Riverbend Awareness Project

Christine Winters, the director of therapy at Answers LLC and a professional counselor, explains the more technical side of PTSD and the importance of being informed about PTSD and other mental health topics to give and receive support. 

National Center for PTSD
NIH Information page on PTSD 

What is Riverbend Awareness Project?

The Riverbend Awareness Project brings you a new conversation each month about important causes and issues in our community. Every month of 2024 we will sit down and have a conversation with a professional from our community about significant issues like heart health, Alzheimer’s, literacy, and more. We’ll then share that conversation with you on the Riverbend Awareness Project Podcast, with the goal of sharing resources, and information that will help you have a better understanding of the particular problems, and solutions, associated with each topic.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this podcast episode are solely those of the individuals participating, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Riverbend Media Group or the Riverbend Awareness Project, its affiliates, or its employees. It is important to note that the discussion presented is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Listeners are encouraged to consult with qualified health care professionals for any medical concerns or decisions. The Riverbend Awareness Project is a product of Riverbend Media Group.

Emma: Hey, this is Emma.

Melissa: And this is Melissa.

Emma: Welcome to the Riverbend Awareness Project. Each month, we learn about important nationwide topics that also affect our community.

Melissa: We are continuing our conversation about PTSD. And today, we have Christine Winters, therapy director at Answers LLC. with us.

Emma: Christine, could you give us a brief introduction of yourself? Maybe talk about what you do at Answers LLC. and how it relates to PTSD.

Christine: Yeah. So I am Christine Winters. I am the therapy director, and LPC is my official title. So, licensed professional counselor. So I do see clients, and then I also run the therapy department and oversee the therapists at Answers.

Melissa: Sounds like you're busy.

Christine: Little bit.

Melissa: Well, thank you.

We really appreciate that you came in today and took the time out of your busy schedule to come and talk to us about this...

Christine: Yeah. No problem.

Melissa: ...this important topic. So, what is the clinical definition of PTSD?

Christinte: So, the clinical definition of PTSD is that it is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist act, war or combat, rape, or other violent personal assaults.

It is characterized by symptoms that persist for more than a month and cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning in an individual's life.

Melissa: That's a pretty heavy definition.

Christine: It is.

Emma: How is PTSD diagnosed? Like, what are some of the most common symptoms of PTSD?

Christine: Yeah. So some of the most common are, like, exposure to trauma. And so with trauma, though, the stuff that I listed above, yes, are some of them, but trauma can be different to anybody. So anything that is traumatic to somebody may vary from person to person. So identifying that they've had exposure to trauma, whether that's them themselves or they've witnessed it; intrusive symptoms, like distressing memories of the traumatic event, flashbacks, nightmares, or any other intense distress; efforts to avoid things, like people, places, sounds, smells; also, like, negative alterations in their mood or their cognition.

So, like, guilt, shame, anger, horror, fear, those are all also common symptoms. And then arousal and reactivity, so irritable behaviors, outbursts, reckless or destructive behaviors, being hypervigilant. Sometimes they're, like, really jumpy, like, at small sounds or, like, if somebody walks up behind them and touches their shoulder, like, it can cause a lot of startled responses.

Melissa: With those symptoms—sorry, follow-up question. Would they have them consistently, or do they come and go? Or does it depend on the person and the kind of trauma that they've been through?

Christine: Yeah. It definitely depends on the trauma and the severity of the trauma. And so, they may come and go. They may be a consistent thing.

Emma: Kind of along those same lines, we were wondering how long after a traumatic event can PTSD occur? Is it always something that kind of... You know, something traumatic happens, and it's something that starts to manifest directly after, or can sometimes... I— I don't know. We don't know a lot about this topic.

Christine: The symptoms, like, when you're talking about, like, how they're diagnosed or when the onset can be, the most persistent ones are within the first month after a traumatic event has occurred. And if they have more than one traumatic event, like, obviously, symptoms are gonna increase, right? Symptoms are gonna be more pronounced than if they were one single event.

Melissa: Thank you.

Christine: You're welcome.

