What PTSD Taught Me About Friendship

Having a genuine friend is vital to having a healthy life.  Many studies, as well as life experience, teaches us that friendship is healthy spiritually, physically and emotionally.  I am not talking about people who are acquaintances or people you are friendly to at the office.  I mean a friend who you can tell anything and if they disagree with your thoughts they will not abandon you or be pissed off for years because you told them something that may have offended them.

I have also learned that in order to have good friends you must be a good friend.  The traits of genuine friends are patience, kindness, understanding, deferential treatment, and faithfulness.  Friendship also includes making time for your friend.  In American culture, time is the most precious thing we have.  Making time for friends is a very tangible way to make your relationship stronger and more valuable to both of you.

The need for a friend or friends is universal.  The need to have a genuine friend is not only universal but for those who suffer from PTSD, it is absolutely necessary.  Our trauma came about in the community and our healing must come through the community.  By community, I mean with and around people.  For years I was “locked” away in my head.  Many times I have locked myself away from the community literally. My behavior made it very difficult for me to consistently be a good friend.  I was too busy trying to stay alive in the midst of never ceasing paranoia and hypervigilance. At some point, we must be willing to walk into the fear and a friend will walk through it with you.  I believe it is wise for the PTSD sufferer to be honest with their friends and let them know not only what is going on with you but what they can expect vis-a-vis your PTSD and how they can help you.  If you suffer flashbacks or temporary loss of rationality this is even more important.  This isn’t the time to be “independent.”  We cannot heal in isolation.  I also learned that if you want a friend you must be willing to walk through the fear and not give into the temptation to isolate.  Your friend should have permission to gently encourage you to not isolate.  You must choose not ditch them because they are trying to reintroduce you to normal activity.  It is also crucial that your friend understands that sometimes you won’t be able to do the activities that people find so stress-free and common.  Your friend should never judge you.  They must be willing to sit with you as you suffer.  IOften times words are not even necessary.  Just having someone there in silence is often times the best we can do.

I believe it is wise for the PTSD sufferer to be honest with their friends and let them know not only what is going on with you but what they can expect vis-a-vis your PTSD and how they can help you.  If you suffer flashbacks or temporary loss of rationality this is even more important.  This isn’t the time to be “independent.”  We cannot heal in isolation.  I also learned that if you want a friend you must be willing to walk through the fear and not give into the temptation to isolate.  Your friend should have permission to gently encourage you to not isolate.  You must choose not ditch them because they are trying to reintroduce you to normal activity.  It is also crucial that your friend understands that sometimes you won’t be able to do the activities that people find so stress-free and common.  Your friend should never judge you.  They must be willing to sit with you as you suffer.  Often times words are not even necessary.  Just having someone there in silence is often times the best we can do.

It is important for you to be able to be 100% open and honest with your friends.  It is also important to realize that you will most likely run into someone who can’t handle or simply doesn’t have the time or inclination to walk someone through painful and messy healing.  That is ok.  That doesn’t mean that person is bad.  It just means that they become an acquaintance and that is just fine.  Be aware that you may get hurt,  Just do your best to be at peace with all people and simply move on.

I have had the blessing of having an incredibly patient and understanding wife.  My PTSD hurt her.  My PTSD scared her.  My PTSD confused her.  My PTSD angered her.  My PTSD caused her to think differently of herself.  Through all of that PTSD never caused her to quit!!  I will forever owe her a debt that cannot be repaid.  I literally owe her my life.  I also am lucky enough to have another friend in addition to my wife.  My friend has been willing to take my call at all hours.  My friend has often sacrificed his own time and activities so he could be with me.  My friend speaks well of me when I am not there,  he has always had my back.  He knows my entire story.  He is loyal and faithful!

If you are a person of faith then pray that God would bring you such a friend.  If not reach out to someone you trust or to someone you think you can trust.  Those people exist….I promise.

We must also be a good and loyal friend.  You may not be able to function at 100% during your sickness but you can choose to honest, vulnerable, faithful and present to their needs to a degree.

Continue to fight the lie always!

Mutiny In The Country Club

Inmates at  The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware are protesting. Well, they are actually rioting.  Breaking news evolves and details often change but as of now, the inmates have guards held hostage and control at least one building at The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware.

Riots and violence are wrong. Innocent people often die in these situations.  I hope and pray that the inmates release all hostages and that this comes to a peaceful end.  I don’t think that it will end peacefully.

It is easy to understand why these inmates are rioting.  The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware holds approx. 2500 inmates.  Delaware has a very strident three strike law.  Often these state prisons are overcrowded hellholes.  Often many of these inmates are incarcerated for non-violent offenses and/or offenses that could and should be corrected in a much more humane manner.

Delaware prisons have been in the news lately.  The Department of corrections in Delaware still feeds assaultive inmates the famed food loaf.  Food loaf is an entire meal blended up into a loaf and baked.  It is a modern day bread and water.

For my friends who don’t believe that many people in state and federal prisons system are non-violent I have included just one story. Kenneth Smith has been in prison for 18 years and he will die in prison.  He is a victim of the three strike law.  Here is his story.

I believe people who are a threat to society should be punished and in many cases incarcerated.  It is high time to stop locking up people who don’t deserve to be there.  I am well acquainted with what goes down in prisons.  Let’s stop filling our jails with offenders that can be rehabilitated in a more effective manner.  Taking a man’s liberty and then locking him in a cage for years serves the interest of no one.