We are a resilient people! But if you “read the popular press–or even psychology journals–you might conclude that PTSD and other mental . . . problems are the standard responses to all large traumas Surprisingly, the opposite is true” (Pennebaker and Smyth, Opening Up by Writing it Down).
In Silver and Wortman’s research, they show that the majority of people who faced the death of a spouse or spouse, did not experience intense anxiety or depression or grief that lasted a long time. They write that about 2/3 of soliders who have seen combat do not show evidence of PTSD. People in a major auto accident did not experience depression or PTSD.
Of course, this by no means undermines those of us who have experienced PTSD and the devastating effects of hyperattentiveness and not feeling safe in our skin. It also does not mean that we don’t have a responsibility to be trauma-informed and trauma-responsive in our homes, communities, and workplaces.
But, by and large, we are a resilient people, who when we need to recover, we can. We talk it out with friends. We come together with our neighbors or community. We can process and communicate the emotions with others and by ourselves.
This is encouraging research to me and something I talk a little more about with Dr Belinda Elek above. While journal writing may trigger past trauma or anxiety for some, it is also giving us the tools to cope and heal with the help of a supportive circle. It is that circle that bears witness to when we need to show gentleness and compassion to our past wounds rather than just forging ahead.
When was the last time you felt resilient?