Veteran Day just passed and there were discussions again about how psychologists may help with PTSD. Some people argued that only a person who has overcome this disorder him/herself would be equipped with the right tools to help others in that field.
I DISAGREE !
But I think it is necessary for a psychologist or psycho therapist to dive deeply into the topic of war itself to be able to understand a veteran.
War accompanied me my whole life long because I’m part of the generation touched by this topic through parents, grandparents and great grandparents. From a systemic point of view some members of the generations before me in a systemic way expected me to finish some of their unfinished businesses as soldiers during war times. Bert Hellinger (Systemic Family Constellation Therapy / Acknowledging what is / Movements of the Soul) said it would not be unusual for a little child to dream about unknown and scary things that have to do with war whenever the ancestors were involved in those terrible events. Dr. Mahr tells us the story about a 4-year-old girl with sleeping problems about monsters attacking her. Art therapy showed that this girl war drawing a gas mask like it was used in WWI in Verdun during the poisonous gas attacks. It turned out that two of her relatives, two generations ago were wounded April 24th 1915; she was born on April 24th 1991.
I had nightmares for over 20 years from early years on and they were always the same. I was a male soldier in an infantry troop and we were walking through a bush. We just wanted to leave the protection of the trees when suddenly there was a loud noise and we had to quickly lay down because tanks were rolling along a gravel road that was on one side framed by the bush and on the other side by open field. My first reaction was to freeze and stare at the big chains only perhaps 1 metre away from me. Then after the last tank has passed our commander yelled the order to cross the open field as quickly as we can. My heart was racing, I was sweating and I started to run. There were shells going down everywhere around me, my head was hammering and I started crying while I was running. I was praying “please let me get out of here, please help me, please”; I was so scared and then something hit me. There was so much pain and I knew I would die…. and I woke up. It always took me hours to fall asleep again. Everything was so real. I didn’t talk about it because war still put pressure on my parents. The dreams ended after a Systemic Family Constellation that allowed me to honour my ancestors for their courage to fight and give their lives for their country and asking them to let me go on with my life here and now.
My mother told me about the bomb attacks, the loud sirens interrupting her sleep sometimes several times during the night, her claustrophobic fear in the dark little air raid shelters and the consistent worries about leaving the shelter and only seeing fragments of what has been her home. Since those experiences she was a nervous wreck and it got worse with every year because the more she tried to forget about it the more it surfaced. Of course I didn’t understand it at that time. I was only wondering why my bedroom had to be darkened in addition to our blinds with duct tape.
My father refused to talk about the topic “war” but his mother, my grandma told me her traumatic story again and again: “I met your grandpa when I was working at a little bed and breakfast as a housemaid. He left a little note under the mattress and I answered it and left it there for him. A fascinating exchange of nice words started and it took two weeks till he asked me out for dinner. He had an administrative job but his passion was the piano and so he accompanied the still movies as a pianist. We only had a short carefree and happy time together because the war started and he was called up to join the infantry. We quickly married and I soon was pregnant with your father and after my husband was home during his first leave I got pregnant with your uncle. There was nobody with me when I gave birth to my sons and I always was scared that your grandpa couldn’t see his boys any more. But he came home for another leave and we spent happy days together with our children. Before he left he wrote me a poem saying that I should wait for him because he promised to come back. But he didn’t. They informed me that he was missing in Russia. Shortly after I got this terrifying message we were ordered to pack what we can carry and leave our home town because the Russian troops were coming closer and closer and where they have been they had raped women and killed the residents of whole villages. So, I said good-bye to everything I loved and filled a back pack with the most necessary items for survival. I grabbed the hands of my sons and rushed to the railway-station. There were so many people who wanted to flee from the Russians that we lost our first fight to get on the train. So we laid down among all the other people and tried to sleep because the next train would not arrive until tomorrow. I never let go of my sons’ hands because children could got lost so easily in that crowd of hundreds of people. I was praying to God all the time. The next day we caught the train out…..” After losing everything my grandma started her new life in Rosenheim (the city I was born), in a street called “New Home” No. 1. My father and my uncle had to grow up without a father and a traumatic experience they both wanted to forget. 11 years after the war my grandma found out from the Russian White Cross that her beloved husband had died in a Russian Prisoner of War Camp…..
Years later as a teenager I suddenly became very interested in everything about the Vietnam War. I didn’t know why but I researched whatever I could find about the soldiers and nurses who have been there. I cried about their stories and everything seemed so close and touching as if there was a connection to those people who lived across the ocean from me. I was angry at all the Americans at home who wouldn’t welcome the veterans as heroes who risked their lives for their country and I was angry at the US Government because they killed their own people “by mistake” and chemicals like Agent Orange. I was angry that all the doctors and nurses were forgotten who served the same courageous way as the soldiers. I was touched by the USO shows in combat zones to help the soldiers to at least get away from all the cruelty for some hours.
After all that I feel much closer to a veteran than many psychologist who only learned about therapies and their techniques theoretically.
It’s fact that nobody can erase or forget a traumatic experience and/or mortal terror but it can be released and healed so that it can be remembered without the emotional involvement that is so overwhelming and destroying.
The best therapies for PTSD are EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Systemic Constellations. They both are quick and solution oriented and can be applied gently.
Dear Veterans, I would like to encourage you to give those therapies a try and put an end to being haunted by trauma for the rest of your life! I’m proud of you!
Call for your Skype Session now! Phone 204-636-7787!