Healing Line

Healing Line

A Personal Look at Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

by Linda Strickland
Sep/Oct 2010

On February 8, 2010 I was in a near fatal car accident. As I was entering an intersection, a young man driving an SUV ran the red light and crashed full speed into the driver’s side door of my van. According to the police officers and fire and rescue, it is a miracle that I was not killed.

I was injured in several ways that day, not the least of which was a deep level of emotional and mental trauma. I suffered, and am still dealing with, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I cried for a solid week following the accident, to the point that my eyes were so swollen I could barely see. Completely out of my control, my mind kept replaying the accident over and over. I would try to stop it, but no matter what I did, I could not shut off the horror movie playing in my head.

In ministry I have talked with many people who were experiencing what I perceived to be irrational fear, and I always wondered why they could not get control of it. But what I have discovered through my own personal experience is that the fear that grips someone suffering with PTSD is very real.

I remember the first time I drove a car after the accident. I was driving home from work, and about half way home I became so overwhelmed with fear that I had to pull over into a parking lot. I just sat there, sobbing, for about five minutes. I thought I was going to have to call my husband to come and get me, but I finally got some courage, pulled back onto the road, and inched my way home. I felt ridiculous!

Unhealed trauma is the root cause of so much of the pain and suffering we see every day here at Christian Healing Ministries. And the unexpressed emotions that sometimes get buried with the memories can keep people in bondage for years, and in some cases, a lifetime.

In addition to untimely accidents, there are many other circumstances people are forced to endure in their lives that can cause PTSD.

For example, last year Judith and I went to Alaska for a healing conference, and we had the opportunity to minister to a beautiful native Alaskan woman who had lived in the bush area of Alaska her whole life. (This is the area that is only reachable by air). As we began ministering to her, she quietly whispered, “Incest.” Although it was a heartbreaking confession we were not surprised, as the conference leadership team had told us that 95% of women living in the bush areas are sexually abused.

As we began praying, this dear woman bent over and began sobbing. And then without warning she suddenly rose up and screamed at the top of her lungs. I have heard Judith say that buried emotions will often come out screaming, but to witness it firsthand was chilling. It was as though all of the pain she had carried her whole life was released through that one single scream.

Another example of PTSD is what our military men and women go through after returning home from serving active duty in places where they have witnessed violence and death. The experience can be so traumatizing that they don’t even realize just how affected they are until something stirs it up.

Our friend, and National Advisory Board member, Fr. Nigel Mumford, of Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich, NY, has a powerful ministry that ministers to these courageous soldiers. (According to statistics, one out of seven soldiers returning from battle is struggling with some form of PTSD). Fr. Nigel’s ministry, The Welcome Home Initiative, is serving our returning men and women in ways that our government has yet to figure out.

Here at CHM we also realize how essential it is that we know how to minister to those suffering from PTSD. So to meet this need we are now training prayer ministers through our School of Healing Prayer (Level IV) with two in–depth teachings on this topic, presented by professional experts in the field.

During my own journey to healing, my favorite way to receive ministry for PTSD has been through soaking prayer, mainly because of its gentleness. Soaking prayer is an intentional time set apart to simply rest in God’s presence. It involves either sitting or lying in stillness, relaxed and inwardly turning toward Jesus. Initially it may take time for your mind and spirit to clear of responsibilities and concerns, and to let go of the habit of coming before God in petition for others. But truly resting in His presence fulfills the purpose of soaking prayer, which is to give God an opportunity to minister to you directly.

I have also received healing through medical professionals. Although the healing prayer has been very beneficial, I believe that the combination of prayer and medical attention has been the reason my healing process is going so well. I thank God for the highly skilled doctors who have been taking such wonderful care of me.

Although I had previously ministered to people with PTSD, I must admit that I never fully understood it before now. The Lord always gives me great compassion for people I am praying with, but this new personal experience has taken my understanding and compassion to a whole new level.

I have a friend who likened PTSD to a bell being rung. At first the vibrations are strong, but over time the vibrations weaken and will eventually stop. Based on my personal experience I can say that this is a very accurate description, though for some people this process can take a long time.

I am so thankful that we have a God who is always concerned about us, so much so that He reminds us over and over just how much He cares.

“I am the Lord your God. I am holding your hand, so don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.” Isaiah 41:13

* For more information about The Welcome Home Initiative you can contact Sandra at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center, Greenwich, NY at 518–692–9550 ext. 202

Also, Fr. Nigel Mumford’s book Post Trauma Healing will be released in April 2011.

Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is CHM's Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Sep/Oct 2010