PTSD Recovery Tip of the Month: Write It Out

Research proves that writing is enormously therapeutic. Consider this: “When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable. Individuals may see improvements in what is called “working memory,” essentially our ability to think about more than one thing at a time. They may also find they’re better able to sleep. Their social connections may improve, partly because they have a greater ability to focus on someone besides themselves.”

I’d be happy with those results, wouldn’t you? And the cool thing is, you don’t have to be a ‘writer’ to see the benefits. Sure, you can write fiction, poetry or non-fiction, but the results also come from writing a letter, an email, or just a long stream of consciousness ramble. The ‘cure’ is in the act of writing, regardless of the form.

PTSD Recovery Tip of the Month

As yourself this question: What’s really bothering me?

And then write out the answer, in whatever form it takes. In addition to the benefits quoted above, there’s another little thing that’s helpful: writing leads to clarity. The more clarity you have for what causes your stress and your reaction to it the more you know where and how to focus your recovery. Pretty nifty, huh?

This month on the Heal My PTSD blog we have something very special: April is National Poetry Month. I’ve asked survivors to submit their poems. We’ve gotten some great poems to share, so all month the ‘Survivors Speak’ weekly feature will highlight a different poet’s work. I’m kicking off today by sharing with you one of my own PTSD poems.

Poetry played an enormous role in my learning how to put language to my experience, plus how to bring an element of control to the memories. The more I wrote things out the more equal I came in that tug of war between me and the past.

Previously, on this blog I’ve shared my poem about how much after trauma I just wanted to get back to who I was before. And I’ve posted also about my struggle to find and tap into my inner strength in PTSD recovery.

Today, I’m going to share with you my poem about the process of healing posttraumatic stress.

Doing The Work

Sweating and straining, I begin the process

of slowly reclaiming my body. Together, I sew

an ankle and foot. Without thinking, I know

where to put each extremity, then hazard a guess

at how to arrange internal objects. The skeptical sun sets

in admiration, the cool evening comes to express

its faith as I slip my head into place. Shadows

roll from the dunes and reach to caress

my sore joints and jagged stitches. I’m surrounded

by a mood of movement, so I run, no longer hounded

by the slaughter of things I can’t see, but astounded

by how much force my pumping heart withstands,

how fast my limbs now move across the desert sands -

all the intangible things, finally, I understand.


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