What do you think when you hear the term “post traumatic stress”? I used to think very little of it. It was something that veterans had, or something that “those kinds of people” get. You know, the kind of people who just live rough lives. It was for those kinds of people who live overseas in slavery. Whatever else, I thought it was something that would never effect the world immediately around me. God had a different idea.
I won’t go into all the details of how I acquired this compound trauma. Very few people know the full history, and I don’t bother telling it because I have found that when I begin people stiffen and look terribly uncomfortable. So I usually stick to the one aspect that on Valentine’s Day 2007 I was hit by a gravel truck and a semi whilst on the freeway, and it pacifies most inquiries. But let me answer a few ideas that tend to raise themselves in people’s minds when they come face to face with me, who am now “one of those people.”
If I could help people understand one thing about post traumatic stress, I would make clear the fact that trauma to this level is not something people can just “get over.” People repeatedly tell me to let go, forgive, forget, and just stop being so proud, holding onto past injury. My dear friends, when the gravel truck hit me I immediately spoke to the owner of the company, asking that the driver, who was fully penitent, keep his job. I knew from the beginning it was an accident. When post traumatic stress sets in, it is unlike anything else a person can experience. It takes your mind and squeezes it into a vice. Your mind is completely locked down and you become incapable of feeling any emotion at all. The only emotion I retained was compassion. Everything else I had to relearn over months and even years, and I have not finished relearning all the emotions I lost. There is a very marked difference between someone who is voluntarily holding on to a grudge and the exquisite agony of living with post traumatic stress. When this illness, and it is an illness, sets in, your soul feels ripped away from you and no amount of forgiveness or humility on your own part can remove the condition. Forgiveness, however, will help you to emotionally heal to a great extent and it is a powerful tool against further mental damage.
We all have varied experiences. I am grateful to have experienced this, because by it I have learned so much. I enjoy listening to experiences of others and I strive to learn from them. I am grateful not only that God blessed me with this trauma but also that He made it that no medication would adequately effect me. Terrible as it sounds, it afforded me the opportunity to rebuild my mind solidly, piece by piece and understand the workings of the brain in an incredible manner, which I could not have done had I been leaning on the narcotics prescribed. I still believe that God is kind and understanding and that all things happen for a wise purpose in Him.