Surviving traumatic events changes our lives and our relationships. Beyond the pharmaceuticals and physical therapy there lays the extra something that is needed to better survive – and perhaps heal some aspects – of our PTSD soul wounds. Love is one of the necessary ingredients to a successful journey with PTSD. This is true for those who have military-induced PTSD and it is also true for those who have survived trauma as a civilian.
Ultimately, PTSD does not care about the specific type of our trauma – and neither should we!
Trauma creates alienation and damages relationships, love can help make the PTSD survivable.
Yesterday’s (6 Feb. 2012) online version of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) contained an article by Michael Phillips, called “For Wounded Vet, Love Pierces the Fog of War.” It contains the story about a wounded Marine with PTSD and the woman who loves him not in spite of his PTSD, but she loves him partly because of his PTSD. The new love they have forged together has made the PTSD something that can be borne, something that will not by necessity consume and defeat them. Katie Brickman and Ian Welch share a PTSD journey that is more hope filled than most; their journey contains love and art.
Regular readers (and thank you BK for pointing this WSJ article out to me!) know that I believe both love and art can help us heal from some of the more alienating, suicide-inducing, aspects of PTSD.
Love and Art Combine to Promote PTSD Healing
While the WSJ’s Michael Phillips’ has written a fine article about these two youngsters and how love has “pierced” the fog of PTSD, please also note the role of art in Ian’s life. Art promotes life and healing. Art combined with authentic love is like an antibiotic that beats back at the spreading PTSD infection.
Additionally, Michael Phillips’ writing treated both Ian Welch and Katie Brickman with dignity, with respect. Many PTSD survivors and their loved ones don’t normally experience that. We don’t always get a sympathetic press, but rather one that is looking for one-liners, sound bites to get ratings. Mercifully, Mr. Phillips’ article did not use this couple as press-fodder, he told an honest story. (As you can tell, I have had both useful encounters and some distasteful encounters with our nation’s press on the subject of PTSD. The distasteful journalist wants to consume our PTSD wounded brothers and sisters for a quick thrill. The more honest journalists, like Mr. Philips’ WSJ article, desire to report the reality of PTSD and even contribute to healing). Thank you for that.
An Automatic Cure?
Art, writing, and a loving relationship will not automatically cure PTSD. We should be beyond the question of “Is there a 100% Cure for PTSD?” and focus on how can we make life more meaningful for those who struggle with PTSD. In my own life struggles with PTSD over a few decades, some of the things which kept me from being another veteran who committed a PTSD-suicide were the exploration of life, meaning, and love in art, music, and writing. The love (and an immense amount of patience) from my wife also helped me discover the will to live and not let PTSD kill me.
PTSD hates art and love. Why? Through the decision to act and create through art and love we have chosen life over death, Light over Darkness. Even if we take on a subject that is considered dark or horrendous to most people, it still needs to be expressed non-violently through art and love. That non-violent, creative expression allows us to live. They create the hope and meaning that allows us to live another day. It helps to dig the moat that PTSD cannot cross.
PTSD does not have to win. We don’t have to totally isolate ourselves from relationships. We can choose life over death. And, your life has immense value, never forget that. You Have Value!
Semper Pax, Dr. Z