For those who have suffered from traumatic experiences and are left with the damaging and overwhelming effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD recovery is possible.
Trauma survivors who suffer from PTSD can often become stuck with problematic behaviors when the person’s pain is not acknowledged, heard, respected, and understood. Denial can play a huge role (convincing themselves that the traumatic event didn’t happen or that it should not affect them) and survivors can become and stay trapped when other forms of secondary wounds come into play, such as being put down by those around them or having their pain dismissed.
The first and most important thing to know is that not only it is completely normal to be affected by trauma, but that help is available. PTSD is not at all unusual or rare, and having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of a traumatic experience does not make a person weak. Asking for help takes courage.
UNDERSTANDING THE PTSD RECOVERY PROCESS
PTSD recovery is a slow process which doesn’t come easily or painlessly. The survivor must be heard, feel understood, and reconnect to a community.
The basic and general steps of a PTSD recovery program provide helpful guidelines. They include: being in an environment that is both physically and emotionally safe, getting treatment for addictive behaviors, being met with patience (PTSD recovery takes time), forming caring attachments, restoring a sense of mastery, having the room for rest and relaxation, recalling the traumatic event or events in small steps, gradually assimilating painful feelings and memories, fully experiencing fear, anger, shame, guilt and depression and finally a person must be able to safely grieve one’s losses.
It is perfectly normal for a person to be affected by the trauma they have experienced, but it does not mean that the aftermath has to leave the person forever damaged. PTSD recovery is about healing one’s life. Yes, trauma will leave a person scarred, but what a person will find in PTSD recovery is that they will also know what to do if the pain comes up again.
There is no rush in PTSD recovery. Recovery is based on acceptance. A person understanding that they have been traumatized and accepting that it did affect them is the first step. PTSD symptoms – such as numbing, hypervigilance or reexperiencing – are warning signs that it is time to seek help. At one time these coping mechanisms helped the person suffering from PTSD survive, but eventually these same defenses become problematic – and they don’t go away on their own. Instead they warp and become both ineffective and a source of unvarying pain. The great news is that it is possible to change.
The first principle of PTSD recovery is that it is perfectly okay to be in pain. If a trauma survivor is in pain, they must be honest about being in pain in order to begin the process of recovering from their PTSD. Since the person clearly survived the pain of the actual trauma, they must understand that they can also survive the memories. In order to garner an understanding of PTSD recovery, however, the person does need to know at least a part of what they have survived in order to reconnect their feelings to those events and mourn their losses.
It is important for trauma survivors to not only be treated with respect but to learn to treat themselves with respect and for them to respect their experiences and their problems. Their PTSD symptoms are circumstantial evidence that they’ve been through a lot. Many trauma survivors minimize the effects of what they’ve been through and then wind up resenting people for not respecting their pain. This is also normal, but it’s not very effective.
For many years, 12-step programs were the only available help to trauma survivors who self-medicated by abusing alcohol or drugs. Thousands of veterans, rape, incest and domestic violence survivors and others have dealt with PTSD by going to Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and other 12-step programs.
The 12-step programs are still a fundamental part of PTSD recovery today, and essential for trauma survivors who have turned to drugs and alcohol to cope, but there is also more intensive help to go hand-in-hand with the recovery process. Entering into an individualized recovery home that includes EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Cognitive Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brief Psychodynamic Therapy, Family Therapy and Group Therapy, among other types of therapy, is an important option that is being exercised more and more each day. The problem is that not many of these homes are what they claim to be.
Safe Harbor Treatment Center for women is exactly what it claims to be – a safe haven for those who have suffered from traumatic experiences in their past. Safe Harbor puts endless resources at the fingertips of women looking for relief and freedom from the bondage of self and a real solution to their issues associated with their traumatic pasts.
It takes time to get better and getting better is the reward for taking the time to recover. Unfortunately, survivors of traumatic experiences are often told, “It’s in the past. Forget about it and get on with your life.” If it were only that simple, they would have done so. The truth of the matter is that a person can heal from their original trauma, and they can heal from the PTSD conditions that have plagued them since the trauma was first experienced.
For those who are looking for a program that is focused on PTSD recovery, it is important for them to know they are not alone. A person cannot heal if they are not allowed to feel. Safe Harbor Treatment Center for women can help. It is ok to ask for help.