Tag Archives: PTSD

Peace, Be Still

 

sea people service uniform
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It was combat. Young, hardened faces tensed with the desperation of wavering hope.

Soldiers strapped to their guns, pinned down in the safest place and surrounded by mines, had been holding their precarious position for five months. Over one hundred of their teammates, comrades, and friends had been carried off and buried. There was no time for grief. No room for sentiment. 

Who would be next, no one knew.

From the outside, it appeared that order and discipline in the form of rank and file remained intact. A lieutenant was in charge now, having assumed the role after the captain and commander were killed. 

However, tempers flared. Brave chatter had morphed into a single thought.

HOLD.

Hold out, hang in there, stay the course, keep yourself together, don’t think too much, don’t lose focus, push away the emotions, calm your nerves… hold. Above all, remember those who die are heroes. Your sacrifice is secondary to the mission.

HOLD! 

D-day was traumatic for all concerned. The above scene is merely make-believe, based on a fictional television portrayal of war.* In reality, soldiers face menacing scenarios. On D-Day, the fight was horrific. It is reported that the few survivors remaining still can relive moments on that beach in France in 1944 like it was last week. 

Soldiers who stood their ground in actual wars, survivors of others’ sacrifices, the wounded, and otherwise affected men and women veterans – these are worthy and in need of our support and gratitude. They are not the only ones with difficult memories.

Beside them stand victims of abuse and torture in the human trafficking world,  witnesses to domestic violence or other crimes,  and people who survive mass shootings. Even these are but a small sample of the total number of people traumatized by literal and figurative foxholes. 

Well after one has healed physically, unresolved trauma may pin down the mind. Relief is incomplete. Symptoms of PTSD or other anxiety disorders are part of an ongoing struggle.  In the middle of run-away anxiety, often there remains a single thought.

HOLD. 

For years  my battles against unwanted thoughts were daily lost.  Learning some therapeutic strategies helped immensely. Still it seemed this was to be my forever normal –  make a choice, grow anxious, take time to recover, repeat. 

The break in that cycle came when I discovered more release and calm turning to the Lord Jesus than in any strategy I’ve tried.  It is not a passive insta-cure. However, he grants me rest from hanging on for dear life. 

While learning to heal from trauma, his words are rich with calm. “Peace, be still.” Years of practice have taught me to trust him.  Knowing he will never leave or forsake me,  I can release my hold, and just be held.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 4:39

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

*Star Trek Next Generation

Experiencing Mild PTSD

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Yesterday I had an impassioned conversation with a bull-headed young man. For hours last week and for hours yesterday, I listened patiently to him rant because he is suffering  a terrible, tragic, and unjust loss. He is fragile.

As his friend I care about him deeply.

Yesterday afternoon he raised his voice and started to misjudge my motives. It didn’t matter what I said or even if I remained quiet. He grew louder and more disrespectful and rude. 

Accusations were simply untrue. I called him out on his manner of speaking to me and he suggested I should be quiet and listen.  He insinuated repeatedly he knew what was in my heart better than I do.

Suddenly, I heard myself yelling back, challenging his point of view.  He laughed at me. Standing, shaking, and beginning to cry, I threw him out of my house.  

After he left, my son came from another room and said he had overheard my friend’s loud voice. He was  tuning it out until he heard something unfamiliar.  “What? Is that mom yelling?”

There are triggers to mild PTSD.  I have much respect for people who live with far more complicated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder challenges. Nonetheless, mild PTSD is real.   

A person once said to me, “I would be angry too in [such] a situation.”  My PTSD is not reasonable anger. It is unadulterated fear that directly results from childhood and marital traumas.  I may have good reason for anger, but it is reactionary fear driving the show. 

I’m left tonight with a headache and unresolved agitation.  Fear disguises as anger which is why I can truly say I forgive my young friend and love him, yet do not want him around for a few days.  I have to recover. I’m shaken. My mind has driven to past threats. I’m jumpy at noises and trying to hide in my office in my own home. 

From his texts, it seems he thinks I was merely offended. I’d like to tell him the truth. There is little security that he will listen right now, so there is no sense of safety in trying. 

