Tag Archives: addiction

Someone You Know Has PTSD–and Might Not Know It

by guest blogger, Shelly Beach


“I just finished treatment for complex PTSD. Nobody      understands trauma, so I rarely talk about it.”

The woman sitting next to me on our flight from Denver to Seattle was an accountant. Confident. Self-assured. Professional. And a recovering addict who’d struggled for years with symptoms PTSD stemming from early childhood medical procedures.

It had taken her years to recognize that childhood medical procedures were at the root of the long list of symptoms that had taken her life hostage.

 

Sadly, most people don’t understand the cause-and-effect between trauma and the symptoms of PTSD and rarely seek treatment for the underlying cause.

 

The reality is that life is a series of traumas that the brain processes as either “Big T” or “little t” events, depending on a number of factors. Any event that is so threatening that it (1) overwhelms our brain, (2) triggers a reactive chemical wash that shuts down one side of the brain and causes us to “freeze” initiates the Instinctual Trauma Response (Big T trauma with potential resulting symptoms).

In the past few years, my colleague Wanda and I have met dozens of men and women suffering from PTSD who never realized before meeting us that trauma was the source of their various symptoms: hoarding, self-abuse, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hearing voices (one of the easiest symptoms to treat), eating disorders, depression, suicidal fixation, and other symptoms.

Many people who have PTSD don’t know that their symptoms aren’t the problem…

   Trauma and /PTSD are the problems, and they CAN be successfully treated.

 

This week our book Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Life was released in bookstores and online. This book addresses the desperation and despair felt by those who suffer from PTSD.

 

It gives a voice to those who often feel unfixable, hopeless, and isolated.

 

But more importantly, it offers hope. As women who have experienced PTSD, Wanda and I understand the desperation and the struggles. This is why it was critically important for us to write a book that honestly expressed the feelings of those dealing with PTSD, but also offered compassion, hope, and truth. This book also offers practical resources for family members and friends, as well as support communities, such as churches.

 

Someone you know has PTSD and may not even know it.

 

Learn what it feels like to walk in their shoes. Learn what you can do to help. And if you’re struggling, take the first step toward healing by telling a trusted friend or medical or mental health professional.

Crisis Hotlines

Grateful.

The calenLove Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness, Trauma, and the Pain of Lifedar confirms what I suspected when I woke yesterday morning: it was the official publishing date, June 1, 2014, of my first book – or any book for that matter!

Wow. No, really. WOW. WOW! How the heck did THIS happen? What the heck? Exactly WHO the HECK do I think I am?

I actually feel the urge to let myself giggle – just let that almost hysterical giggle that is bubbling up inside of me just SPILL OUT! Loudly. For a long time. I mean, who would have thought that I would be doing THIS? It really is a miracle whether you know it or not.

 

So am I. A miracle. A grateful miracle.

 

Let me cut to the chase, ok?

Not too long ago I was soul-sick and dying. Right there in front of people, I was bleeding out, gasping for an unrestrained breath, and grasping at anything that had the potential to ‘fix’ me. I needed something, anything, that would help me make it through the next moment, day or year without shooting myself or stepping out in front of an 18-wheeler barreling down the highway. 

So grateful that the God of the universe listens to His people when they pray – and that prayer really DOES change things… and PEOPLE!

 

 Love Letters from the Edge: Meditations for Those Struggling with Brokenness,
Trauma, and the Pain of Life

is the name of my book.

It’s co-authored with my friend and mentor, award-winning author Shelly Beach.

It’s not a ‘comfortable’ book because it deals with trauma.
And brokenness. And doubt. And hard questions.

 

But the name of the book speaks of love letters because after women give voice to the pain, lament and trauma of their life – God responds with words of TRUTH and LOVE. He speaks words of a Father who loves His children… most especially the wounded, sick and broken among us. He writes a love letter in response to our pain and questions – and still calls us His very own and continues to love us more than anyone ever will.

If you know someone who is struggling to ‘get it right’, but no matter what she does or how many promises she makes, she just can’t stop doing the things that harm her and cause her to walk in shame, she needs to know that there is HOPE. HOPE for wholeness and healing.

Hope for a good life when trauma, not symptoms, are processed.


Hope. Because there is God.

 

Check it out at www.LoveLettersFromtheEdge.com

 

Broken Places: A View From the Other Side (Part 4 of 5)

And in that first phone conversation she wasn’t ready to tell me.

But whether implicitly or explicitly, one thing Wanda told me in our first conversation was that she was divesting of her possessions and giving them to the people she loved.

She had stopped working in an office with people she’d worked with for a decade – to live and work alone at home. Her family even called her “the hermit.”

