Can Symptoms of PTSD Be Healed?

question-mark3-misallphotoYears ago when I started working as a post-trauma coast my first client was a suicidal man who’d had PTSD since childhood; almost fifty years. Butch (not his real name) had been under the care of a psychiatrist and psychologist for the previous ten years, and they had him on a cocktail of three medications. Every time Butch explained that his PTSD symptoms continued to rage out of control the psychiatrist and psychologist had the same answer, “You can’t heal PTSD; you just have to learn how to live with it. We’ll increase your medication until you can better cope with symptoms.”

So, they upped and upped his dosages and kept making appointments to talk about his traumas until, completely dysfunctional, unemployed, crazy with insomnia, terrified of nightmares, and over-medicated to the point of suicidal ideation he reached out to me.

Now, I’m no miracle-worker and I can’t predict who will experience what gains in how to heal PTSD, but I do have this going for me: I believe everyone has healing potential; the goal is learning to access it.

So, armed with my professional training and buoyed by my personal belief I set about helping Butch discover how to access his resilience and personal recovery process. Through coaching, hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming — plus the dedication of working every week for two years — Butch reached an incredible place: Off all meds, sleeping through the night, free of PTSD symptoms and back engaged in living and creating a meaningful life of family, friends and work. That was several years ago. Today, it tickles and delights me every time I receive update emails from him telling me about some vacation he’s taken, or meaningful family event he’s participated in. Always he writes, “I never thought I could be this happy or feel this good!”

I know what he means. For a long time I didn’t think I could ever be happy or feel good either. But that’s the exciting thing about PTSD: You never know how or when or in what way you will make recovery gains. And when you do, the surprise is deep and meaningful and invigorating. All of which is why we have to keep slogging through the muck day after day; you just don’t know which day will be the one that starts to crack the code to your recovery.

The points:

  1. Healing can happen.
  2. Persistence is key.
  3. An openness to the process is imperative.
  4. Working with professionals who believe you can feel better is essential.
  5. You are unique; your recovery will be too.

Butch’s example is just one of many stories of survivors (including my own story of PTSD recovery) I know and/or have worked with  that shows we can come out of the darkness to truly live in the light. This is a process that happens slowly — and through much despair, uncertainty and doubt. Those things are normal given the fact that there is no direct route to feeling better.

Healing PTSD is scary; that’s a fact. HealPTSD 200Still, the opportunity to reduce and even eliminate symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder exists. It’s in our DNA, the wiring of our brain, the desire of our soul, the longing of our heart and the incredible system of our resilient body. There is no “one way” to heal. In fact, there are many ways, which is one of the reasons I wrote my new book, Heal Your PTSD: Dynamic Strategies that Work. I wanted to write about the many ways we can, on a daily basis, create an attitude, a culture, a program, a process and a healing rampage for ourselves.

Built on the foundations of science and trauma theory coupled with a strategy that uniquely customizes your own personal approach to healing, the book chunks down recovery into manageable pieces. I mean that literally: The book is full of small, easy-to-digest entries that offer one idea and one action so that you can work at healing in a way that feels comfortable and achievable.

In celebration of the book’s official release next Tuesday (it’s already available online and in bookstores everywhere) I made a short vid with two powerful answers to the question, “Can PTSD be healed?”

Here’s to you, my friend, my fellow survivor, my companion on the PTSD recovery path we all walk — at various stages and various distances — together. I believe in you….


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