His PTSD and mine have collided into an unreasonable, tangled mess. I hope he is able to understand that I love him like a son, and cannot see him right now. 

Today’s Helpful Word  

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

Flashbacks Triggered by Catholic Church Scandals: How to React with Compassion to PTSD

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Emily* was ill. Mentally and physically exhausted, much of her time at Timberline Knolls Rehabilitation Treatment Center was spent asleep or curled up on a couch in the lounge. On those occasions she did rise, her efforts at connection and function were heroic.

One afternoon,  she and I were the first to arrive at a large group therapy room.  No one in a rehab is at their best, obviously. However, conversation was cordial and sedate.

Suddenly, Emily threw herself into a huge bear hug and buried her head. She began rocking back and forth. Soon, she had turned her back to the room, trying to hide from the danger, pain, terror, and false-guilt that accompanied her flashback.

No doubt in her thoughts she was a child again, feeling all the sensations of abuse. Her momentary reality was darkness, a hand reaching through the black, her survival threatened.

Sitting next to her I began to whisper. “Emily, it is ok now. You are safe. You are at Timberline Knolls. People care about you here. Your head is on a fireplace hearth, your body is on carpet. No one is hurting you. Girls who care about you are all around. You are not alone. You are safe here.”

Continuing along those lines for a few minutes, eventually Emily started to come out of it. When her horrible flashback ended, she was quiet, yet present.

What you can do 

With all the news in the last week about sexual abuse in the Catholic church,  PTSD is affecting many men, women, and children. Not only victims of that scandal are suffering.  Any previous victims of sexual or other kinds of abuse may find normal days interupted.  They see or hear the news, and Bam! Unwillingly, they are tossed back to a time and place they long to forget. 

You may witness this. Please do not tell a person experiencing a flashback to shake it off or just give it to God. Instead, express your care and love, and help them refocus on the here and now. One way to do that is to start describing the room you are both in and the people who are there.  Offer assurance they are safe.

Knee-jerk reactions like “get on with it'” or  “quit feeling sorry for yourself” dismiss what is happening. A tortured mind, often complete with body sensation memories,  is temporarily overwhelmed.  To treat this like an attitude problem undercuts healing.

Mention there is no danger. If their pet is nearby, bring it over. Draw attention to what his or her five senses are experiencing in the present. Disburse any hovering  crowd. Keep your words and tone gentle, calm, and positive.

Later, after this person feels more grounded and less fearful, offer to help him or her give it to God by briefly praying together.  Say, “You are not alone.”  Never suggest they are failing somehow.

Compassionate love meets people where they are in the moment.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12: 15 

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

 

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*b/w butterfly by XYMONAU ;  yellow butterfly by CLIOVON, both on rgbstock.com

*not their real names

Is All The Bad News Messing With Your Mental Health?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

Watching the news is like taking a bath in negativity and cynicism.  You know as well as I that heroic events take place each day.  That is because for every awful news story, there are first responders,  families  gathering to pray and comfort one another, and neighbors helping neighbors. 

Yesterday,  some well-trained air traffic controllers went to work,  ready to save lives for eight hours as they do each day.  Military pilots dressed in their uniforms, kissed their spouses, and left.  First responders prepared for unpredictable shifts.  No one knew they would be joined in an effort at saving a man’s life.  

That is not how the news story read, is it?  The headline was not “Dozens Offer Hope to Desperate Man.” No. News  stories focused on a stolen plane, a man’s suicide, and then security issues at the hangar.  This is the negative bent that makes the news business rich. Eventually, it makes us afraid.  

Peace of mind does not seem to result from watching or reading the news. However, taking a break from it, does. Participation in creativity, sport, eye-to-eye connection, and laughter, enriches us. Biting back would-be complaints and looking for beauty instead raises our spirits.

Our mental health is often linked to how we think.  Avoiding the news will not make everything all better. It will, however, make life less challenging.

You have probably heard wise advice about keeping toxic people at arm’s length.  Why then, invite the same poison in to our homes via the news?

