Are you a veteran with disabilities? Do you struggle with substance abuse, flashbacks, thoughts of self harm or moral injury? Are you seeking a therapist that understands the nuances in your culture? Are you active duty transitioning to civilian life?
Certified Clinical Military Counselors (CCMC) focus on mending the mind, body, and spirit which has much to do with developing one’s resiliency traits, finding meaning and purpose in life, and transforming one’s character and heart to fight a new battle for optimal well-being.
The transition from active duty to civilian life requires a “GPS” to navigate this major life change. You may find yourself feeling increasingly isolated and hopeless to explain what you are enduring. You feel there is no way out, you are carrying the memories with you, and it is affecting your relationships and ability to reset to calm/joy. What if there’s a way for you to restore your sense of belonging and purpose stateside? What if the triggers no longer held the power they once did, and you no longer have to be triggered into a survival mindset?
In theatre, a state of constant vigilance is necessary; in fact, it is part of what helped you survive. You find that it is producing problems when you return home. The memories of trauma, whether consciously recognized or not, show up when you are functioning out of the survival mindset. This can be triggered by a familiar sound. For example, you may find yourself stateside and hear a noise that sounds like gunfire and you find yourself searching for the threat, heart pounding, sweating, and feel an inability to quiet your mind.
Experiencing negative and hurtful feelings, or painful memories is a natural cue from your mind, body, and spirit that you are not in balance. You need not place any values or judgments on negative emotions. We feel emotions because we are human beings.
Specific thoughts or feelings you have do not mean you have a disorder, that you are defective, or that there is something abnormal about you. This is a normal response to a “not normal” extraordinary stressful and traumatic event. As time goes on, you may never forget about our negative, stressful, or traumatic experiences, but they won’t always feel this intense or out-of-balance. Paying attention to the experiences of our mind-body-spirit provides opportunities for optimal growth and well-being.
When the time is right for you, verbalizing thoughts, feelings, and experiences to professional helpers and other people you trust will improve your overall mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Verbalizing thoughts, feelings, and experiences is a way to release unwanted energy. It does not mean you are weak. Sharing at the level you are most comfortable in the present moment is important for healing the mind, body, and spirit.
In fact, seeking help from others is quite normal and is a sign of strength and resiliency. Frankl is quoted in Man’s Search for Meaning “But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer”.
The first step in any journey is to show up. Everyone needs help with some task throughout life. As humans, we rarely live in total independence. We are dependent upon others in many life areas (e.g., transportation, housing, food, clothing, work). Holding-on, internalizing, and not sharing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences should not be a survival exercise. It is okay to accept help and support from others for a while until you feel more in balance. Even professional helpers need someone to talk with to help them in critical problem-solving. It is this spiritual freedom and freedom to make choices (i.e., cognitions, thinking, feeling patterns, actions, behaviors) that cannot be taken away even under the most brutal of circumstances. Finding meaning and purpose, knowing that you can make a choice in the present moment, and changing your attitude towards a critical life event can bring meaning back to your life.
Take the first step to no longer suffer in silence. You don’t have to continue feeling like you only fit and feel calm with those you served with and who understand what you have endured. It is possible to recover and reconnect with your friends and loved ones in a meaningful way.
VETERAN CRISIS LINE – 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
Tick, E. (2014). Warrior’s Return: Restoring the Soul After War. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. Weil, A. (2011). Spontaneous Happiness. New York: Little, Brown, and Company.