Friday, November 4, 2016

PTSD Thoughts

I studied psychology many moons ago when I was in university. During that time I learned about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Throughout the years I encountered it in various forms, mostly often through reading stories- people struggling with it from returning home from war, leaving an abusive relationship, or children being raised in horrific conditions. But this last year I've come face to face with it in massive proportions as I've been building friendships with so many people fleeing from war-torn areas. The stories they can tell, the things they've seen, the pain they've experienced, the suffering they are still enduring are mind blowing! I have lived through and witnessed some pretty dark stuff in my lifetime, but I often found myself completely speechless as I sat with my friends. I am not a trained counselor, and all that my friends that are would tell me is that it was best to not bring up the pain-filled memories until they were in a safe place. I know that is the textbook answer, but I couldn't do that as I would sit in their tents being shown pictures of horrors that words can't describe. So, I sought to enter in. I listened to stories, I looked at pictures, I asked questions, and I got messy with them. It seemed to me that that is what Love does.

A few days ago in the Istanbul airport I broke down in tears when I heard some people walk by speaking in Arabic. I was flashed back to my friends who are still sitting alone in the camps, waiting on some ridiculous process to decide their fate. This morning, as I sat in church, the pastor preached about second chances, and for some strange reason had a person drowning as his background picture to his presentation. Tears started rolling down my cheeks and it became hard to breathe. Do you know how many pictures I've seen of people who've drowned, nameless and uncared for, this year? How many stories my friends have shared of loved ones who didn't make it? Thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children have been gifted an unknown, watery grave this year alone! I focused on my breathing as an entire army of emotions threatened to overflow in a panic attack as I sat there.

I don't know much about PTSD, but I think I'm struggling with it to some extent. However, I am not worried about myself, I know I am about to go home where I am surrounded by family, friends who love me, a church that cares for me, warm beds to sleep in, and all that a person could ever need. But it shakes me to the core that what I am experiencing is but 1/1000 of what my friends have been through- mine is all second hand from their own lives. And the thing that makes me nauseous is that they are still living it! They are harassed inside and outside the camps, they are neglected and unwanted by countries, they are seen as evil while the evil done to them is 'okay-ed', and I could go on and on. I don't know what to do with my thoughts and feelings as I think about all these things. I feel powerless to help, and I know my words seem shallow as I respond back to their messages.

I don't know what this next season of life holds for me or for them. I hope our paths connect again soon! But in the meantime, I hope and pray God brings healing, wholeness, hope, restoration, life, joy, peace, and favor for these people in desperate need of such things!

(photos taken by one of my Syrian friends)

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