PTSD can manifest itself in many ways.
1) A life-threatening event. This includes a perceived-to-be life-threatening event. …
2) Internal reminders of the event. These symptoms typically present as nightmares or flashbacks.
3) Avoidance of external reminders. …
4) Altered anxiety state. …
5) Changes in mood or thinking.
Because people might expect these signs to come on right after the event, they may not know what is happening if symptoms manifest 6 month after when the trauma might have been long past.
One of the best methods in addition to medication and other forms of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy for PTSD AND anxiety.
It is in short a system that allows people to stop troubling or racing thoughts (that result from changes in mood and altered anxiety state that really can distort the way we normally think and challenge), and replace those thoughts with better ones.
For example, an individual might blame themselves for things that were out of their control or others that may not in reality be responsible. They may also have a fear of objects places or people that trigger anxiety or avoidance of the trauma. The bible has been an invaluable tool in helping me personally to combat anxiety during these times because the bible goes to the most stable part of our being and that is our faith.
Our faith is a powerful weapon against fear, trauma, and anxiety because it takes the focus off of us to solve problems when we feel powerless, and plugs us into a God who can provide solutions to our problems because he is all-powerful. If anyone is reading this who might feel they are suffering from symptoms of PTSD or anxiety over the troubling things they see around them, (or are experiencing first hand) I want you to stop and find a quiet place to think.
Allow what is bothering you to come to the surface and then mentally stop the thought that is troubling you and examine it. Take it apart and make it stand trial against reasonable questioning. Will what has happened or what I am afraid of threatening me at this moment? Am I safe at this moment? Why am I safe at this moment? What help do I have at this moment that is guaranteed and accessible to me right now?
Before this thought becomes stressful to you recall scripture to mind that can command a believer to not be anxious about what we are suffering.
Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Remind yourself that these are not suggestions. If it were not safe to believe this OR if it were impossible for us to surrender our worry and anxiety to God (to yield to him in these moments) then would God would have spoken through the prophets and Jesus in the bible? “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
If we are worried about whether or not God is still with us remember, “Do not fear because God is with you (Deut. 31:6). 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
If we have trouble in believing that God loves us then believe that he loved his perfectly righteous son whom he gave for us in order that we might be saved. This is an immutable fact!
None of us are outside of God’s love (unless we have taken the mark of the beast or are unrepentant sinners) and we should not let our environment dictate where God is or is not in our lives. God is above our thoughts and is not subject to the whims of our environment and therefore sees clearly what to do, and more importantly when to do it for each of us. Despite whether or not we are capable of seeing it ourselves during a crisis.
What we perceive as changes in our life may ultimately have little to no bearing on what God thinks of us and we should not use our present circumstances as a measure of what our relationship with God is presently. Job and his situation is a good example. We should also praise God in our difficulty because we may be going through tribulation and have a unique opportunity to show what the faith of righteous man when he trusts God is capable of Proverbs 27:11 Be wise, my son, and make my (Jehovah\’s) heart rejoice, So that I can make a reply to him (Satan) who taunts me.
What I also like to do is grab a list of scriptures that outline what my obligations are to God as a believer in that I “must” wait on him patiently, pray constantly, and do everything reasonably possible to resolve my problems and (up to and) following that, rely on God.
In reality, I must as a human being acknowledge my limitations and imperfections in that I was not created to navigate any aspect of my life without guidance. No believer should blame themselves when they are confronted with situations in which there is no clear solution. Sometimes one of the hardest things to do as a believer is to wait when you have no other cards to play and you have done everything that you can “Reasonably do” in your situation.
Psalm 46:10 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
I like to remind myself that God is with me even when I make financial, ethical, moral, or any other decisions because he knows I am imperfect. God has promised to help me in any situation I find myself in regardless of how I got there if I come to him with a sincere and humble spirit. If I am willing to yield control and simply acknowledge the reality that my problems are bigger than I feel I can navigate them, and that it would be short-sighted of me to not believe (the reality) that God is waiting and has already helped me. God has and always will help me even if I do not always understand what is happening or know how to plan my next steps.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do so much more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
One of the most valuable features of what I will jokingly call “Spiritual Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” is that it stops thoughts from producing a stress response. Stress responses in of themselves are a gift. The mind takes information in and if the mind decides you are in danger or need to act, the body prepares itself in that your senses become very focused, your body releases glucose and energy stores, muscles tense, cortisol is released. This happens because your body is preparing to defend itself. But when we are actually in no present danger (but experiences stress remembering trauma or fear we will be in it) this process wears the body out, and leaves the individual in an aroused and exhausted state and unable to have energy and resources to deal with other problems they may face.
Our stressful situations may be one that lasts longer than we ourselves have the resources to endure becoming chronic responses to how we are feeling. This will become depleting and will exhaust our internal and external resources. It is vital that we plug ourselves into an inexhaustible resource that is God through prayer and supplication as we can and will give out if our trials exceed our ability to cope. But God can through prayer refill our depleted resources both physical, emotional and spiritual if we rely on him. But also keep in mind that trial and stress can produce good as unlikely as it may seem.
Romans 5:3-4 ESV More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
When we feel a stressful thought the body sometimes has problems recognizing whether it’s in genuine trouble and this is the problem with PTSD as our bodies are acting on what our mind has determined to be real. Imagine that one kid in your class that sets the fire alarms off when there is no fire. The whole school scrambles and responds in order to get to safety. Well if this happens at unexpected times and quite often you can imagine the stress this would cause. Imagine if the school had cameras and could see Billy triggering the fire alarm and could tell everyone it's ok, it's just Billy again, the response would be very different.
This is why I urge everyone to keep a few things in mind when coping with stress and PTSD. Stress responses are normal even if you have PTSD. God knew this when he made us. What he has called us to keep in mind though is that while we are in Satan’s system, Satan knows that he can trigger our fire alarms if we let him. But keep in mind that when we reflect on God, his promises, and our faith, that even when we are not in control, God is always in control. We can then isolate and manage our stress responses scrutinizing when we have thoughts and feelings of panic or alarm in order to determine when we are in actual danger of a fire and when Billy is setting the fire alarms off.
Remember always there are limits to what we as humans can do. We can’t read other peoples minds, we can't predict the future, but we do have an obligation to do what we can to be obedient to our faith, and that God sees us and has not let go of us even when we think we are in a hopeless and desperate situation.
This is an unprecedented time for me and probably many from my generation. But what I have learned through this ordeal is that we have a higher calling to defend our faith through our acts of kindness to one another, to show compassion to ourselves in being patient with our limitations, and to rest firmly on God and his absolute guarantees of salvation for not only the greatest of us but also the least. May God’s blessings and kindness be with every one of my brothers and sisters out there who are still hanging on and keeping their faith. I love all of you.