PTSD Spirituality: Topics For Writing and Healing

I need your help to get back into a writing habit for the PTSD Spirituality website.  Regular visitors know that I have not written any essays for some time.  If I am not writing, creating, I am further away from healing and further away from God’s presence.  Below are the Short Version and the Long Version of the help I am asking of you.

 Short Version:

Please send me PTSD Spirituality topics you would like to see explored.  You can write me at the contact information “DrZ (at sign) PTSDspirituality.com” or leave a comment to this posting. 

Long Version:

I would appreciate knowing the particular PTSD Spirituality related topics you would like to see covered on this website.

As above, you can leave a comment to this post or email me at “DrZ (at sign) PTSDspirituality.com”

Creative Activities Promote Healing and Self-Worth

I know that the more I write the better I will heal.  Others may discover some degree of validation, hope, and information that will aid them in their own PTSD journeys.  My own personal journey manifests more healing when I write, pray, and meet with trauma survivors.

To be realistic, I acknowledge that writing will not replace missing cartilage or heal neurological damage; the writing will not change my personal history. 

Equally realistic is the knowledge that writing will enable me to better cope with poor health and PTSD triggers. 

Importantly, writing helps me to better manage the frustration and depression which are the isolating dross produced by chronic pain, disability, and PTSD. 

Frustration and depression can lead to a sense of diminished self-worth, which is one of the goals of PTSD.  This sense of diminishment, caused by PTSD, harms our relationships with God, loved ones, our various communities, and even ourselves.  Creative acts provide us with enhanced self-worth and hinders PTSD’s attempt to force us into debilitating isolation.

Writing and Creativity Reveals Authenticity

As possible, I do a fair amount of writing by hand in my personal journals.  At times, that writing will turn into a poem or a prayer, or both.  It assists me to better understand my situation and who I really am.  It makes me more authentic.

Writing, music, and other creative acts enable us to discover more of our authentic selves.

The more I understand my own authentic self, the more protection I have from my PTSD symptoms and behaviors. 

The more I understand my authentic self, the more I can embrace God’s love for all of the creation, including God’s creation of you and I.

Writing by hand gives the most “bang for the buck.”  Yet, the activity of writing still has value if done by typing or using voice-activated software.  The writing need not be shown to others; you do not need to go back and re-read it or edit the writing, unless you really want to.  The value in this form of personal writing is the journey, the actual writing process, the creative process.  This life-giving process matters much more than any finished piece of writing.  While writing – or any creative act – often produces some finished object, the completed product itself is not more important than the act of writing.  How you get there is more important than getting there…your mileage may vary.

15 Minutes of Commitment

I am taking the writing advice of Rosanne Bane’s recent book, “Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance.”   She advocates making a commitment to write 15 minutes a day.  I can target more minutes or hours than the basic 15 minute commitment.  Click here for Rosanne Bane’s website.

For Bane, there is a difference between commitments and targets.  The commitment is non-negotiable, short of an emergency it has to be done.  Targets are what we’d like to get done, but they may not happen.

Past experience has taught me that if I can sit down and write for 10 minutes, then I will usually write for a much longer period of time.  The same has held true for drawing and painting.  And, the same has held true for prayer.

If I can settle down and be open to God’s love for 10 minutes, then I can be more open to God for longer periods.

The more time I spend writing or praying, the healthier I feel in terms of PTSD, frustrations, issues of self-worth, and depression.

Could You Help Me In My Commitment to Write?

I hope to get back into the writing lifestyle, where part of who I am is described by my commitment to write.  I would like most of this writing to be on the topic of PTSD Spirituality.  Some of the writing would be fiction or poetry.  Not everything would make it to this website, but I think much of it would.

What Topics Would You Like Explored?

Where do I need your help?  I would appreciate it if you could send me some of the topics that you would like me to write about. 

