Isaiah 43:18 - Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
What is PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder?
Night after night you try to sleep. But then when you finally do fall asleep, the nightmare appears, and the past becomes your present. Yes, sometimes the past never leaves you.
Then there’s the smells that trigger something deep inside that make the scent transport you to another time or place. Or perhaps a song or a photograph flashes into your mind and you remember.
PTSD can make itself known with a cry that comes from deep within. You slip to your knees and say, “Is this ever going to end? When will I be free from my memories?” This is the face of PTSD.
No one can understand what you’re going through unless they’ve gone through it themselves.
So, you close yourself off in your home too afraid of going out into the crowd. Too afraid that something will happen and you’ll “lose control” in public. You see, you may be free from an immediate threat, but even if you are far away from your traumatic experience, it feels like it’s right outside your front door.
Perhaps someone hurt you or you’ve been in a terrible car accident and each time you hear a siren you collapse and cover your ears. The past becomes so much in the present that you can hear the sound of metal on metal in your head and feel the jolt when being struck by another car.
Or perhaps one of the worst of all: You’ve returned from Iraq or Afghanistan and you can’t get the image of one of your friends being blown up by an IUD.
Regardless if you’ve suffered from any of the above-mentioned tragedies, the results can be very similar. Nightmares. Flashes of memories. Sounds of the moment piercing through even the darkest of nights. Depression. Anxiety. Anger. Sorrow. Pain. Indescribable pain follows your every move.
Yet, there is hope. Small seeds are dropped onto the ground; watered by the tears flowing down your face. Shoots of young plants, reaching up and out of the darkness into the healing light of the sun.
Many methods have been developed to help heal sufferers of PTSD. Helpguide.org has some suggestions in their article, “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” Some of their suggestions are to exercise or move, activities such as rock climbing, boxing, weight training or martial arts, spend time in nature especially at a quiet spot where you can rest your mind and body, use mindful breathing where you focus on the present instead of the past, and connect with others who struggle with PTSD or counselors.
Lastly, it’s important to try to forget what happened. You may not be able to completely forget it but try to at least keep it off the forefront of your mind. God can help you do this and will teach you ways that can keep you in the present instead of the past.
Psalm 41:3 – The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.
Our world has always had threats to human life.
And then there’s chaos.
Recently our world has known the meaning of chaos where the Coronavirus has taken over every part of the United States and most of other countries.
It is tragic to see human life that has been lost. But there has also been loss of our way of life.
They have placed everything on hold for two weeks hoping that’s enough time for the virus to burn itself out.
How do we live in this time without it dragging us down into fear, depression and chaos?
One of the ways that you can help yourself is to be informed. Many of the fears that abound are because of the Coronavirus. There is information on the internet on sites like cdc.gov and health.harvard.edu. These sites provide us with information on what you need to know, what the virus is, the symptoms, if you think you are sick, preparations and community resources.
It’s important that if you are experiencing symptoms to contact your health provider and ask what you should do to find out if you have the virus and whether treatment or isolation should be followed.
Remember that just as the Bible verse above says God will sustain you on your sickbed and restore you. Yes, there have been many people who have died, but there is always hope to cling to that we will be made well again and our world find it’s way out of chaos.
Isaiah 25:4 - You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall.
With all of the natural disasters we have faced especially this last summer, including fires and hurricanes, it has led to countless people being trapped in their homes with no way out, which may have been eliminated had they’d been prepared.
Someone told me recently that regardless of where you live, whether it be in California where I live or elsewhere, I should have an evacuation plan in place.
But what about those who are disabled or have a chronic health issue and are unable to evacuate on their own? Regardless if we haven’t found someone to rescue us from a fire or a hurricane, there are things that we can do. One of those things is to gather all of your important paperwork and put it into a water tight container or bag. When there is a threat of a natural disaster I have my papers on a chair by my door to grab quickly if I need to.
Another thing to have ready is a packed bag with all of the necessary items that you would need. This includes medications, a few changes of clothes, toiletries, and other items that you would need should you have to evacuate.
Though it is important to have all of these items ready, there is something else that you may have to face if no one is there to evacuate you – the fear of being trapped and left behind.
This fear is real.
