing.  I could start to see that my PTSD episodes were becoming fewer and further between which to me was what I was after in the first place.

Even now, 40 years or more later, I still get the occasional disturbing PTSD dream which need to be examined but I am completely okay with sitting down with myself for a bit and post.  I have indicated that I am now working on a volunteer basis with the Veterans Administration.    Some of the people coming in served in Vietnam and are coming in for the first time.  I asked one recently why it took so long to come in and he responded that this was actually the fourth time that he had to the VA.  I said that the records indicated that this was his first time and he said the other three times he hadn’t actually come in.  He had sat in the parking lot and then went home with talking with anyone.   I’ve talked with several of the Social Workers at the office who said this in not at all uncommon.

Doesn’t the old  saying go, “The longest journey begins with the first step”?   Starting to cure yourself starts with the first step.  Posting at this PTSD blog is probably the easiest one you will find.  You can say as little as you choose or as much.  You can come back as often as you like.  No one will correct, judge or criticize what you say or and how you choose to say it.  The only caveat that we have is that this is not a place to sell your goods or services nor to try and convert someone into some religious denomination.  Otherwise, you are free to say what you will and it still costs you nothing.  Our hope is that the more people who visit and share their PTSD feelings, will not only help them but also help other PTSD sufferers as well.