These topic suggestions would also help me to better understand what other trauma survivors are experiencing and what they would like to know more about.  It would also help me better understand the journey undertaken by those who care about, or love, someone with PTSD.

What Will It Lead To?

I hope the sharing of topics from people who care about PTSD healing, combined with an effective writing commitment, will nourish several positive outcomes.

     People will have some of their questions recognized.

     I will form a writing habit that will not be harmed by my health issues.

     That we may all have hope, validation, and healing as we walk both alone and together out of the grasps of our past traumas and current PTSD.

When it comes to PTSD: We All Need Hope, Validation, and Healing. 

The healing  journey is long, but does not have to always be rocky.  If you suffer from PTSD and/or care about someone with PTSD, then know that God value’s you highly.  You have worth, real value.  Part of your worth is magnified in the writing, music, or other forms of art you create.  Creativity is life, it promotes life and healing.  PTSD will try to dissuade you from life-giving art.  PTSD know that the more creative you become, and the more you fulfill a commitment to creativity, the more likely you are to escape the worst of PTSD’s grasp.

Semper Pax, Dr. Z

Comments

  1. a\f\t\e\r\m\a\t\h

    tremendous heat savored kisses labored dreams tormented mind

    woman man words heartsong singing more and more and more singing

    being, beaming arrivals, being being being I will never stop singing.

    \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \

    being beautiful beautiful being

    no song no me nothing but just furiousness mad movement moving madly.

    thrown and rethrown madly to flames unfathomably unjust and

    wicked cold retreat upon retreat

    every last furious moment futureless for years

    fear fear fear.

    no wonder or words, just resounding unsoundness–noise horrible horrible horrible

    such sadness only I know what, and oh, woeful heart of silence,

    what mad pitch blackness you travailed. Utter sinking lonelieness… complete

    and utter death, witnessed, watched, madly stared at, terror after terror

    in which no balm or comfort came

    until seldom rainfall brought and brings again rivered ageless soul sounding weepful sorrow.

    oh sorrow. Only when rain falls is there real felt relief.

    • Thank you for sharing this poem. I lingered in replying solely due to my own inadequacy of what to say in response. Your poem reflects a journey many of us still travel. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  2. My message wasi a good one.. fortunately God says youll be hear tomarro .. and evil is trying to keep me trying over and over to relay a deep message.. but I know I know I know we’re going to help each other. Pice Together the puzzle we already know but need to see that’s the picture.. but LOVE is the answers for all. .. were given the gift of perspective .. many are called… if you take action .. here’s some topics .. perspective ,…demons .. spirits…war at home… trust in faith… and being cheerful …. living free.. children created in from generation ptsd… I’m sorry if you’ve covered any of these I just only found your site last night… and today is Halloween… oh the connections of PTSD

  3. Dr. Z,
    Great to see you back online again and stirring up such an engaging dialog. Thank you for the time and energy you spend sharing. It is truly a blessing.
    Russ

    • Hi Russ, Thank you for your encouragement. The writing helps me in my own healing journey and I am grateful that it sometimes speaks to others. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  4. Erin;

    Your husband is probably right, simply because the reflex has been built in. It doesn’t go away. The VA will give you drugs (yes, total sarcasim).

    somehow, one learns to cope, or not.

    Love him as best you can!

    • While there is much to be said about reflexes reinforced by psychological training, there is much that can be unlearned. The unlearning may not take us back to where we started before we were trained, but it can help us to respect others more than we may do now if our PTSD/reflexes are running wild.

      This unlearning is very hard and difficult. It is downright painful and by and large our country does not see the need and will not fund an effort to do so – regardless of who is President. The unlearning is so painful because we need to fundamentally look at who we are. Not just who we were before the trauma but who we really should be in the eyes of God.

      Sometimes relationships can heal after being assaulted by PTSD/military reflexes, sometimes not. But love can heal. The situation is never hopeless.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  5. Dr Z;

    Don’t get wrapped around the axle.

