PTSD Survivor Poetry by Mary McManus

In our ongoing celebration of National Poetry Month, this week’s PTSD poem comes from Mary McManus, who just so happens to be one of my guests on YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA tonight! Join us at 7:05pm EST as we chat about what it takes to overcome PTSD, pain, depression and all that holds you back after trauma.


Once my shroud
the walking dead
the veil of trauma shreds.

I walked with fear today
she cast a long shadow on the path
crevices and pitfalls hidden in the darkness
I stumbled and fell listening to her song in a minor key
a haunting shrill refrain echoing a funeral dirge.

Living in fear is death
she ruled my life when I believed her seductive lies
stripping my integrity
robbing me of my freedom
somehow if I allied with her I’d be safe.

But her power pales in the light of Truth
Breath the antidote to her venom
cleansing the mind numbing slumber
as strength and courage fill every fiber
hydrating my once shrunken self.

I rise from the rubble with grace and gratitude
awakened by the power of love in the sangha
daring to soar to new heights
leaving fear in the dust.


Being Alive
Estranged from myself
afraid to look within
and find nothing.

Disconnected from my core
to survive
using only the power of my mind
mind full of lies.

Mindfulness opened the creaky door
cobwebs from years of neglect
what would I find?

Rare treasures
my beautiful sweet soul
angelic heart
tenderness? yes tenderness too.

Beautiful teachers tour guides
on the journey within
be not afraid.

Breathe out the dust
of death and memories
breathe in new life.

Turn up the heat
thaw numbing trauma
tune out the voices
pain lessens.

Nourish mind, body and spirit
birthright to live
Being alive!

 To cope with the pain of paralytic polio at the age of 5, physical and sexual abuse from an alcoholic father, emotional abandonment and rejection by a mother addicted to prescription pain medication and multiple surgeries, Mary McManus learned to dissociate and disconnect from her body. She had a stellar academic career and professional career as a social worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs until her body, at the age of 53, cried out for healing. In December 2006, Mary was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease related to the initial polio virus and unresolved trauma that she held in her body. She went back into a leg brace, used a wheelchair at times for mobility and was told she needed to quit her full time award winning career at the VA just 3 years ‘shy’ of retirement age.

Mary knew it was time to wake up and pay attention to the body she grudgingly carried around with her and heal her life. She discovered the gift of poetry in her soul and the first poem she penned in February 2007 was called “Running the Race.” She had no idea that two years later she would cross the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon. In May 2007, Mary quit her job and never looked back.

Today she is a poet, yogini, blogger, 2009 Boston Marathon finisher, and inspirational speaker who brings a message of healing, hope and possibility through her gift of poetry, her blog and how she lives her life. She is the author of 2 books of inspirational poetry, “New World Greetings:Inspirational Poetry and Musings for a New World” and “Set Sail for a New World:Healing a Life Through The Gift of Poetry and released her third book “Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey” in May 2012.

In January of 2011, Mary discovered the power of yoga to heal the trauma bound in her body and strengthen mind, body and spirit. In August, Mary will embark on the second act of her second act as a yoga teacher trainee in South Boston Yoga’s Teacher Training program. Mary donates her time and talent to organizations that are near and dear to her heart. She is writing her memoir, “Why Do Squats Make Me Cry.” For more information about Mary and her journey visit and be sure to follow her blog at


The information provided on the is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Total votes: 3979