Melissa: So you mentioned that there are different levels of severity. Could you talk a little bit more about that and what those different levels of severity are?

Christine: So there's mild, moderate, and severe. The nature of the trauma definitely is a factor of where their severity level is at as far as, like, how intense it was.

We have mild PTSD, which is where an individual may experience some symptoms related to a traumatic event, but the symptoms typically don't significantly impair their ability to function in their day-to-day lives. Symptoms may be distressing but manageable, and individuals may still engage in work, school activities, and relationships, maybe characterized by occasional intrusive thoughts, mild avoidance behavior, and mild changes in mood or arousal.

Then we have the moderate, which involves a more pronounced set of symptoms that impact daily functions to a greater extent than mild. May have more frequent and distressing intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks related to the traumatic event. Avoidance behavior may be more prevalent, and mood changes may be more persistent and interfere with interpersonal relationships in work and school.

Then we have the severe, which involves intense and pervasive symptoms, like, so ongoing more there, that impair the ability to function in various areas of their life. So these symptoms are most likely going to cause more distress. They're gonna be more prevalent. They're gonna be an ongoing thing versus a not ongoing thing.

Emma: So kind of a question about the terminology. When you're talking about arousal, that's kind of when... Earlier you mentioned that it's kind of like a kind of a trigger for a strong emotion.

Christine: Yeah. It is a trigger. The individual may be, like, jumpy or they might start shaking or they might, like, cower down depending on the situation. So it's like their reaction is pretty intense and pretty fast.

Does that make sense? Like, almost like it's a... It's a habit versus an actual doing something that you wanna do.

Melissa: Like, they almost do it without thinking.

Christine: Yeah. They do do it without thinking. Thanks for those words.

Melisa: Yeah.

Christine: I had to think about how to do it. So, like, for instance, some people will use, like, war vets. Right? Any loud sounds, like gunshots or even fireworks, may cause them to— or will cause them, like, to jump or to drop to the floor. Right? Because those are the things that they were taught in that moment to protect themselves.

Emma: When you're describing the symptoms, it sounds kinda similar to some of the symptoms I've heard described for anxiety and depression. How does PTSD differ from other...

Christine: Yeah, so PTSD, like, it does have a lot of similar symptoms of anxiety and depression. So it really comes down to those areas where I stated the arousalness, the jumpiness, but also, like, the intrusive thoughts, the flashbacks, the nightmares. Those types of things are what kinda sets it apart from depression and anxiety. And the hard thing is, like with any trauma, you're gonna have depression. You're gonna have anxiety.

You're gonna be on edge. So most of the time, they go hand in hand with each other. So, yes, you can be diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety and depression. So you can have three in one, which makes it more complex, right?

Like, trauma's already complex enough, but the higher severity, the levels and stuff like that, and the co-occurring diagnoses can also make the severity even more.

Melissa: That sounds really difficult. So thinking about that and the possible symptoms and co-occurring mental health struggles, how can PTSD affect people in their daily lives, like, in their relationships? Or we've kinda talked a little bit about their health or, like, career, just life in general.

What are some of, like, the things that someone facing PTSD will be different about their day versus someone who's not facing PTSD?

Christine: Yeah. So with individuals with PTSD, they're more likely to isolate and avoid people, avoid places. They're more likely... When it comes to relationships, they may have hard times, like, expressing themselves or communicating because they don't necessarily feel like the other person's gonna understand. A lot of the time, people keep trauma to themselves because they're embarrassed, first and foremost.

Right? Whether it was in their control or out of their control, it's scary. It's embarrassing. So people are like, well, if I don't talk about it, it'll be just fine. But it then in turn causes issues in relationships because of their actions, their behavior.

So if they're really struggling and they're having symptoms, they're most likely... They could, I mean, have anger outbursts, or they can isolate and just completely shut down and not wanna talk to anybody. They can... Some of the same things like the slamming the doors or like, it all depends on the person, depends on how it's gonna affect them in their daily life. So communication is a big one that's affected, healthy relationship skills because they kind of lose a sense of control, being able to function and do things on their own because of the overwhelmingness.