    This sounds like plain old writers block, not PTSD.
    (although, that embraces everything…)

    Do your breathing, and get ready as best you can for the storm/weather.

    You are always in the prayers.

    Hang in there (get ready for the weather – if it misses, eat it later.)

    -steve-

    Just a thought:
    I trained for Viet-Nam, Reserves for a lifetime, trained and deployed to Iraq…

    As the military’s utilization of psychology grows and is incorporated into “training” –
    reflex development, (and between ’71 and 04 it has REALLY grown),
    reflex development has become the norm.

    It’s a reflex.

    It’s a physical/mental/psychological part of you. It is a physical part of you – built in, muscle, nerves, mind… (you are NOT in control – like riding a bike, or playing an instrument – nerve nodes are (literally & physically) formed and programmed)

    ————————————————-

    Soldiers always go into the shit cranked.
    Now, you are REALLY, REALLY, (really) cranked.
    Reflex, reflex, reflex.

    (BIG, BADASS 101’st Airborne followed us – they were CRANKED!!!
    Killed 3 of their people BEFORE the left the FOB. That’s cranked!)
    (A mite twitchy on the trigger)

    ————————————–

    Soldiers always have been tossed on the dungheap when done.
    No change.

    ——————————————–

    Until we, as a military and a society…
    spend as much effort cranking a soldier “down”,
    as we do cranking them “up”,
    PTSD will grow in proportion to our effectiveness in “training”
    (Reflex, reflex, reflex)
    (Agreed, It increases survival rates – I’m good with that!)

    OK. Not cost effective – It’s “your” fault
    (BS! It just is) –
    You were supposed to die gloriously in combat for your country!
    (See WW2 – REPLE-DEPOT)
    (and LT. Dan)

    ——————–

    Anyhow, the beginning of an idea on my end…
    I just threw it out – you can do the same!

    You get ready for the weather – may it miss you!
    If a hurricane doesn’t inspire something to write… 😉

    • Hi Steve, There is quite a bit of writer’s block in my situation and quite a bit of physical pain due to my other issues. I have found using Rosanne Banes book on Writers Block to be very useful, as well as Rochelle Melanders book.

      I appreciate your prayers immensely. They help keep me in the game, teaching, meeting folks, and hopefully back to the writing.

      Your insights on reflexes and training are very valuable. Parts of it can be unlearned, but most folks, including the trainers themselves, don’t realize they have changed from one outlook to another, changed from one set of values to another.

      I still shy away from standing in a lit room near a window at night. Part of my reflexes, even though I doubt a sniper is out there waiting to zap me. But booze and promiscuity I was able – after a struggle – to get behind me. Still tempted, yes, at times, but overall I’ve managed to train out of that set of PTSD coping reflexes.

      I hope you are well and I am very grateful to be part of your prayer…it helps sustain me. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  6. Dr Z.,
    I just started reading your blog so forgive me if I mention topics already covered. I think I get, at least from your personal experience, that PTSD is a lifelong struggle. I have not really thought of this much because I know many Vietnam vets who did have some issues for months, or sometimes years, but are totally functioning and don’t seem to still display any signs of PTSD. Why is this? I’m not a vet, just on the shrapnel end of PTSD! When I have mentioned to my husband that with time, and (though not so far!) therapy,assuming he is like the men I know from Vietnam era, he will get better! He says he will be this way forever. I have felt many times that is is a choice he is making to be able to continue his self distructive behavior! How do we know if, when, how it will end or not?
    Does age play a role? For instance is it possible that having deployed during, or just prior to a midlife crisis it can have a greater/longer impact? I apologize in advance because there are long lists of topics and questions. So for now, I digress.
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. Dear Dr. Z,
    The beauty of a blog is that what we write remains long after we have written it for God to direct the people to for whom He had you write it. It was a post from several years ago, shared today on a FB page wall which helped me to find your writing.

