Writing and PTSD

November 30, 2011

Someone asked me how writing can help a PTSD sufferer or their PTSD spouse so I thought I would take one post to spend some time on this issue.  I stumbled upon this writing by accident.  I returned from Vietnam and I was a mess.  I was drinking more than I should and I knew things were not right with me.  I was trying to find my way back to normal but no matter how I tried or what I did I realized I wasn’t the same as when I left.  I was irritable, overly sensitive, and I was having difficulty sleeping.  I honestly didn’t even know about PTSD or I would have perhaps approached things differently.

No one in my family or no one that I knew had ever consulted a Psychologist and it wasn’t something that I even considered.  I was going to tough it out.  I didn’t have anyone that I felt comfortable talking to about my feelings.  I had no steady person that I was dating and since I had just returned home from being away for a year I really had few close contacts.  My friends didn’t want to hear my story since they all had problems of their own.  My family was out of the question.  Not to say that they weren’t loving but this was not the kind of thing I talked about with my mother, father or sisters.  Since I had left the military and at the time jobless, I had no one at work that I could talk to either.

I have mentioned before that I was raised a Catholic and I can remember going to my First Confession where you are required to examine your conscience and then tell your sins to a priest.  This is the precursor to First Holy Communion where supposedly you receive the body of Christ through the communion.  This will be my last religious advertisement, I will admit that as a young boy when I came out of that confessional, for the first time, I actually felt lighter.  The letting go of these guilts or burdons was a relief!.  It may sound silly but that’s the way I felt. The same thing happened, although not quite so dramatic, when I would write my PTSD feelings down. I just seemed to be a bit better when I would write. Not quite so dramatically but I kept at it and would try to write something every day.  Things that I had experienced, guilts about what I had done, dreams I was having.  I wrote and rewrote everything and it made me feel better.  It was easy to do and after time I needed to write lesss and less and that was OK too.

I believe the same thing will help others.  Not only the PTSD sufferer but all those around him/her as well.  Writing should not be considered a substitute for therapy because it simply is not.  A trained mental health professional would be the ideal for anyone.  However, there are a lot of reasons why the health care professional needs support.  That is where the Military PTSD Forum site comes in.  Maybe you are not able to afford the cost of therapy, maybe the therapist is not conveniently located, or the therapist is on vacation or you are on vacation and any other reason, remember that you are as close as your computer to reaching us.  We are never closed and your story needs to be told.