Earlier this week I had enough of the racing thoughts, flashbacks, and other PTSD-related symptoms that have been more sensitive lately.  I asked God in prayer to help me, and he is. One of the truths I believe he reminded me is to stay away from the news for a while.

Do we need to know about all the murders and war crimes and natural disasters? No.  Our best option is not sheltered ignorance, either. Nonetheless, there is no need to delve into the news every day or for more than a few minutes. 

Joy is everywhere. Choose it.

Today’s Helpful Word

Philippians 4:8 

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

*phone pic by LUCI on rgbstock.com

When People Hurt People – There is an Anchor For the Soul

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

A boy of about 10 years worked hard to raise enough money to own a bicycle.  He mowed lawns, ran errands, washed cars, and saved every penny. Months later, he sat atop his new 20″ freestyle BMX , ready for his first ride.  His heart filled with joy,  his feet could barely keep up with the peddles as he sailed downhill on a city side street.

Suddenly, a group of teenagers surrounded him. Searing pain consumed his face; blood ran from his nose. They left him on the cement with a broken jaw, and no bike.

The boy stood up, saw a police car, and ran toward it.  Between sobs and bloodied teeth he tried to tell the officers what had happened. He was scolded, “Go home and stay out of trouble.” They drove away having collected no information about the bike or the teenage  assailants and thieves.

Helpless isn’t all …

That true story hurts my heart every time it comes to mind. It sad to think of the grave disappointment, anger, and confusion that must have enveloped that boy. Unfortunately,  in a world where people often hurt others, he is not alone in that sense of helplessness. 

When life isn’t fair and injustice seems to have the upper hand, an anchor for the soul is Jesus. I know not everyone who reads my blogs is “religious” per se, yet this is my experience. My story is not complete without telling of the One who has been my strength and inspiration through every broken heart. 

…There’s real hope

Last week, a stranger felt it was somehow acceptable to interject herself into a private and sensitive part of my life. Twice I felt invaded as she justified being the one to inform me of a personal family matter.  This triggered days of PTSD-driven anxiety (due to the issue), tension, and fatigue. No one can make anyone else feel a certain way, however her lack of compassion was extraordinary.  

I feel better today because my anchor reminded me nothing is bigger than he is. He dwarfs fear and exists beyond the reaches of human error.  When people hurt me, in him I trust. In him a sense of helplessness is replaced with security. His embrace never fails.

You see, the anchor holds in every kind of storm.   

 

 

 

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

 

 

When the Facts Do Not Line Up: 6 Challenges for Victims

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

You have a PhD in your story. You know the level of anguish you suffer(ed). You are aware, or becoming so, of the confusion, roles people play, and how trauma affects your thinking. Perhaps you do not know what to do about it- that’s ok for now- however, you can validate yourself. Your experiences matter. You matter. 

 

This post is not about blaming you for your pain. Instead, my hope is to give you a springboard to challenge falsehoods you may have always believed.  Freedom comes with the truth, remember?  So let’s explore some of it.

Truth about…

(1) Victim identity. You were once a victim and are no longer. Or perhaps you remain in a situation that causes you harm. Either way, you do not have to limit the definition of who you are to “victim.”  

You are so much more!  You are a human being with the ability to think and reason. Even where confusion or mental illness interfere, you have the power to make at least this one quality decision:  will you pursue change?

(2) Feeling stuck. We are each responsible for our happiness. I know, I know, people get in the way of that.  We cannot control what other people do. We can only control how we react.

A therapist once said, “Pain happens. Suffering is optional.” I take that to mean that you and I can extend our suffering by accepting it verbatim. We can say, ‘Oh well, this is my lot in life,” or we can choose to reach out for help, to learn how to recover and become separate from our tragedy. 

(3) Worth.  We become our worse enemy when we repeat  lies and deceptions  to ourselves. Someone taught me I am worthless unless a man says otherwise. When I think of all the times I allowed that to dictate my response to life, it is striking. Ultimately, that false belief nearly killed me. 

It’s a vital distinction between BEING worthless and making worthless choices. We all screw up. There is plenty to regret.  Today however, I fight to make healthier choices, the kind that help other people and me. 

