- Mental Health»
Where do counseling and medications fit into a Christians life?
I suffer from PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). I guess it came from a lot of bad things that have happened over time. I have been to counseling in the past. I have had a counselor that I really liked name Dan. He understood that in order for me to take this seriously I had to understand the ins and outs of all of it. So our first sessions covered the basics with a diagnosis. I already was diagnosed with PTSD/Anxiety before but I didn't believe it. Counselor Dan confirmed the diagnosis. He agreed to teach me the fundamentals of what PTSD was and how it affects the brain. I really took it in all seriousness when I was able to understand that not only was the trauma a factor but that the trauma re-wired my brain. He spent a while explaining how PTSD, anxiety, and the mind all tied into a hot mess of me. Counselor Dan wouldn't go into descriptive details until I had a prescription plan for unraveling. So I seen the psychiatrist and she prescribed me Lorazepam, Prozac, Xanax, and Clonazepam. I had to get the Prozac in my system for a week before we dug in. He explained that the medication was to help the feelings and flashbacks that occur after reliving the trauma with the counselor. I agreed and seen him for a little over a year. I learned breathing techniques and how to stay away from triggers. I eventually ended not being able to see him anymore because I had different insurance and his office only accepted DSHS.
I had a lady counselor after that named Barb. She was a what she called a PTSD specialist. She was very soft spoken and was careful not to get too close to my physical body. I am assuming she did that as some people with PTSD may lash out in violence in the event of a flashback. When she took me into her office she asked me if I believed in God. I looked at her like she had 3 heads. Why is a counselor asking me such a personal question? Is that her business? Why can't she just treat the damn PTSD and speak a little louder? So I answered her and said "No, not really, I am more of an atheist." She replied letting me know she was just wondering because if I did she could incorporate that into my therapy. She continued to tell me about this great breakthrough on PTSD treatment and she would like to try it on me. I had her explain it to me and I thought she was nuts herself. The therapy is called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy). What I remember is she had me hold prongs in my hand and she had me discuss a traumatic event and how it made me feel. Then she would start saying positive remarks as the prongs lightly shocked my hands. It was an interesting technique but I wasn't the best candidate as I have Fibromyalgia and it was so painful to do that treatment. So I seen her a couple more times and my flashbacks and nightmares got worse. She had me admitted into an inpatient facility for a week. That was the last time I ever went to see her.
Since then I have done my best to stay away from my triggers and counselors as well. I didn't like the way the all the pills made me feel so I traded them in for alcohol. That was working or at least I think it was but now I no longer drink nor do I consider myself to be an atheist. Now I am fully dedicating my life to the Lord. Jesus Christ has saved me. I am learning a whole new way of life and my anxiety levels are lower. There really is something to be said for trusting that the all powerful mighty God has your back in all situations. I am working on a closer relationship with God and studying his word often.
In this change of my life I still have questions. What do I do if I suffer another panic attack? Do I reach for a pill or do I take it to the Lord. I know a lot of Christians would say "of course you take it to Lord". I want to agree with this. I haven't had this situation since I stopped drinking and following Christ. I do still have flashbacks like when I smell a certain fragrance or when I travel to a certain place. My biggest trigger is hearing a man yell. That one is what gets me every time. My husband, thankfully is a soft spoken man. I do stay away from my triggers the best I can but life still goes on around me and I haven't yet conquered my triggers. I have learned what they are and how to stay away but it still happens. I will be minding my own business and then out of no where is a man yelling sounding very angry. I instantly move backwards and have to place myself. What I mean by place myself is that I have to remind myself of where I physically am and where the yelling is coming from. When I do that my brain then kicks into action and I have to help someone fast before the person yelling winds up harming whom they are yelling at. While I am coming up with a plan to interfere and save someone I am having flashbacks of being harmed by a man. So my brain has me convinced that someone is being harmed the same way I was. This happened last night, A neighbor was yelling aggressively and I have my husband come with me over there to see who needs help. In my head I already know exactly what is going and I plan to stop it. I march over there as if I am a soldier and I confront one of the neighbors while my heart is still racing and my brain is still conjuring up awful images. So......come to find out it was a drunk deaf man and he was being unruly. I felt better knowing that's all it was, but it does leave the question. Have I really dealt with my PTSD or did I mask it with alcohol and distractions? Would it be a good idea to get back into counseling? Maybe seek some of the meds that help me with the fight or flight? What do Christians do when they deal with a brain that's wired like a mickey moused toaster? I am not sure yet so I will study and ask the pastors at church what their opinion is. I don't believe God intends for me to jump into situations under the influence of a flashback. The bible says " Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Phil 4:6) So for now I will continue to pray and learn and love. I will find the answer that works for me.
If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD here is some helpful links.