It’s the middle of the night. The phone startles you from a deep sleep. It’s your old army buddy and he’s whining about how his life sucks. He's drunk and his wife kicked him out again and he can't seem to keep a job and it's always someone else's fault. His doctor says he's got post traumatic stress disorder but the medications make him feel like a zombie. He feels hopeless and friendless and no one will ever love him again because of what he did and what he went through.
It's about the twelfth time he's called you this month.
You want to scream into the phone, “Get over it!”
But you don’t. Because you know what he’s going through. You’ve been there. Your friend is wallowing in the middle of the Valley of the Shadow of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He needs your help.
He can’t “get over it” -- he has to walk through the valley.
He can’t “shake it off” -- he has to walk through it.
So you take a deep breath and become his Drill Sarg.
“Don’t think about it. It’s in the past. It can’t happen now. You’re not there. You are here. See it for what it is – a memory of a horrible event. Now take a step forward. ”
“Don’t whine. This is just a valley filled with shadows. Take another step. Walk on through.”
“Don’t ask why. Knowing the reasons will not change the past. Knowing why won’t instantly transport you from the valley to the mountain top. Take a step. The only way out of this valley is by putting one foot in front of the other. ”
Ask him questions to help him stay focused on the road ahead.
When he stumbles, point out the safer places to put his feet.
When he wallows, point to a patch of sunshine just ahead.
When he pauses to enjoy the light, share the joy with him.
If he falls, don’t let him drag you back with him.
Eventually, someone is going to desperately need your old buddy’s help to walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of PTSD. And he can’t help until he is where you are now.
I know you can help him.