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Healing PTSD Through Writing

Updated on February 13, 2010

Writing Helps Ease PTSD

Writing can help us find meaning in our PTSD suffering. Indeed, writing can help us discover meaning in all of our experiences, not just the traumatic ones that gave us our PTSD. I can write about certain experiences in my military history, or I might write a poem about suffering, or I may write music that celebrates life. In each case the act of writing will help me heal a little bit more from my PTSD.

Science Cannot Provide Meaning

PTSD symptoms and behavior can be minimized through the traditional medical channels of pharmacology. While those medication options can make our PTSD easier to bear, they do not get to the root of the problems. Science and medicine are wonderful for what they can do, but alas, they cannot provide us with meaning.

Writing as Voyage of Discovery

The physical act of writing is an organic healing process. There is even a hierarchy of healing in the work of writing itself.

1. Writing by hand on paper with pen or pencil

2. Writing using a keyboard or typewriter

3. Writing by using voice processing software

Now, your mileage may vary when it comes to the healing process we associate with writing. In my own personal experience, and based on conversations with other PTSD survivors, this ordering seems to be valid.

It is an act of courage to write down what is eating at my soul. But by writing I take control of the PTSD. I discover the meaning of some of my suffering as I write and rewrite.

Writing by Hand or Voice Powered Software?

Voice processing software allows those who are unable to use their hands well to write. Sometimes my own health situation is such that I can only use voice processing software to write. One can purchase Dragon Naturally Speaking voice processing software. One can also use the software that is built into some of the Windows platforms like Vista. (It is not in every version of Vista, so you have to check).

In my experience both Dragon Naturally Speaking and the software bundled into Vista work equally well. Thinking and speaking out loud, as opposed to thinking and writing are two different processes. In terms of PTSD healing I find the former to be more effective. Just as one must draft and rewrite in the
“writing by hands” method, the same is true when using voice software – one still has to draft and edit the work.

Gut Wrenching Non-Fiction is Not The Requirement

I spent a couple of decades not being to articulate my military experiences. In fact, there are still some I cannot talk about. But I found in writing and artwork, I could express some of my identity, experience, and suffering. Eventually, writing allowed me to begin to talk about and then teach about the spiritual dimensions of PTSD.

The first stuff I wrote was not non-fiction memoir about my personal history. I wrote poems and short stories. It was only auto-biographical to a slim degree. But it allowed me to write what my PTSD was like. It allowed me to write about, pain, suffering, betrayal, suicide, staying alive, and ultimately celebrating all that is life.

In that writing I found meaning and the will to stay alive. Many people are surprised to discover that in writing fiction, we often tell the real truth. After all, Jesus used parables, which are made up stories that tell the truth.

Content and Actual Act of Writing Promote Life

The content of my writing was such that I was able to let the pressure ever so slowly out of my PTSD balloon without bursting. But the very act of writing itself was also healing. Therapist and other experts often speak to how writing as an activity, as something we do, is therapeutic in and of itself.

Writing Can Be Private or Public

You don’t have to share your writing and you don’t have to publish it. Just write for the sheer healing liberation that comes from writing. Keep a journal and/or take a writing class. There are plenty of free writing courses, and you can also take paid online workshops. I’ve done some of those and they are a safe community for me to learn to be a better writer and to also have a safe group of non-toxic people to share with.

The publishing works can be vicious, so think about if you are ready for the harsh treatment it enjoys dishing out. But if you write for yourself, then it is a safe way to heal from part of your PTSD.

PTSD Spirituality

If writing to heal from PTSD interests you, or if the spiritual dimensions of the PTSD soul wound interest you, then please stop by my website for a visit. Semper Pax, Dr. Z


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