Like, going into a store could be a huge struggle for them. Going to a doctor's office. Right? So there's almost, like, lack of trust. And so it's really hard for them just to be able to do day-to-day things.

Sometimes, it's the depression aspect of it. They're not motivated. They don't wanna get out of bed. They're not interested in things that they used to be. They're just down and out, not taking care of themselves, their personal hygiene, stuff like that, not cleaning up after themselves. So it really depends on the person.

Emma: Thank you. Something that we talked about was just how difficult it can be to talk about past trauma. Kind of a follow-up question to that is, is it possible that someone might not recognize that they even have PTSD?

Christine: So when it comes to, like, individuals not recognizing it... Like, it could be, right?

Like, absolutely could be that they're not recognizing it for the fact that they don't want to be labeled. They don't want to be part of that stigma of mental health, or their symptoms may not be super intrusive either. So they may just think it's depression or anxiety or they may think it's them just being like, just thinking that, "oh, it's just— it is what it is." Right? Like, not even... It really comes back to recognizing.

Right? Like, some people don't wanna recognize things that may make them different than somebody else. Right? They hinder it. They hide it.

Or they they find excuses for it to be caused by something else.

Melissa: If you... I guess, if you have a friend or a loved one that you see struggling with some of these issues... And maybe not for sure if they have PTSD or just something— maybe depression or anxiety or some of these symptoms that could be PTSD. What could you do to help them?

Christine: Like, get through it? Or, like, encourage them to look into it?

Melissa: Maybe both? I don't know. What would be most helpful? Because... I don't know. You just want— you want them to still trust you.

Chrsitine: Mhmm.

Melissa: And you don't wanna overwhelm them or make them, like you said, feel labeled in any way, but you still want them to get help or to feel like they can talk to you about...

Christine: their struggles.

Melissa: Yeah. So how— what's the best way to approach that?

Christine: Yeah. So I definitely think, like, self awareness, educating ourselves and educating them.

Like, "hey. Have we thought about this? This is what this kinda looks like, and it sounds like maybe you're experiencing those same things." Right? Actively listening to them.

Like, just letting them open up, building that trust with them, and encouraging treatment if treatment is needed. So just being able to validate that their feelings are real is important. Being nonjudgmental. Because the minute that you place judgment in it, somebody's gonna shut down. They're not gonna wanna talk.

And you have to have trust and have a rapport with somebody. So if it is a loved one, like, just being open but gentle with them. Like, "hey. I'm really worried about you," but not being forceful either. Because if you try to force somebody to get help, they're gonna just push away.

So we gotta be gentle, but be open-minded and educate ourselves. Like, what does this really look like? Because a lot of people don't realize the things that they're struggling with because of the lack of awareness or avoidance or denial, and letting them know it's okay to not be okay. Like, that is one of my favorite sayings. It's okay to not be okay.

We all have our demons. We all have our stories. It's just how we go about coping and getting through life with it, and letting them know they're not alone. That's another big thing. They feel alone. They feel like they're the only one going through it, and they're not.

They're not alone.

Emma: Thank you. That is really helpful. What treatments are available for people who are suffering from past trauma?

Christine: Yeah, so there's multiple different therapy methods to go through to treat trauma and to process through trauma. Statistically, it's proven the best treatment is medication with therapy. So there's multiple types of therapy like CBT, which is cognitive behavioral therapy, which is changing and challenging the negative thought processes and just retraining our brains to think of things in a more positive manner than a negative manner.

Another one of my favorite quotes is, "there is light in every darkness." Right? So if we look out in the sky at night, it's dark, but we have the stars and we have the moon. So there's always a lightness or a positive aspect of it, but it's so hard to see it sometimes.

Then there's, like, eye movement. EMDR was formed to treat combat vets. And so what it does is it uses bilateral stimulation to get the left and the right hand side of your brain working together to process through things, which has been super, super helpful for both reframing traumatic memories and reducing the emotional impact that it has on somebody.