    I am not personally struggling with PTSD. I am a citizen called by God to serve those who serve and part of my learning curve has been to discover the high price veterans have paid – including PTSD. I believe our relationship with God holds many of the answers, however, I cannot address these as one personally dealing with PTSD – you can. Therefore I encourage you to write – sometimes just sharing your journey that others might be encouraged they have immense, unspeakable value and purpose no matter where their lives have taken them. I encourage you to continue to share transparently as you have the struggles…. This will bless and help more than you will ever know as God works through your obedience to let them know they are not alone, that He is still there and that they can go on.

    You will be in my prayers! (I am Catholic, too) Is there a way to subscribe to your blog by email, because I believe it would be good to let others know of your posts on my FB pages.

    May God continue to inspire you to write exactly that which He knows needs to be written. May He encourage you daily and may nothing block the readers for whom He has intended that which is written from finding the treasures God is having you to create for them, that they each might find the future and the hope for which He created them.

    Here is my blog….it is simply to help us draw closer to Him, once the decision has been made for a deeper seeking of relationship with God. http://ascendinworship.wordpress.com/ Work for our troops (though I always feel completely unqualified so I rely 100% on Him) is described somewhat at http://www.eaglesnestfoundation.org

    IF a gift of original worship music would bless you, to help you rest in Him and hear as you seek the words He promises to give you, then please email me with a mailing address and I will send you some CDs.

    In the meantime, may God bless you and thank you for your service in Vietnam then and thank you for your willingness to serve so greatly now.

    In His service,
    Elizabeth

    • Hello Elizabeth, Thank you for your gracious kindness. While I don’t know which essays from a few years ago caught your eye, I have noticed that a few months after I have written an essay I tend to forget what it was I said in it. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depedning on how the essayed has aged over time. At the risk of hubris, I sometimes read something I wrote, really don’t remember, and benefit from my own advice…Yikes! So I guess there is a good side to having a poor memory.

      Also, thank you for your own commitment and work with worship music, veterans, and your foundation. Those are valuable gifts since so many of the vets, especially those with TBI and/or PTSD, feel let down & forgotten by the country they served. I’ll not get started on a rant about “plastic patriots.”

      I will poke around and see if I can find a widget that allows for email subscriptions. I am rather the novice at running a website, but I’ll give it a go and see what I can find out. While I am an Army veteran, I did not serve in Vietnam; my active service was later on and not near so as dangerous. That said, I find I often connect well with Vietnam vets and their spouses/partners.

      I am grateful for your prayers and your encouragement to continue to write. Every couple of years I try to swear off writing, but find I am always dragged back to try and write some more, whether it is PTSD Spirituality, fiction, or poetry. I can get rather “aw shucks” about how some people have been helped by the essays on this site or in my academic teaching, but my own spiritual director has told me that this is what I need to keep doing. So, I will continue to explore the intersection of PTSD and Spirituality.
      Semper Pax, Dr. Z

    • Hi again, I think I sorted out an email subscribe function. It should be on the right side beneath the picture. Thank you for the suggestion! Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  8. Dr. Z,
    Thanks for mentioning my book and blog. You have an intriguing blog yourself!

    I’m struck by the similarities in how you personify PTSD and the way I personify the Saboteur (chapter 8 in the book or http://baneofyourresistance.com/category/psychology-of-resistance/). I’m intrigued and appalled that we all seem to have this part of our personality that wants to destroy our happiness and satisfaction…

    Recognizing and labeling that self-destructive urge really helped me understand and respond to my own and other writers’ resistance, perhaps as much as learning what’s going on in the brain when we want to write but can’t. The way I see it, writer’s resistance can be, but isn’t always, caused by the Saboteur.

    But the Saboteur will use any form of resistance against us whenever it can. I hate being wrong, so my Saboteur uses my perfectionistic trait to delay my writing with thought like “It’s not good enough yet. Work on it for awhile before sending it out. But before I work on it, I probably need to do more research, and for that, I need just the right sources…”

    I wonder if the self-destructive urge uses PTSD for those of you who have PTSD in the way a writer’s saboteur uses distractions or thoughts of rejection.

