By the time I was diagnosed with PTSD I’d been in therapy on and off for eight years trying to overcome some invisible problem that no matter how much we talked about my trauma I kept getting worse. When things became so bad that I was (once again) completely dysfunctional both physically and mentally, I took matters into my own hands: I did an enormous amount of research around what happens to traumatized people.
Eventually I read enough to bump into the long list of PTSD criteria. It scared the hell out of me. Yes, it was bad to suffer in the way that I did, but without a ‘diagnosis’ of some real psychiatric problem I could deny, deny, deny. Eventually though, learning about trauma and how it affects people helped me learn I wasn’t crazy. It also gave me a framework for understanding the work that needed to be done so that I could overcome PTSD symptoms.
After my diagnosis, one of the things my trauma therapist suggested was that I join a local PTSD support group so that I could talk to other survivors. At first I balked at the idea. In truth, I was afraid that I’d be triggered or couldn’t handle being around others like myself. But the more I thought about it the more I began to think I really would like to talk with people who understood PTSD and my experience. I really would like to hear how others dealt with their PTSD symptoms — both to cope and to heal. How did they function? How did they deal with family and friends? What did they do to move forward toward healing?
I felt so isolated and alone; suddenly, the idea of being around others who could implicitly understand my experience seemed like a welcome change to the muddled way I lived. All of these reasons are why I set out to find a support group. And how I discovered there is no local infrastructure for PTSD support.
I called my town, county and state resources looking for a place to fit in. In lieu of PTSD support, I was told to join the substance abuse groups, or anxiety or anger management. I began to understand there was no place for someone like me. The more I sought the less I found until I went back to Holly empty-handed and even between the two of us we couldn’t russle up a single meeting.
I decided back then, when I was finally free of PTSD symptoms I would find a way to develop a support group to fill the emptiness I had encountered. That was 5 years ago. Today, I am 100% PTSD symptoms free, plus I’m now a certified Self-Empowered Healing Coach.
I’m so incredibly pleased to be kicking off 2011 with the culmination of that dream I had years ago: I am launching the very first virtual PTSD support groups. Now, no matter where any of us are geographically, we can come together to have live conversations, get support, develop recovery creativity, receive personal coaching and build a community of action-taking survivors making the shift from powerless to powerful in order to access healing potential and get on with the business of reconstructing lives.
If you think a weekly telephone meeting would benefit your PTSD recovery, I hope you’ll join us! You can sign up for more information about posttraumatic stress support groups here.
Michele Rosenthal is a Self-Empowered Healing Coach and the founder of www.healmyptsd.com.