You too are inherently worthwhile. Liars try to teach you otherwise. Instead of reinforcing the negative in your mind, how about looking in the mirror and smiling? Say, “I am valuable” until you believe it.  No one has the power to decide you are worthless- not even you.

(4) Reality.  Is the impossible actually possible? Other people have made it through and talk about how life changed for them. AH, so change IS possible. A more revealing question  you may ask is, “what about me?”

There was a time I did not believe change was possible for me. Hope was 100% gone. Yet change occurred anyway.  Quite simply, I was wrong in my assessment. Major depression skewed my thinking while truth remained the same:  I had, and always did have, the ability to know freedom and joy.  

Blindness to options made it impossible without help.  That brings us to our fifth challenge.

(5) Messengers .  People fail. A male therapist joked, “Men suck.” He knew how many of  his female clients had been hurt in some way by a male figure.  Nonetheless, we all hurt each other whether through ignorance, insensitivity, or outright selfishness.  

Since the folks who taught you in some way that you deserve to be victimized or that you brought it on yourself, are indeed people, we can assume they failed.  What if they were liars, or narcissists, or psychologically impaired? What if they were evil, or didn’t know better? 

What if they were WRONG? That changes everything, doesn’t it?

(6) Being alone. The world is full of hurting people who think they are the only ones who experience the thoughts, habits, quirks, pain, confusion, and emotional distress that they feel. Oddly enough, we are all much alike. 

I’ve heard repeatedly in support groups and in conversations other people express ideas I once believed were mine alone. Uncertainty, fear, and distrust of ourselves and others are common. Each of us struggles with damning thoughts and difficult-to-function days.  Many deal with PTSD. 

No, you are not alone with uncomfortable and guilt-ridden thoughts and behaviors.  One of the best ways to discover this truth is to share your experience with others in a safer environment like a support group. 

Finally, as a follower of Christ, I would be remiss not to mention how close I know Jesus is when I hurt. Even when all I wanted was to die,  my Savior did not let me go of my heart.

Loneliness comes and goes, suffering lingers and passes, memories of victimization wax and wane. Some days cloud nine is far below, other days the silver lining is tarnished and dull. 

Yet I am no longer a victim! And will never, ever  walk alone.

Today’s Helpful Word 

 

Peace, Be Still

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

nbvwcha

It was combat. Young, hardened faces tensed with the desperation of wavering hope.

Soldiers strapped to their guns, pinned down in the safest place and surrounded by mines, had been holding their precarious position for five months. Over one hundred of their teammates, comrades, and friends had been carried off and buried. There was no time for grief. No room for sentiment. 

Who would be next, no one knew.

From the outside, it appeared that order and discipline in the form of rank and file remained intact. A lieutenant was in charge now, having assumed the role after the captain and commander were killed. 

However, tempers flared. Brave chatter had morphed into a single thought.

HOLD.

Hold out, hang in there, stay the course, keep yourself together, don’t think too much, don’t lose focus, push away the emotions, calm your nerves… hold. Above all, remember those who die are heroes. Your sacrifice is secondary to the mission.

HOLD!

The above scene is merely make-believe, based on a fictional television portrayal of war.* In reality, soldiers face menacing scenarios. Soldiers who stood their ground in actual wars, survivors of others’ sacrifices, the wounded, and otherwise affected men and women veterans – these are worthy and in need of our support and gratitude.

They are not the only ones with difficult memories.

Beside them stand victims of abuse and torture in the human trafficking world,  witnesses to domestic violence or other crimes,  and people who survive mass shootings. Even these are but a small sample of the total number of people traumatized by literal and figurative foxholes. 

Well after one has healed physically, unresolved trauma may pin down the mind. Relief is incomplete. Symptoms of PTSD or other anxiety disorders are part of an ongoing struggle.  In the middle of run-away anxiety, often there remains a single thought.

HOLD. 

For years  my battles against unwanted thoughts were daily lost.  Learning some therapeutic strategies helped immensely. Still it seemed this was to be my forever normal –  make a choice, grow anxious, take time to recover, repeat. 

The break in that cycle came when I discovered more release and calm turning to the Lord Jesus than in any strategy I’ve tried.  It is not an insta-cure. However, he grants me rest from hanging on for dear life. 