She was terrorized by nightmares and flashbacks. Symptoms she’d suffered with for years were escalating.

And coping mechanisms that had helped her control
the pain of PTSD were no longer working.

Wanda believed she was broken beyond repair. But it was easy for me to see that everything about her made sense–that from the time she was a child, she had created a way to cope with the pain of her life. But the coping mechanisms were failing. They ALWAYS do.

The problem was, she’d already tried drug rehab programs, eating disorder clinics, counseling, therapy, and cried out to God for years for healing. She believed she was “unfixable.” And she’d had friends for ten years who had never seen her face and who only knew her through Internet relationships.

I wasn’t sure of anything – except one thing: God. I WAS sure that He is who He says He is… and that He loved Wanda more than any of us ever could. And that He was reaching out to her through… me!

In spite of all the efforts Wanda had made to address her PTSD, I believed Intensive Trauma Therapy in Morgantown, WV could help her. And not only help her, give her back her life. I believed God had put Wanda’s name in my head, picked three songs that told her story, and urged me to call her. Then a week before I called her, he made sure I knew about Allen, a young man who was healed of a lifetime of  struggle with PTSD at Intensive Trauma Therapy in just five days of outpatient treatment.

I figured God had set everything up in the first place,

and He had the details all figured out.

 

During that first visit, Wanda and I went to a public park and completed the intake forms for Intensive Trauma Therapy. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty.

To be continued…

Broken Places, Part 2

woman-with-head-in-hands.2

The darkness. The compulsion to die. I couldn’t shake the obsession… no matter what I did.

I prayed.  I read the Bible.  I ate. I ate more.  I got high. And tried to get higher each time I used. I got numb. I zoned out.

For months, my prayers had been short and to the point: 

“HELP!”

Even though I was emotionally numb, I was also in intense emotional pain, and that confused me even more. In order to simply move through my days, I had to “go away.”

 

Moments ran into moments ran into minutes ran into hours ran
into days ran into weeks ran into months ran into years.

 

And no matter what I did, I was drowning under the crushing feeling of hopelessness. I didn’t feel that I had one single reason to be alive. I was loved, I knew that. I had a wonderful family, immediate and extended, and they loved me. But that means nothing when all you feel is a deficit of hope. I felt a bottomless emptiness.

 

At the end, I was constantly battling to simply stay alive. I was battling NOT to swallow a handful of pills. I was battling NOT to blow my brains out. I was battling NOT to drive over a cliff or step off the curb into the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler. 

 

I was exhausted from the never-ending battle. Nightmares were a regular occurrence, so I stopped sleeping.

 

I was nearing fifty, and nothing I was doing was working anymore. All of my coping mechanisms, unhealthy and/or dangerous, were failing me. The darkness pushed me into a corner. I felt like I had to remind myself to merely take a breath.

 

 I was in trouble, and if I was going to live, I needed help.

 

Enter Intensive Trauma Treatment… 

(to be continued)

Broken Places, Part 1

broken-mirror001I’m a survivor of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For over four decades, I struggled to find a way to live my life looking like I was doing great. And most of the time I did that successfully. I was the executive producer of the longest-running conservative talk show in one of the top five markets in the country. I had a comfortable savings account and traveled when and where I wanted. I was the eldest of a large clan of siblings–none of whom had the slightest idea of the emotional minefield I was tiptoeing through every single hour of every single day.

 

Broken places.

 

I had plenty of them…and I just didn’t know HOW or WHERE to get help, I didn’t know how to ASK for help.

 

But I did. Everyday. In my prayers. I prayed the shortest prayer in history:

 

“Dear God, HELP!!!!! Amen.”

 

 

The dark times and my addictions kept me hidden from most people. I was privileged to have a job that allowed me to work from anywhere in the world as long as I had an internet connection. There were weeks when I didn’t see another human being–even loved ones I was connected to.

 

Because of the narrowness of my world, I kept giving everyone around me the ol’ heave ho, and things continued closing in on me until I was living almost constantly in survival mode – emotionally and physically. I felt ashamed and guilty. In my eyes, I was a failure, unworthy to be alive. No matter who my famous friends were or how great my job was or how awesome my family was, I simply wanted to die.

Broken places.

 

                                 I knew I was broken.

 

                                                                               Really broken. 

                                         And I didn’t believe I was fixable.

 

 

I’d tried EVERYTHING over the years.Multiple residential drug treatment programs. Residential eating disorder units. I think I single-handedly supported the families of at least a couple of therapists/counselors over a period of years.

 

 At the end, right before I entered intensive trauma treatment, I was pretty clear on the fact that something was horribly wrong with me and that I was in deep, deep trouble.

 

Little did I know that God was about to answer my prayer.

(to be continued…)