Melissa: May I ask what's bilateral stimulation? Is that what you said?

Christine: Yeah.

Melissa: So, what is that?

Christine: It can be tapping. So you're tapping with 2 hands or 2 fingers or whatever. It can be sound bouncing back and forth to different wave frequencies. It can be you following a ball bouncing across a string or a light bar or somebody's fingers. So, it's engaging some type of stimulation that is engaging both—

Melissa: parts of your brain.

Christine: Mhmm.

Melissa: Okay. Thank you.

Christine: So whether that's sound, whether that's visual, or whether that's, like, physical touch.

Melissa: Thank you. Sorry to interrupt.

Christine: No. You're good.

Melissa: I was just like, "I think I could probably figure it out, but I'm gonna have her explain what it is so that we all learn."

Chrisitne: Yeah. No. Totally fine. And then there's prolonged exposure therapy, which involves gradually exposing the individual to the trauma-related memories that they have, the thoughts, the situations that they have been avoiding, and repeated exposure over and over and over again.

And then there's trauma-focused cognitive therapy, which is CBT, like, the stuff that I talked about at first, where it combines cognitive behavior techniques with trauma forced interventions.

There's also IFS, Internal Family Systems, and what that is is you refer to the movie Inside Out. Riley has anger, joy, sadness, disgust, fear. Those are parts. Everybody has multiplicities within them. And so, if they're getting stuck in one of these other forms of therapy, IFS can help identify that part and work through that part because our parts are trying to protect us, but they're causing more harm than they are good.

So, that's been really helpful. I've actually done EMDR and IFS with a vet, and it was very, very successful. It was great. And then, of course, the medication. Medication is another form of treatment that they can do.

Melissa: Thank you for sharing that.

Christine: You're welcome.

Melissa: It's really interesting just to seemthe many different approaches. How does someone decide, or I guess how does, like, a counselor or therapist decide what's the best method of treatment for someone?

Christine: I think it really depends on the individual and the therapist, right? So for myself, I probably would start off with EMDR because it was treated for trauma, but it may not be what that person needs. And so I would switch to something different until we figured out what is the best route for that person, and educating them on the different processes and seeing where they wanna start, right?

So if they wanna start with EMDR, if they wanna start with IFS or CBT. So it really is kinda like medication. You are given a medication, and sometimes you have to try different things until you find out what works. And so really listening, building that rapport with your clients, or the people that are coming to see you and really understanding them as a person kinda helps guide where you think what process or what form of therapy would be best for them.

Emma: What outcomes of recovery are there and what factors can affect recovery?

Christine: The different outcomes for recovery are remission, which, with appropriate treatment and support, an individual with PTSD or any other mental health diagnosis can experience a significant reduction in their symptoms and achieve remission, meaning that they no longer meet the criteria for PTSD. Remission may involve, like, the resolution of intrusive memories, nightmares, their avoidance behavior, that hyperarousal or hypersensitivity, and leading to improved overall functioning and quality of their life.

And then they have symptom management. So this is when an individual has learned skills and gone through the process of healing from trauma that they're able to manage their symptoms with something like just talk therapy or continuing on medication, but they're able to manage those symptoms. There are functional improvements throughout the areas of their life. They're able to function in different areas that they once were not able to do.

Enhanced resilience, which means, like, they're able like, if they get upset or triggered, they can bounce back and get back to that sense of calm pretty easily.

Prevention relapse. So them recognizing that relapses in their symptoms can recur because of other factors in life that are going on or situations. So just being aware of that and being aware of their triggers and when facing them, what skills to utilizing, really utilizing those skills, and it can overall improve their quality of life.

Factors that can affect recovery are the severity and duration of their symptoms. Symptoms can impact the likelihood and speed of recovery. Individuals with more symptoms or comorbid conditions may require more intense and prolonged treatment to achieve remission. The nature of the trauma, the intensity duration, the type, that can also affect recovery.

Early interventions, if somebody was to get treatment early on after a traumatic event, it could cause that remission to happen quicker.

