Other than using the Rewind Technique, which I have found to be the kindest treatment for dealing with symptoms associated with traumatic events, there are many other treatments and activities which can help alleviate the symptoms a sufferer is experiencing. Here, Robert Johnson guides us briefly through what PTSD is and some of the options available to those living with the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex-PTSD (cPTSD).
As we know, life consists of ups and downs which we overcome daily. When we think about any type of mental disorder, just think of the ‘many more’ ups and downs that those people need to deal with. For PTSD, the battle with fear and anxiety is a long one and can last the whole day. It can also continue through the night when the reliving of the events is frequent. In order to understand PTSD, it is important to have it defined before proceeding.
According to the NHS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. The symptoms are severe and can present during the day and night; varying from flashbacks, nightmares, guilt, insomnia etc.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, hopefully, you are already undergoing the proper therapy needed, since PTSD is something that can require day-to-day monitoring, counselling and medication in the first phases. If not, this will be the first step in a winning way. When you start your healing process, the next steps will be building your will and persistence in order to be more resilient.
Dealing with Daily Anxiety
It’s not simple or easy as it requires changing the patterns of our anxiety. One of the best ways to do this, is by keeping our mind occupied with something engaging. Also, changing our thought patterns is helpful in distracting us from our negative thoughts and thus moving back to a neutral or positive line.
While working with a wooden piece, for example, creating something out of nothing or transforming something into a better piece has a positive impact on our thoughts. It reminds us that we are able to change things with our own hands. Throughout the years, the arts have proven be a type of healing technique, which can help to release any stress and improve life. When it comes to woodworking, even the smell of processed wood and shaping a new piece can give that sense of connection to nature or help us recognise our worth. And while not all of us can have that deep experience of healing or transformation within us, woodworking can still serve as an activity to keep us busy and occupy our minds, providing an escape from negative thoughts.
Overcoming PTSD Symptoms Through Woodworking
Fortunately, for some with PTSD, woodworking has done so much more in that it has helped them overcome symptoms and to practically embrace a new life with a new meaning. One example, is Iraq War veteran Rolando (Roy) Corral who has proudly shared how woodworking allowed him to open himself up to others. He suffered from cPTSD after his medical retirement from the military and found no comfort from the therapy sessions he had with specialists. It was through woodworking that he found his “new identity” and a new passion – to inspire other veterans and restore their hope through the handcrafted wooden flags that his own foundation, I’ve Got Your (IGY) Wood Creations make.
Rolando, in his own words, described what woodworking did for his life. “Expressing myself through woodworking is what drives my love of building things. I dream about trash that people throw away and I make stuff out of it. I restore it, bring it back to life, and it resurrects as a new creation (upcycle).” He further added, “You see, it helped me open up and allow myself to let other people know that I was a veteran and encouraged me to not allow my military career define me for the rest of my life. I want woodworking to define who I am for the rest of my life.”
What About You?
Rolando is just one of the many who have found an entirely different life purpose than what PTSD feeds into their minds. There are many more like him out there, who found solace and renewal through woodworking, allowing them to overcome their daily symptoms.
The power of finding a passion and meaning in something you do, can be a life-changer for the better, especially when you’ve been suffering for quite some time.
However, the path of healing isn’t a cookie-cutter process. Think about yourself and your personal preferences. Woodworking may be the perfect activity for some but not for you! How about considering painting, drawing, acting? This could be the time for you to explore your new passion.