PTSD and writing about it - good idea?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Steely, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Hello all -

    I have a rather large dilemma, and I was hoping you guys could possibly offer some insight?

    As I mentioned in my other post, and as you know, I have had an enormous amount of stress in the last 5 years. Just in the last 3 months, I got fired, my dad has weeks to live, my dog died, and difficult child is back in the same city as me. So obviously the stress in ongoing - and I have had to take some time off of pursuing another career in order to lasso in my sanity.

    I thought that my solution to finding my sanity was to finish my memoir I started 6 years ago, but stopped 4 years ago. I had written from the time period of 16, through my first abusive marriage and I had to stop. I literally could not write about the pain that difficult child brought up, so I put down the book. Meanwhile more intense stress, with my sister suddenly dying, and a new career, and moving to AZ, and I have not picked up a pen in 4 years.

    I have always believed, deeply and profoundly, that if I could write down all that has happened to me that I would be free from SO much of the pain that haunts me. However, as I start to try to write again I am having huge PTSD issues. Flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, etc. I am seeing a Dr and therapist here in AZ tomorrow - which is all fine and dandy - but my real question remains:

    Is it the right thing to do, to drudge up all the triggering memories and events, and truly process through them until they no longer ignite terror in me or have power over me? Or is it best to just bury the past, the book, and the memories and move on?

    I welcome all opinions and I just want to move on and finally have a free and happy life.:)
  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    You've said how much trust you have in your therapist, I really think she would be the one to ask. If you want to ask yourself, weigh your pain, your ability to get through the pain with and without help from doctor and therapist against how much you think the book could help other people. There's a lot of lip service given to PTSD on TV and whatnot, but very little mainstream things that truly can express the experience to someone that has never lived it.
    If you think it would help you more to finish it, you could also consider donating copies to women's shelters and libraries.
  3. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hey Hon! I have to say that in my humble opinion, you answered your own question. You wrote the following statement "process through them until they no longer ignite terror in me or have power over me". HOWEVER: You need to value YOU before you put pen to paper. See, I get the feeling that you still don't view yourself as the beautiful, sensitive, strong, resourceful woman that you are. Probably because of the abusive relationships and having, for so many years, to live in what I call a "reactive" mode. You have always had to change course because of the impacts that others have forced upon you. Take a look at this book: "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz.

    Basically the 4 agreements are:

    1. Be impeccable with your word - speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

    2. Dont take anything personally - Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and di is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

    3. Don't make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, dadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

    4. Always do your best - Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

    Truthfully, this book was recommended to me today, and I've started it already. Extremely interesting.

    I've known your for a while Steely - I'm probably one of your biggest cheerleaders. I don't think you'll be happy if you blow off the book entirely. I just think you need to reach a certain "state of grace" - love yourself, care about you, and allow yourself to heal a little more before you end up freaking yourself out with memories that you're not quite ready to deal with.

    I hope you know that it's with care and respect that I'm offering my 2 cents!

  4. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    Personally, I believe in burying things but that doesn't always work. I have been able to bury my childhood and adolescence, H's cheating not at all. I don't even feel safe writing about that.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, I have lots of issues with ptsd and trauma but Im not a writer at heart. I do sometimes blurt stuff out on here or in emails but I dont think that is the same thing.

    Personally I dont think burying stuff is good because it has a way of coming up at some point. I have found that I have remembered things that happened to me that I had stuffed but when something else happened...that memory came out. It was helpful that I was in therapy at the time.

    I think maybe the best idea would be to write on a general level and then see if maybe you could go back and do revisions as you feel ready to tackle more intense issues. Kind of like say...Well in third grade I was 8 and went to Mrs Parkers class and we lived on peach street. Nothing more. When you are could go back and say...well...when I was 8, something else a bit worse was going on...or maybe something better. Dont know.
  6. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    This is something you might want to discuss with your therapist, and perhaps continue writing in conjunction with your work with the therapist. For me, I've found that deliberately recalling past abuse
    and painful events definitely triggers PTSD and instead of processing through the memories, the more I think about them, the more they trigger me. I've found that acknowledging their existence but
    choosing not to revisit them unless with a therapist is the best course for me. If writing is a good release for you but the current part of your memoir is tough, your therapist may be able to help you
    process as you go, so that the memories indeed have no more power over you - or at least you are able to control your reactions to them and stay focused on your current achievements. Just my
    thoughts - ymmv.