While learning to heal from trauma, his words are rich with calm. “Peace, be still.” Years of practice have taught me to trust him.  Knowing he will never leave or forsake me,  I can release my hold, and just be held.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 4:39

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

*********

COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

1st picture from rgbstock.com

*Deep Space Nine, one of the Star Trek television series 

Emotional Abuse in the Christian Marriage. Part 2

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness    (c)2015  Nancy Virden

photo-24769763-mad-couple

Emotional abuse can be subtle which is why so many people miss it. The damage however, is very real. Research shows that people on the receiving end of emotional abuse suffer just as much or more with the aftereffects and long-term mental health issues as those who have been physically or sexually abused.

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety disorders, and/or depression may develop from emotionally abusive relationships. Married christians are not immune. These disorders* often affect a person long after the emotionally abusive relationship is over. Once I heard that the first step toward recovery from abuse is to stop the abuse. Still, the harm done affects the victim’s relational abilities and can require years of therapy to overcome.**

If emotional abuse is so horrible, why then do churches largely ignore it? I knew an actively involved woman whose church silently watched her leave with only a couple of people asking her why she left. Vague knowledge of marital problems in the family only stirred up enough interest for gossip and misguided “prayer support.” Evidence of emotional abuse was not visible – no scars or bruises – and her behavior had probably seemed extreme in response to what others could not see. I believe churches often ignore emotional abuse because it cannot be measured and easily described.

Another reason churches may disregard emotional abuse is because it does not seem extreme enough for church leaders to become involved. One pastor told me he would not confront one of the male volunteers in his church because accusations against him may be false and the volunteer could sue the church. No discussion, no questions asked. Within marriage however, even quietly oppressive power plays build up on each other until the cumulative effect is destructive.  This is not a light matter.

I am not describing disappointing marriages. The emotionally abused person will be afraid of the abuser, and will question her perceptions. She can lose her identity and cease to thrive.

“Abuse is fundamentally a mentality…while this mentality of power and control often expresses itself in various forms of physical abuse, it just as frequently employs tactics of verbal, emotional, financial, social, sexual and spiritual abuse. Thus, an abuser may never actually lay a hand on his wife and yet be very actively terrorizing her in incredibly damaging ways.”***

Stigma, ignorance, and well-intentioned but unhelpful advice and counseling remain staunch elements in churches and elsewhere. It is our responsibility to learn the facts and react appropriately to emotional abuse. 

Church discipline is a scary idea to ill-equipped pastors and elders. If one is to pay attention to our mandate in the Bible however, the statements “expel the immoral brother from among you” and “with such people do not even eat” are about how Christians are to clean up their side of the street, so to speak.**** It is after failed attempts at encouraging one’s change of heart that the church expels a culprit. Only after significant and time-proven changes in behavior and attitude is the church to welcome this person back.

One of the sins listed in these passages is the old-fashioned term, revile which means abuse. It is sometimes translated slander. Cruel, dishonest, denigrate, run-down, and scorn are a few synonyms for revile. Yet not only do churches neglect to approach the issue of emotional abuse, perpetrators can be leaders, teachers, pastors, and the like. All the while their faces of excellence defy patterns of terrible behaviors at home. Wives are afraid to speak out for many reasons, some of which this blog will discuss on Thursday.

Mental bruises, cuts, and scars are invisible. This does not mean they matter less than wounds we can see. Part 3 of this series will describe a case of emotional abuse and what one particular victim feels.

Resources I recommend:

******

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

-pictures from qualitystockphotos.com

*Psychological Disorder. (n.d.). In Alleydog.com’s online glossary. Retrieved from: http://www.alleydog.com/glossary/definition-cit.php?term=Psychological Disorder) (Disorders involve thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that prevent persons from functioning, meeting their own personal needs, or who become a danger to themselves or others.)

**What’s Worse: Physical Scars or Mental Scars?  A domestic violence guest post by Joseph Pittman. Retrieved from http://domesticviolencestatistics.org/whats-worse-physical-scars-or-mental-scars/

*** From A Cry for Justice, italics mine. Retrieved from http://www.cryingoutforjustice.org

**** 1 Corinthians 5:9-6:11

Memorial Day and Living Sacrifices

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden  

On Memorial Day we rightfully remember those who died protecting our freedoms.