    My limited understanding of PTSD is that when a person is exposed to extreme danger and/or prolonged danger, the limbic system becomes hyper reactive. Limbic system takeover is much more intense when a person has PTSD; a less intense version of limbic system takeover is the source of writer’s resistance. So at times your PTSD will make it more challenging for you to keep your creative cortex online.

    What I’ve observed is that understanding that resistance is the result of the way the brain functions, not a lack of will power or discipline, helps writers let go of guilt and anxiety (which were fueling the resistance). I wonder if it would help to have one term for the adaptive reactions in your brain (what the clinicians call PTSD) and a different term for the self-destructive impulse (what you sometimes refer to as PTSD) that uses those brain reactions to impair your joy and satisfaction.

    If nothing else, this idea could be the topic of a blog post for you. Feel free to email me (Rosanne@rosannebane.com) if you want to continue this discussion.

    • Hello and Thank You for taking the time to visit. I have yet to get to chapter 8 of your book, but am progressing. The Saboteur could be both part of PTSD-Identity and also a PTSD-behavior. I would find it definitely to be part of the behavior side, but I don’t think it would be fully defined there. Part of the perfectionism we struggle with certaihnly makes us more prone to PTSD coping behaviors. If I set a goal, or discover that willpower alone is not enough to change my behavior, I may engage in negative PTSD coping behaviors to compensate for the frustration and teh sense of loss.

      My thoughts are that you are right on the money with your analysis on how the limbic system takes us for a joyride, or maybe on a not so joyous ride. Asheley Hart brings this out in “An Operators Manual to Combat PTSD: Essays for Coping.” In my discussions with trauma survivors, whether civilian or combat survivors, much of what Ashley writes is applicable to PTSD, regardless of cause. It may be the best thing out there for the non-medical specialist attending to limbic changes and PTSD. Your book fascinates me so much because it takes and applies that limbic information in a direction that leads to writing, creativity and healing…not just coping and surviving. btw I learned of your book in a review by Melissa Hart in the Oct 2012, The Writer. I hope it has brought more people to look at your work.

      I’ll be writing directly in the next day or so. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  9. Hello, Dr. Z.,
    Might you be willing to turn your attention to the particular dilemmas represented by our western definition of what it means to be a man and PTSD? I’ve got lots more questions! Also, I just attended a play about becoming disabled by football and I was struck by the similarity between what the coach was saying and the sorts of things young guy soldiers are told. “Your training will pull you through and you won’t be hurt.” How having feelings is feminine and negative. ” You’re invincible.” “Winning (the mission) is worth everything.” Thanks for asking!

    Amy

    • Hey there, Rev. B!
      That is a good topic. Many male vets I have spoken with, especially the Vietnamn Vets, have mentioned how sports and/or John Wayne movies influenced our sense of self…what it was to be a real man, a real soldier. Henri Nouwen, the Dutch priest, wrote an essay on “competiton” that I am still looking for. He took this on in comparison to compassion and saw them as opposites. This is a good topic and I shall “step up to the plate and take a swing”….er, um….so to speak. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

      • Not sure if you are still here Dr Z? I read your post on voluntary shamanic initiation, but never found the follow up you mentioned on PTSD as involuntary initiation. That’s would be me. I would love to read your thoughts on that? I am so happy to have found your site. Thank you!!!! ~ L

        • Hi Lisa, To my embarrassment, I am not sure if I wrote the follow-up piece. My health remains up and down and my memory is not all that it used to be. Anything I wrote on PTSD and Shamanism should be listed in the category entry at http://www.ptsdspirituality.com/category/shamanism/ That said, I have not posed any new essays recently to the website. I’ve done some writing for the book and also some personal writing, but nothing that made its way to the website. Semper Pax, Dr. Z

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