This is Virginia with the Soldier's Guide to PTSD and I want to talk about choosing to get treatment for PTSD or moral injury.
To help with this, I want to introduce you to the "Big 2" questions: (1) do I believe change is possible? and (2) do I want to change?
These are the big two questions we need to ask and answer in a brutally honest way before we start our journey back from PTSD or Moral Injury.
With question one we need to ask ourselves, do I believe that it is possible that I can recover from my PTSD symptoms and reclaim my life? We know that's what we want, but with Q1 we have to ask ourselves is this possible for me?
The second question is a little more pesky because we have to ask ourselves (and honestly answer): do I want to recover from PTSD and am I willing to do the work that it's going to take? Am I willing to get out of my comfort zone and do something different because that's what it takes to get better?
These are difficult questions to answer, so let's not pretend they are easy. Choosing to go through treatment involves risk. It requires working with another person, a licensed treatment professional, and choosing to be authentic with them. This requires us to be vulnerable and expose our truth to another person.
The reason we ask the big two questions is that no therapist, no research, no blog posts — no one and no thing outside of ourselves — can convince us something is true when we fundamentally believe it is not.
This is a hard truth, but I'm not in the bullshit business. I am a therapist. The truth is that if we do not believe change is possible, we are absolutely correct.
I recognize that it's far more likely you're on the fence about the Big 2, and you just don't know right now. Take it easy on yourself; it is 100% okay not to feel all in.
Instead I'll ask you this: is it possible that you're stronger than you think you are?
Have you ever done something before that was hard or you felt was impossible at the time? Is it possible that your symptoms are undermining your attempts to make changes? Would you be willing to try tosee if you're stronger than you think you are?
As of this writing there are three evidence-based treatments for PTSD that are approved by the VA: prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, and EMDR. They work for most people most of the time. It's not easy, but it's not forever either. It's 8 to 12 sessions. This means that if you're working with a therapist every week that's 2 to 3 months.
Even if you're not sure if you're all in, I encourage you to learn more about your PTSD symptoms and available treatments. We've created a Free Workbook to help you identify your symptoms so that you can make an informed decision to reclaim your life from PTSD and Moral Injury.