Perseverence + Resilience + Patience = Hope for Recovery

The PTSD symptoms I had were so overwhelming that at times I thought I was losing my mind. I’m not even kidding–and if you ever meet my husband, or my children, who were teens at the time, ask them what Mama was like back then. I’m sure some of their stories would blow your hair back. I’ll never forget when I was in a really bad way and actually got behind my clothes in my closet, like I used to do when I was a child, to hide from my stepfather. My husband, Daniel, stepped in, leaned down, and said softly, “I seeeee youuuuuu…” but didn’t judge me harshly or make fun of me. It’s one of the reasons I love him more than words could ever adequately describe.

Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt helps people like me –like I was at that time–understand what happens when someone experiences trauma, and I love its message that sufferers are NOT crazy or weak: they are incredibly strong for continuing to put one foot in front of the other, even while enduring some very scary shit inside their heads. It’s compassionate, speaks to readers where they are–like Daniel that evening when I was a hot mess, and we let readers know, again and again, that HOPE is possible, and RECOVERY is possible, and we shine that all-important light when it’s so easy for survivors to get lost in the nooks & crannies of their minds. We strongly suggest that readers work with a therapist as they process their trauma, because recovery from PTSD is scary.

Nearly a decade ago, Matt taught me HOW to be resilient and HOW to persevere through those undoubtedly dark days. I wrote poems and essays and short stories and shared them only with Matt: there was no one else I could trust with–saddle with, really– what was coming out of my mind and landing on my keyboard and screen. At his suggestion that I try writing a novel, I imagined the trauma I had endured as having happened to someone else, stepped outside of myself, and began to tell 15 year old Ashley Nicole Asher’s story. With her being “born,” so was my life as a professional writer, although I didn’t know it at the time. All I was doing was following the advice of the man I had learned I could trust with my darkness, and he would be by my side, holding the light.
Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt is a unique amalgam of teaching about PTSD and giving insight into the recovery process and the storylines of 7 members of the Thursday Night Therapy Group. Matt E. Jaremko is the inspiration for the Dr. Matt character in my Patience books, and I patterned the experiences of the main character, Ashley, after my own. All these years later, Matt and I teamed up and took those 2 characters, aged Ashley up to 19, and placed Dr. Matt and Ashley in a group therapy setting. Along with Ashley, group members include a survivor of a tornado destroying his mobile home and gravely injuring his toddler daughter; a woman who was behind the wheel, reached for her phone to check a text, and slammed into a semi, killing her husband on impact; a first responder to a mass shooting at a church (timely, sadly); a soldier who was injured when an IED exploded outside his barracks, killing his best friend; an ex-con who is determined to rebuild his life and make a difference; and a survivor of an attempted rape by her brother’s best friend when she was 14–as well as family secrets she has yet to allow herself to process. She attempts to cope with her anguish by numbing herself with food. And, of course, there’s Dr. Matt, an experienced therapist nearing the end of his career and contemplating what’s next.

Please check out the Facebook page Matt created for  our book, and take a look at our website, Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt too! We also have a blog, Hope for Post-traumatic Growth.
I hope you’ll subscribe to our sites & give our FB page a “Like” so that you get the latest news on our book, which is set to release around late Spring/early Summer, 2018.

And-I hope you’ll read the posts Matt has entered on our FB page so far. He has a lot to say, and he is one of the 2 smartest men I know–the other being my husband, Daniel. I owe my life today to Matt and Daniel’s unwavering support, presence, and holding me accountable to not give up.
Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt is one special book, and it holds a hallowed place in my , alongside The Patience Trilogy.

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Introduction to our book: Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt

For the past year, I have been collaborating with Beth Fehlbaum to write a book entitled: Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt. The first draft of this book is in the process of editorial submission and review but here we begin to discuss its purpose and anticipated impact.

An overview of the book is provided below as an introduction to what we think is a unique and entertaining fusion of non-fiction self-help writing with fictional storylines of true-to-life trauma survivors as they face the arduous process of rebuilding life after catastrophe. Coming entries to this blog will elucidate and augment both major and minor topics examined in Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt. We welcome you into the inside processes of creating and disseminating this important new book.

OVERVIEW

Exposure to traumatic events has become the “black plague” of the 21st century: it’s everywhere! It is generally believed 70% of all people will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime. 20% of those will go on to develop PTSD. Thus, recovery from trauma has become a major health and human services issues.

This book addresses recovery from trauma in a highly unique dual format.  First, the book is a non-fiction treatise of the current scientific and clinical understanding of the formation of PTSD and its treatment. At the same time, the book is a fictional depiction of seven individuals being treated by a professional psychologist for PTSD secondary to a variety of traumatic events. The fictional sections of the book are used to illustrate the scientific and clinical non-fictional material presented. The combination of the conceptual information with emotionally-charged human examples yields more complete understanding; one that leads the reader to take the action required to recover from traumatic experiences.

While exposure to trauma results in strong negative emotional and behavioral experiences, PTSD happens when the trauma victim gets stuck in a cycle of negative emotion and harmful avoidance behavior to the exclusion of pursuing and/or approaching meaningful and valued life activity.  In fact, over 40% of those exposed to trauma will eventually say they are stronger for having been through such a life-changing event. This leads to a vital question: what is missing in the 60% who don’t experience “post-traumatic growth”? This book carefully outlines why some trauma victims get better; even stronger, and some don’t.

In fact, it is because of the very nature of being stuck that trauma victims with PTSD find it very difficult to seek and complete treatment. Their lives remain in a suspended negative state of fear, shame, anger, isolation and hiding. These patients think no one can understand them and that nothing can be done to help them.

Fortunately, modern psychological treatments are highly effective, but victims first must be convinced to come out of hiding and seek the truth about how their lives have changed. Trauma Recovery: Sessions with Dr. Matt convinces those victims in a unique and effective manner.

This book will appeal to four groups:

  1. Reluctant patients who are stuck in the pain-avoidance cycle: they can find hope from the narratives of seven fictional patients brought to life in the book whose recovery process is described in an engaging format.
  2. Motivated patients: those ready and eager for treatment, can find help from the parts of the book which describe in clear terms the science behind their PTSD symptoms and the collaborative process of treatment for those symptoms.
  3. Therapists who treat patients with PTSD will find it useful to have the book on their shelves to share with either motivated or reluctant PTSD clients.
  4. General readers of fiction and non-fiction alike will find the characters and their recovery stories highly informative as well as entertaining. General readers will also find the scientific explanations of PTSD psychopathology and its effective treatment provided in the book to be enlightening and useful.
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