Treatment engagement and adherence, so, like, falling through with recommendations, utilizing skills, things like that. Also, the quality of treatment. Like, what kind of treatment do they receive, and was it a quality in which was productive or helpful for them?

Having social supports. Going through anything in life, you need a healthy support system.

Co-occurring conditions, kinda back to that depression, anxiety, or even medical conditions, especially for vets or individuals who were diagnosed with cancer or a very chronic illness, like, that could definitely affect it. Because as we're going through treatments for stuff like that, our mental health affects our physical health, and our physical health affects our mental health, and it's all linked into one.

Coping skills and resilience, so making sure that they have the tools that they need to be able to manage symptoms on their own.

Environmental factors, what's going on at home? What's going on at work? What's going on in my support circle?

Is there stressors that are gonna— that could impose on me and I can take in and, I don't know, feel that from somebody else? Because we do that as humans. We're around a bunch of negative people. We're probably gonna be negative, right? If we're around a bunch around a bunch of happy people, we're gonna be happy.

And then trauma history, how many exposures to trauma? How many different traumatic situations or events have they been exposed to or been with?

Melissa: So, There's a lot that can...

Christine: yeah.

Melissa: affect that. Wow. That's a lot of information to think about. Thinking of all those different factors that can impact recovery and treatment, what makes that so intimidating? But also how can how can someone find hope and overcome that intimidation to get help?

Christine: One of the biggest ones is educating ourselves.

Like, that is the biggest thing that everybody can do, not just somebody struggling, but everybody. If people were more aware of what different mental illnesses look like, it wouldn't be so stigmatized. It wouldn't be made out to be this huge scary monster that's gonna attack you or... you know what I mean? Like, people make mental health out to be something that is gonna hurt somebody, and that's not always the case. Like, it's really not. Right?

Emma: It's like you said earlier. Like, everybody has their their struggles and their demons and their challenges.

Christine: So, honestly, everybody lives with mental health. Everybody.

Whether they wanna admit it or not. Like, everybody struggles at some point in their life with a mental illness, and it's just our society has focused on nothing but the negative. Really educating themselves to see what different diagnosis look like: depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia. Like, the list goes on and on, but really educating themselves and people speaking up, right?

Because I'm not gonna lie. I live with PTSD. I live with anxiety. I live with depression. And I can cope, and I can be functional, and I'm not a monster. I'm not out to hurt anybody. And that is the biggest, I think, stigma that's out there is somebody with mental illness is harmful, and that's not true. It's absolutely not true.

Fear of reliving trauma. Like, trauma is not easy. We don't want to relive it because it's very, very hurtful and painful.

Loss of control. Right now, they have that control. They have that control of talking about it or not talking about it. If they lose that control, they feel like they're losing a sense of their selves.

Mistrust of providers. I will be the first to admit; I seeked help when I was 17. The provider that I went to told me that she had never been through what I had been through, and I was 17, and I just need to get over it. So not having providers that are active listeners and supporters can be crucially affecting somebody's wants to seek therapy. So having bad experiences with therapists in the past can be can be something that keeps them from doing it.

Cultural and society barriers. So some cultures really don't wanna talk about mental illness, and they don't, or certain people are the only people allowed to talk for the family. And so really understanding somebody's culture and, like, societal stance can be really important.

Practical barriers, such as lack of insurance coverage, lack of access to mental health services, transportation, scheduling. I just want everybody to know that even if you don't have insurance, most agencies have interns that do pro bono work so they can see a therapist still without insurance coverage. So a lot of people are like, "well, I can't afford it." There is help. There is help out there. You just have to reach out.

Self blame and shame. They may feel guilty or embarrassed, like I said before. The quality of treatment that's provided, social supports, things like that.

Also, fear of change. Change is scary. And to go from living in a life of survival mode, that's exactly what trauma is. We're in survival mode, so we're gonna do whatever it takes to keep ourselves safe. So fight, fight, freeze. Those are huge things that our brains automatically have for us. So it comes back to those arousal triggers, like, that jumpiness, those jolting actions. So fear of change, thinking that there's a way to actually live instead of just survive is scary. Absolutely scary.

