In his state of hypervigilance, the veteran would oscillate between increased anxiety and total exhaustion. When he slept, it was never restful but always nightmares. Such is the case for many veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Adding to the pain is the belief held by many within the mental health and medical community that there is no cure for PTSD. No cure, Really? Is this the message we want to convey? Little wonder with such a prognosis we see a suicide rate among veterans 200 to 300% higher than the public.
When we say, “there’s no cure”, we are saying there is no relieve of symptoms from the condition; there is no possibility of becoming sound or healthy again. These are text book definitions of cure; unless of course we are talking about salting a side of beef to hang in a smokehouse. Is there a cure for PTSD? I answer with a resounding YES, a person suffering with PTSD can find relieve that is life enhancing (suicide does not have to be the answer). There is the possibility of renewed resilience which restores the individual to sound health and a life of hope and joy.
Thirty years ago, my father was diagnosed with lymphoma. He was given three years to live as there was no cure; he died at 53. Because of breakthrough research, this once fatal diagnosis is now curable. Regarding PTSD, I have seen this truth in my own life and the lives of thousands of veterans that transformation is possible. Those who want to insist that there is no cure for PTSD should be reminded there is no cure for the common cold either. When the conditions are ripe during cold season you will likely find yourself mega dosing on vitamin C or even making a doctor’s visit. But you can be certain within a few days you will be better.
In no way does that last sentence intend to minimize the reality of PTSD. It is a very real condition. The impact of trauma has a way of rewiring the brain. Many times, if severe enough, ordinary activities can be challenging if not impossible. Building new healthy synaptic bridges takes time. However, we have only just begun to understand the ability of the brain to form synaptic connections that are actually helpful following a traumatic event that jumbles the wiring. This is the power of the mind to heal itself.
Finally, I would be remiss as a chaplain if I did not also recognize the power of God to transform the mind. The ancient text that we call the Bible is an incredible resource that is rarely considered in a world of free thinkers. Nevertheless, I have experienced healing within my own mind and witnessed such healing in countless others. When considering your options for PTSD treatment, don’t overlook the spiritual component. It is after all, a place where millions throughout time have found the cure.
Kenneth Koon, D.Min