Many people, especially members of the military and first-responders, suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A simple definition is: a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world.*
In my work as Chaplain for the Owasso Fire Department, I often see the aftermath of PTSD. Occasionally, a single severe incident can bring on PTSD. But more often, PTSD develops as first responders experience one incident after another and do not, or cannot, process the bad experience before another is overlaid upon it. After years of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and possibly even tasting all kinds of horrifying or disgusting events, the brain rebels and PTSD begins to set in. Among many other symptoms, those affected by trauma can experience depression, anxiety and a decreased compassionate response to others. In other words, sadness, worry and a detachment from your own feelings and the feelings of others, becomes a “new normal.”
Although few of us actually exhibit all the symptoms required to be diagnosed with PTSD, our life experiences, piled one on top of another, can also cause us to operate from an unhealthy “new normal.”
First responders and those in the military are notorious for resisting help in recovery from PTSD. The truth behind their reluctance is the fact that they choose their current suffering over anything that will bring old memories back into focus. Even though there are proven psychiatric methods that can reduce or even eliminate PTSD symptoms, they would prefer the demon they know over that which is unknown or experienced.
Not surprisingly, we are the same way.
Almost everyone I know can look back on their lives and testify to experiences of abandonment, abuse, loss, neglect, or rejection. Unhealed, these experiences fester and, over time, cause us to make decisions, not from a healthy perspective, but from an unhealthy “new normal.”
Even though we know that, through prayer, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, we fear the unknown and cling to our unhealthy “new normal.” We would prefer to remain depressed, anxious, and dulled to our feelings and the needs of others because our issues make us fear that God doesn’t love us THAT much and won’t help us. Therefore, our issues have damaged our faith in the love and saving grace in Jesus Christ.
If this article has struck a chord with you, don’t allow the enemy to keep you sidelined in your “new normal.” Face your hurt and fear, talk to any of our clergy, allow us to pray for you and allow the LORD to exercise His glorious power within and restore you to His definition of normal.
*The National Institute of Mental Health has a very good article for those wishing to know more about PTSD