And then minimization of symptoms. They may minimize their symptoms to make them not to be such a big deal when they really are.

Melissa: There's a lot of reasons there that...

Christine: Yeah.

Melissa: that can stop someone, And there's no way we can address all those things, but what are some some ways maybe you've seen or some things that give you hope for people who are facing those difficulties to get the help that they need or want?

Christine: One big encouragement I would say is try. Reach out and try. If— especially, like, I know in our agency, if... Not all the time are you gonna click with the first therapist that you see, right? You have to find the best fit for you.

And that could be another potential barrier— I don't want to have to retell my story over and over and over and over again. So in almost every agency around here, there's more than one therapist, right? And so, usually, they can transfer to another therapist in the same agency that could be a better fit for them.

Doing some research. Who provides trauma therapy? Most agencies have a website. I know ours gives a background on the clinician and kinda what they work with. Or just calling and asking every agency like, "hey, do you have anybody that works with trauma? Do you have anybody that deals with depression?" Stuff like that.

And then also our loved ones being able to encourage and being supportive, right? That we're not gonna give up on them. And definitely that they're not alone.

A lot of people in their lives have trauma, and so just reminding themselves that they're not alone and it's okay to not be okay, and they don't need to be scared. It is scary, but what's scarier for them is to live the life that they're living right now and not getting the help. And so just kinda putting themselves out there and being able to give it a shot to really allow themselves to heal so they can be more productive and do more things in their life.

Emma: Earlier, you talked about some of the common misconceptions of mental health. Are there any misconceptions that apply specifically to PTSD?

Christine: Absolutely. So one of the biggest ones is PTSD only affects veterans. That is absolutely not true.

All trauma leads to PTSD. That is also not true.

PTSD is a sign of weakness. I'm gonna say also that is not true. PTSD is a sign of strength, and we're still here and we're still living and thriving. Maybe struggled here and there with things or maybe harder for us, but we're still here.

PTSD is untreatable, also not true.

Only combat veterans have PTSD symptoms.

PTSD is always immediately evident.

PTSD is just a normal reaction to trauma.

PTSD is rare, and PTSD will naturally fade over time.

Those are some of the major misconceptions about PTSD.

Emma: I was thinking about the misconception that symptoms will naturally fade over time. So is that something... I don't know. Do symptoms usually grow? Do they stay about the same? Does it... I guess it probably depends on the person and their trauma, but...

Christine: Yeah. It depends on the person or trauma and if they have current trauma going on. So once again, trauma is different for everybody, right?

So when it comes to, like, the symptoms stuff, it may not be evident right away. It may slowly creep up depending on the environment that they're in, their situations that they're in. Like, there's a lot of factors there, but there's gonna be some pretty clear ones within the first little bit right after a trauma. But our brains also try to block out certain things and don't want to access certain parts of our traumas, and so that could be another reason why they may not know or recognize if they are struggling with PTSD. Especially with childhood trauma, our brains do try to block out for a protective instinct certain aspects of trauma.

Melissa: We kinda talked about this, but not completely. We can always dig deeper. What resources are there for individuals with PTSD, or maybe someone who has a loved one that has PTSD?

Christine: Yeah, so definitely the therapist, right? Like, your local agencies have support.

There are different support groups that they can go to, whether it's online, whether it's locally... I know that we have a chapter here of a bunch of vets that get together and, like, for veterans, get together and do activities and stuff together.

Melissa: Is it Phoenix QRF?

Christine: Yeah.

Melissa: Okay.

Christine: Yeah.

Melissa: I feel like I've heard of them.

Christine: So they do a bunch of stuff together.

Melissa: Mhmm.

Christine: Also, you have, like, the National Institute of Mental Health that provides information about PTSD, including symptoms, risk factors, treatment options; the National Center For PTSD, it's operated by the US Department of Veteran Affairs, that people can call; the Sidran Institute, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information and resources and supports for trauma survivors; PTSD Reliance.

