“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” – Rose Kennedy
As people who have gone throgh something traumatic, we often wonder when the pain will be gone. We wonder how long the grieving process takes. I wondered this when being confronted with the reality of my total blindness last year. When will I finally accept that there is no way, save for technological advancements that might come in the future, that I will be able to see again?
Looking at this quote, I realize that the trauma of my having gone blind,a nd all the other traums I survived, will never not have happened, and the wounds they caused in my mind and soul will remain. The mind will create scar tissue that protects the wounds from being torn open over and over again, but the wounds are still there. Treatment for PTSD is not aimed at making the traumatic memories go away – well, I’ve heard of some medications that could in the future do this, but whether that’s ethical , is another topic entirely. PTSD treatment is focused on restructuring the person’s memory so that the emotional burden is lessened. This is comparable to creating mental scar tissue. And the thing with scars is, they itch sometimes, reminding us of the wounds that are underneath them.
A person may have seemingly fully processed their trauma. I thought I had processed the feelings surrounding my blindness in 1999, when I moved to a mainstream school and my tiny bit of vision was insignificant. Then, in 2004, I lost that tiny bit of vision and was confronted with the reality tht the scars from the original trauma of blindness were still there. I learned to ignore my feelings with the help of a rather pragmatic psychologist, herself blind from birth. I thought I had created mental scar tissue, but I hadn’t or it was too thin. The wound kept being torn open, and at last I took a different road by asking to be referred to al ophthalmologist to find out if any sight-restoring treatment was still possible. I had surgery in September, but it was unsuccessful. Now, I’m trying to build another layer of scar tissue, but I realize now, the wound will remain.
This does not mean recovering from PTSD or other post-traumatic symptoms is not worth it. It is rather useful to be able to function well in spite of trauma. I also know that scars can make you stronger, ie. post-traumatic growth. This, however, does not mean the trauma is gone. It means we’ve moved on with our lives in spite of it.