Those who physically are unable to escape without help may experience fear, but there are also those who wait too long once the evacuation order has been given or may think that the disaster won’t get to them and they stay home. They may have their own vehicle and could’ve easily evacuated, but they may have refused to leave because they are afraid of looters taking things from their home.
The first group of people who are afraid have a valid reason for that fear. However, the second group of people could have left and now are facing their worst fears which could’ve been prevented.
To find more ways to prepare for a disaster take a look at the article, “Individuals With Disabilities,” on ready.gov. It suggests how to make a plan if a disaster strikes such as if you are disabled and unable to evacuate yourself. Also, the article suggests keeping a contact list in a watertight container in your emergency kit and plan ahead for accessible transportation or tell first responders that you need help to evacuate.
Having a chronic illness or disability can make evacuating difficult. But with preparation your fears will dissolve and you can be ready when the news arrives that you need to evacuate.
Also, let’s remember that God can be our refuge when we’re in distress. He is our shelter from the storm and shade from the heat. With this verse, God shows that he’s covered us whether we’re near a wildfire or a hurricane. There’s great comfort in remembering we have this shelter.
Joshua 1:5 - No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
We’ve all watched movies where the hero is blindfolded, thrown into the trunk of a car, driven out into the middle of the wilderness and dumped on the side of the road.
Life can feel like we are that hero dumped on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. We don’t know where we are anymore. The rules have changed. We’re alone. We feel abandoned. What do we do now?
Sometimes we’ve allowed ourselves to get so tangled up in our pain and loneliness that we check out on our loved ones and friends.
In our heads, it is them that have abandoned us, but sometimes it is our own doing that got us here.
With a mental illness, we see life differently than those who are healthy. We can view the world as us against everyone else. We may in fact have friends who are on our side, but we’ve abandoned our hopes and dreams, and picked up our fears of what the future may bring and how we will deal with it alone.
Those around us may have their hands reaching out to us, but we only see those hands as being palms out pushing us away.
The fear of abandonment is one of the strongest enemies our minds can face. It causes us to make choices that almost guarantee that we will be alone because of our actions.
Whether you travel the road of chronic pain or whether you’ve been captured by a mental illness we’ve all felt the fear of abandonment from those we care about.
How do we stop this fear and live our life within the safety of those who really do love us? Wikihow.com in their article, “How to Overcome Fear of Abandonment,” shows us what causes the fear of abandonment, how to work through those emotions such as taking responsibility for our fears instead of blaming them on everyone else, how to question whether your thoughts make sense, and identifying any behaviors that push others away.
It is possible to stop being afraid of yet another person abandoning us and become stronger in reaching out to create new relationships. In the meantime, remember that God will never abandon us of forsake us. He will always love us and walk through our struggles with mental health and the fears that can stem from them.
Job 4:14 - Fear and trembling seized me and made all my bones shake.
Fear Factor. Do you remember that show? Each week new participants would face their worst fear. From sitting in a bathtub of bugs to standing on top of a tall building the show filmed the participant in the face of their extreme fear. So what was the reason behind the show? It was thought that once you faced your fear you would no longer be held captive by it.
Can that be applied to our everyday life as well, but not in such extreme measures? I believe it can.
What are you afraid of?
A certain amount of fear is healthy for our physical protection like being aware of threats around you. A healthy fear can be a fear of:
A healthy fear is indeed good for us, but how do we let go of our fear of things that we don’t need to be afraid of and walk in freedom instead? Find some ideas from the article, “Five Things We Can Learn from Facing Fears,” on lifehack.org.
Now that you know ways to help disperse your fears, go ahead and take the chance. You may be surprised at just how freeing it can be. Then fear won’t leave you trembling and your bones shaking. Trust yourself and trust God to help you follow through and seize the day instead of letting your fears seize you.
Proverbs 15:22 - Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
Once again you find yourself at the walk-in clinic. Being seen by doctors in their offices or in an emergency room happens frequently for those with chronic pain, illness, or emotional pain. What can begin to happen is that you develop fear of something happening that lands you back in the hospital.
The majority of doctors and nurses that you encounter are usually thoughtful and kind, but there are those, well, how shall I put this, they must be having a bad day and you just happen to be the unlucky recipient of gruff manners and eye rolls.