While most Americans no doubt are grateful for our veterans’ courage, sacrifice, and loyalty, we tend to not pay much attention to what surviving veterans continue to struggle against. Society in general does not accept or appreciate the mental price paid by so many. 

Some veterans  come home with what used to be called combat fatigue. Now it is known as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.  If society does not allow discussions about PTSD in polite company, veterans and others are shut-down from talking about their great challenge. 

Recently a man sued a public business for taking offense at his service dog. He has PTSD, and no one there respected that fact. “Just get over it,” I can imagine them saying. “Leave your dog outside.”

But his dog is what keeps him able to go out independently into public businesses in the first place.  He is better for having a trained working dog who senses his master’s rising anxiety and knows how to ground him and bring him back. If only we as citizens were as smart as that dog!

If we are truly grateful, we will learn. The internet makes it easy for us to read up on PTSD on reputable sites. New education will grow our insight. We can talk knowledgeably about PTSD, and expand society’s acceptance.

This Memorial Day and beyond, let’s grow in understanding the ongoing sacrifice many of our veterans pay.

********

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

Sports’ Most Gruesome Injury Evolves into Hope

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

hockey sport image

The name Clint Malarchuk* may not mean much to you. In the hockey world an older generation will remember him as the young man whose throat was cut by a skate in the middle of a game in 1989.

Few people understood that for years he had battled Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD.  He used his OCD to create a work ethic that landed him in the NHL.  As a goalie, he would create as many moves to stop a puck as he could, practicing for hours a day. His OCD also linked him to what nearly took his life.

It was early in the game and Clint was at his post. An opponent drew up close to score. He fell, and his left skate severed Clint’s jugular vein and carotid artery. Blood streamed onto the ice as Clint clutched his throat. Blood loss like that can cause death within one minute.

Clint thought he was going to die and whispered to the equipment manager who was gripping his hand, “Call my mom and tell her I love her.”  A trainer applied heavy pressure to the source of bleeding, and Clint survived all the way to the hospital.

There he underwent immediate surgery, and unbelievably was back on the ice in eleven days. He had lost one-third of his body’s blood supply.

Looking back, he now says he wishes he could have rested as the doctors had told him to do. His OCD called him back to play and he had obeyed. It began to overtake his life. What was once an exceptionally good work ethic was becoming a beast that expressed itself in part through clinical depression.

No one had figured out he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is what it sounds like – unquenchable stress as a result of unprocessed trauma. His depression nearly kept him home, and when he played his performance suffered. Clint’s struggle included angry outbursts and physically attacking other players- a change in personality that soon ended his hockey career.

He moved to the middle of nowhere and took up ranching. He felt he was doing well enough emotionally until the unthinkable happened. Another hockey player was sliced by a skate through his jugular vein. Clint’s PTSD burst into full gear. While the newly injured young man received counseling and returned to his sport slowly, Clint was falling apart.

Obsessive and compulsive thoughts and behaviors joined his deepening depression until one day his wife found him sitting on a bench behind an out building. He picked up a gun and shot himself in the face.

This suicide attempt broke his chin, teeth, cheekbone and eye socket into little pieces. He lived for six months in a psychiatric facility. Finally, his PTSD had been diagnosed and he received appropriate medical and emotional help.

This took place twenty years after his hockey injury, and he lives now with a new sense of purpose. He coaches and is an inspiration to many. He wants to spend his life combatting stigma against mental illness wherever he can.

There are many stories I want to tell, inspiring tales of strength and power over mental health challenges. In the meantime, remember Clint. He thought he was hopeless, out of control, and had no reason to live anymore because of emotional pain. He was wrong, wasn’t he? It may be a long road, but seeking help as early as possible is important. None if us will ever be as young as we are today. Tomorrow can be a fresh start.

* For a video of Clint Malarchuk telling his own story, click http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9255400

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is,  please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*picture from Qulaitystockphotos.com