There's a veteran's crisis line. There's also the national and local suicide hotlines. 988 is the text line for Idaho. Local mental health resources, online support communities, books and self-help materials, and professional treatment providers.

Melissa: There's a lot of resources.

Christine: There is. Whether you're the person struggling with PTSD or you're an individual with a loved one with PTSD, because there's also the National Alliance on Mental Health, NAMI, family support programs, PTS family support groups, self-care and self-management groups. There are a lot of resources— a lot— that are out there.

Melissa: And I feel like, too, the follow-up question that we were planning on asking, sorry, is the... Like, what resources are there for people to be educated? I feel like a lot of those...

Christine: Yeah.

Melissa: same resources, like the National Institute For Mental Health, that could probably be a good resource if you wanna learn more about PTSD and...

Christine: Yeah, absolutely.

Melissa: be educated about it and mental health.

Christine: So you could literally just Google "what is PTSD," and it's gonna pop up a ton of information. Same with resources for PTSD, it'll pop up a ton of information.

Melissa: Thank you for sharing those.

Christine: You're welcome.

Emma: Is there anything else you feel we missed in our conversation and would like to talk about?

Christine: No. I think we covered a lot of it.

I would definitely say, though, educate yourself, be an advocate for yourself and for other people, and really avoid thinking about the stigmas and the assumptions of living with a mental illness. And respecting other people's boundaries or triggers and just really listening to somebody who's struggling and really just be there and be patient and be understanding. PTSD is not something that goes away overnight. So if you have a loved one or yourself that is struggling with it, be patient and understand that there is light at the end of the tunnel. There really is. And that you could get through it and you can live your life to the complete fullest where you've been limiting your life before.

Emma: Thank you so much. I like what you said about it being a process. Even if you recognize that you have PTSD, it's not something that's just gonna go away. You have to you have to trust that eventually, things will be okay.

Christine: Yeah. And you you definitely have to heal. Trauma's not something that's caused by good. It's caused by negative, right? And so—

Emma: Yeah, and I think recognizing that can really help.

Christine: Yeah. And just recognizing you're not alone. You're really not.

And there's so many different people that have lived some very, very traumatic experiences in life that do amazing motivational speaking events and stuff like that. Like, it just goes to show that treatment is very helpful, and it is very relieving to let some of that stuff— those burdens— off of your chest.

Okay, so one last thing that I'd like to add is somebody who has a loved one with PTSD or any other trauma-related disorders can actually get secondary trauma because they're witnessing that other person struggling or hearing what they've been through. And so just being aware of yourself and how you're being affected by your loved one or those around you that are struggling and getting yourself help if you need to to be able to provide support for them in the way that you want to.

Emma: It's true. The mind is pretty amazing, but it's kind of... I don't know. It's interesting. Something you said earlier kinda stood out to me about how it can be, like, helpful and harmful sometimes. Like, your brain tries to do all these things to help you, and sometimes it ends up kinda not.

Christine: Right.

Emma: That's fascinating. You know, the brain is very complex and...

Christine: Absolutely. Absolutely complex. But it could do amazing things too. So it's it's like finding that happy medium. Right? Riding that happy medium and being in the moment instead of being elsewhere.

Emma: It's about reworking your thoughts.

Christine: Yeah. Yeah. And it is. They're just about retraining your brain, you know, to look at the stuff in the moment or the positive stuff versus the negative even though we are faced on the news and other social media and stuff of focusing on all the negative.

Melissa: Gotta retrain ourselves to look at the positive.

Christine: Yep. Look for the beauty in everything.

Emma: Thank you for coming in today and teaching us more about PTSD. We appreciate you and for coming in and sharing your time with us and your knowledge.

Melissa: We really do. And for sharing your witness of healing and hope.

Christine: Yeah. Absolutely. And I thank you guys for letting me come and be a part of this.

Melissa: If you enjoyed today's episode, please remember to share, subscribe, and rate the Riverbend Awareness Project.

Emma: If you'd like to send us an email, you can reach us via podcast@eiradio.com. Thanks for listening, and join us next time on the Riverbend Awareness Project.