Tag Archives: Post-Traumatic Growth

Time Heals All Wounds?

“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.

God, Suffering, and Post-Traumatic Growth

Some people believe that God grants Christians a carefree life, and that if God doesn’t grant us this, we must be weak of faith and/or God must be angry. We hold God responsible for all our suffering. This is kind of weird, since we do not do so for our happiness – we may thank God, but we still reecognize the part we ourselves and other people have had in it.

Also, it is common for some Christians to assume that God only allows suffering for the weak of faith. In other words, it must be our own fault of we suffer. This again is discounting the role humanity and circumstances have in people’s suffering. Then, of course, we may be angry with God and lose our faith. After all, if He eexists, why does He allow humans and nature to cause people suffeirng?

I want to talk here about growing from suffering. There is such a thing in psychology as post-traumatic growth, and I believe it is important that we recognize this in order to accept our suffering. Beyond being angry because we suffer – which of course is a stage of grief too -, can we try to use our tribulations as an opportunity to learn? For example, many people who have suffered a lot, learn to appreciate the little things in life. I am not saying that we need to be thankful that we endured whatever we endured, but we can use it as a springboard to growth. Let’s move beyond blaming ourselves or God and onto accepting whatever life throws at us and appreciating it as much as possible. Non-Christians can perhaps more easily acknowledge that God is not to blame for our suffering – simply because they may not believe in God -, but then again believers may find themselves spiritually growing from our experiences. I became a believer when I was in pretty dire circumstances, and I am not the only one.