DSCF0125I was in my mid-sixties when a therapist first suggested that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My response was, “No. Impossible.”

Dr. B. handed me a book and asked me to read several pages out loud. When I was done he asked me if the words sounded familiar in any way.  I had to admit that the long list of PTSD symptoms did indeed sound like things I’d experienced.

But I also told him that I had never been in a fire, a horrific act of Mother Nature, experienced a terrorist attack, or fought in a war.  I told him my life was just ordinary, and that the parental abuse I had experienced as a child did not make for PTSD.  I reasoned that there were many other people out there who’d had it much worse than I, and that I knew my parents had really loved me. They were just a bit f ‘cked up.  I described others I knew who had been through much worse and weren’t suffering from a mental disorder.

It took a few more years and another two diagnoses by other therapists to set me straight and to get over the shame of having a mental disability. Early on, my parents had planted a seed in my head that said mental dis-ease of any kind, is something to be terribly ashamed of.  Denial was always the name of the game.

My father, who had beaten and abused me, showed signs of what at the time was called Shell Shock, brought on by his experiences in World War II. But he was never considered to have a mental health problem.  On the other hand my grandmother had been labeled an unfit mother because of the way she treated my mother and her siblings. She was the family’s deep dark secret that no one ever talked about. After all, what would the neighbors think if they found out about Grandma?

After numerous long and difficult hours with a therapist who specialized in working with trauma patients I began to understand that most any trauma can cause PTSD.  It all depends on the person who experienced the trauma, how early it started, how long it lasted and so on. She helped me to find new ways of navigating through life without the anger and anxiety that tortured me.

After I finishing my work with M., I picked up a book written by Michelle Rosenthal, entitled, Before The World Intruded, Conquering the past and Creating the Future.  Hers is an inspiring story of how she overcame PTSD and won the battle for her life brought on by a life-threatening allergy to a medication she experienced in her teens.  Over the years as she suffered from insomnia, nightmares and flashbacks she was diagnosed with a number of ailments, including cancer, by physicians who did not recognize the classic signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Twenty-four years later, knowing that there was something terribly wrong, Michelle started doing her own research.  When she discovered she had PTSD, she began a journey of healing that included a move to a new location and getting on the dance floor.

As she began to recover, she started blogging about her journey. She became a Certified Professional Coach, a Certified Hypnotist and a Certified Neuro-Linguistic Programmer, and started giving back as a PTSD Coach.  In 2009 she founded Heal My PTSD, an organization that brings awareness, education, and treatment options to those struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Michelle’s book is a compelling story of self-empowerment, and has further helped me with my own struggles. Filled with inspiration, Michelle brings us good information and the understanding that most anyone can recover using self-empowerment techniques and community to bring those with PTSD back to feeling safe and at peace in their surroundings.

This entry was posted in Books, Fear, Healing, Life, Memoir, Mental Health, Navigating Through Life, Trauma and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. krpooler says:

    Thank you for sharing this honest and gripping account of your personal experience with PTSD Joan as well as the hope for recovery. Awareness and education are certainly important steps in the healing process. I’m so sorry for all the abuse you endured but am celebrating your courageous victory and healing path you have chosen. Blessings, Kathy

    • jzrart says:

      Kathy, Thanks so much for your kind words. A big part of the healing process has been writing about my challenges. It seems that once I started pouring it out, honesty arrived on my doorstep and much of the pain has dissapeared.

  2. lori says:

    My therapist says ‘trauma trumps all’ as far as explaining emotional issues. Like you, I also had difficulty accepting a ptsd diagnosis, it seemed so dramatic. But now that I understand trauma and am dealing with it’s aftermath more effectively – the term doesn’t matter anymore. Thanks for sharing this honest, insightful post.

    • jzrart says:

      Thanks, Lori. I think it takes acceptance and understanding before we can forget the label and move on with our lives. It takes courage which is not easy to come by. But when the time comes for us to let go, it just seems to happen.

  3. Ashana M says:

    Thanks for passing that on.

    It’s funny that no therapist has ever in my life mentioned PTSD as a diagnosis. I have no idea why. It’s abundantly clear that the core of everything that plagues me is trauma. The last time I saw a diagnosis from a therapist (for insurance purposes), I had an “adjustment disorder.” I’ve also been diagnosed with depression.

    • jzrart says:

      Ashana, It seems that many therapists don’t look beyond depression and anxiety or tie them together in a way that makes sense. What I like so much about Michelle Rosenthal’s story, is that she finally took it upon herself to figure it out and then found counselors and therapists who were willing to listen and appreciate what she had learned. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of them were like that?

      • Ashana M says:

        I will have to read it, definitely. I don’t understand sometimes why more people don’t recognize how very little we really know the mind, trauma, or recovery and that we could all benefit by really listening deeply to one another.

  4. Sharon says:

    As always, you educate through your writing. You are right – PTSD comes in many forms and causes many problems and yet is only thought about in extreme circumstances, such as terrorist attacks. I have learned that you can get PTSD from the violations upon the body by the health care industry – the very people who should be the safest haven. Thanks for sharing your story and the resources.

    • jzrart says:

      Thanks Sharon. Indeed, it’s true. Though I think that it is not due to wanting to cause harm. It’s that often the health care community is missinformed, uneducated, and unable to say, “We don’t know how to help you.”

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