It’s like they see me coming. I’ve moved onto their plate. One more patient to care for in addition to the countless number that they are expected to see each day.
And then there are the tests. And the tests. And the tests that medical staff administer to you. One more poke. One more x-ray. One more blood test. All with hopes of finding a way to remove you from their to do lists.
But though a gruff encounter is not the norm, it can happen enough times that you begin to fear going in. Sometimes that can actually be a good thing, because you don’t need to be running to the doctor for every little thing. But there’s real danger when you begin to ignore real warning signs and do nothing to treat a problem before it’s blown up in your face.
And then there’s the people who are trained to help with emotional pain. You walk into their offices and fill out one questionnaire after another so that a therapist can find out what is upsetting you.
For the most part, just as with medical staff, therapists and their counterparts are genuinely kind and caring people. But sometimes. Sometimes you walk into their office on a day when they have too many people on their plate to help, that they may listen to you, but really they’ve begun to tune you out.
I don’t mean to fear going to an appointment, but it still happens. So, I sometimes wait too long before seeking help. What can we do then to move us from fear and to a sense of trust of the medical profession as a whole?
Healthyplace.com gives insight into the problem, and plans you can make to help minimize your fears in their article, "5 Ways to Cure Hospital Anxiety, Surgery Fear, Fear of Medicine."
Now that you know some reasons for this anxiety and have done some planning ahead, you will be less likely to be fearful. Just as the Bible verse above says finding counsel and advice will help you to be more successful when seeking help.
Job 27:20 - Terrors overtake him like a flood; a tempest snatches him away in the night.
Fear. It can overtake you in a moment, as the floodwaters engulf you. You never know from day to day how things will be. Will you give in to fear again and let it rule your life?
Fear is a common emotion, one that is experienced by both the healthy mind and those who are in emotional pain.
For the healthy mind, fear acts like a warning system alerting you to up and coming danger; such as fear of burning yourself. You watch your hands more carefully when cooking on your stove and avoid getting burnt.
Another fear is fear of getting in a car accident. One way we avoid that is to slow down and stop when the traffic light turns yellow.
But for those in emotional pain, their fears consist of irrational situations that may never happen. Such as the fear of being bitten by a spider. Think it through and realize the risk is almost nonexistent because spiders typically hide in corners and under things not out in the open.
Another irrational fear is the fear of breaking down and losing it in a public place. The fear of losing control is strong. It causes you to be afraid of crowds, so you don’t leave your home.
Fear in and of itself does not have to overtake us like a flood. We don’t have to be afraid.
Find some ways to learn how to face your fears in the article, "Why Being Afraid is a Good Thing," on whitneyhansen.com such as respecting your fears because listening to your fears might help you figure out the underlying message of them.
The floodgates of fear can open and bring a deluge of water spilling into our lives. With God’s help let’s build a dam of courage and keep those fears at bay.
Psalm 34:4 - I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
When we were children our fears were along the line of fear of the monster under the bed or fear of jumping off the high dive at the swimming pool. As adults, our fears are much different.
According to LISTVERSE.com in their article, “Top Ten Strong Human Fears,” fear of failure is the number one fear.
Any one of the fears listed in the article can take a hold of us and shake us to the bone. Fear can keep us from moving forward. Thinksimplenow.com provides us with some ways to overcome our fears. Follow the link below to read the article.
The Bible also provides us an example and way of making fear take flight.
In the Bible verse above, Psalm 34, David was running away from King Saul who wanted to kill him. He escaped to Gath. David at first had his eyes focused on the fear of the king of Gath and acted as though he was crazy before the king. The king sent David away because God never took his eyes off David, even though David had taken his eyes off of God.
After this, David turned to the Lord and he sent him an escape route to a cave in Adullum, along with four hundred people who were also on the run. Though David had valid fears, this time he turned to the Lord and asked for his help. The Lord helped David and God not only provided an escape route, but he also gave David an escape from his fears.
Even though we may have every good reason to be afraid, God won’t desert us. He knows when we are in turmoil, and he is ready to calm our fears. We just need to turn to God and trust that he will provide a way of escape in our hearts from our fears.
What fears do you battle the most? To leave a comment just click on the blue "comments" below. I look forward to hearing from you
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.