Compassion makes someone’s tomorrow a better day

Compassion is a beautiful and powerful emotion that connects us to others in times of need. It is the hand that reaches out with the message that says, ‘You’re not alone’ - the quiet force that heals wounds, lifts spirits and reminds us of our shared humanity.

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Compassion makes someone’s tomorrow a better day

Compassion is a beautiful and powerful emotion that connects us to others in times of need.  It is the hand that reaches out with the message that says, ‘You’re not alone’ – the quiet force that heals wounds, lifts spirits and reminds us of our shared humanity.  Today we explore PTSD and how profoundly this impacts lives.  The good news is that with compassion for ourselves and others with PTSD, coupled with effective treatment, we can make a difference.

Figures this month put the male prisoner population in the UK at 83,648 (GOV.UK 07/06/24) out of the total figure of 87,284 and that number is rising.  Some believe that prisons should treat their inmates harshly, punishing them for what took them to be incarcerated in the first place and that, in more modern times, the criminal justice system is becoming soft.  Psychology has proven differently.  Effective treatment and compassion packs much more of a punch.

This week I had the enormous privilege of talking at length with one of Optimal Health’s clients – a very articulate and impassioned gentleman – who, in his spare time volunteers with a charity called A Band of Brothers.  Socially conscious, he came across the organization, ABOB, as it is affectionately known, mentoring young men between the ages of 18-26 years old, who are often on the cusp of the criminal justice system, who have witnessed or suffered abuse or neglect, and who have been denied the kind of start in life, all young people have the right to expect.  By the time they find ABOB, some of these young men truly believe the die is cast, and perhaps even, that their life is over.  Imagine that feeling at this tender age.

“When I was 19 and leaving home, it felt as if the world was my oyster”, Duncan tells me.  “These young men are so used to the negative messages that came their way, they have become the norm, and over time, this norm solidifies into a truth. How often did anybody ever ask them what they think, or more importantly, how they feel? They have been repeatedly let down and yet an instinctive resilience means that they still look for older people to be wrong about. The young men self-refer, which is essential as a first step towards taking control and making change. Once connected, they work with their individual mentor and regularly meet up with the group, discovering what it is to be fully seen and matter, and developing the skills and personal awareness, that help them become the person they want to be.”

No-one chooses to feel like there is no hope.  No-one chooses to be a prisoner when they grow up, and no baby is born bad.  So it has to be something that has gone wrong in society to cause these swelling figures in prisons and the growing need for selfless people like Duncan to do this kind of work.

I used to work in the criminal justice sector in the UK, and I spent a lot of time in prisons – both with prison officers and with the custodies themselves.  Both sides of the literal wall I found interesting, characterful and pleasant people.  Amongst the prisoners, there were many with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), diagnosed after they had been sentenced and now under the care of psychologists within the prison.  They were doing their best to understand and work through it, to ensure that they could lead a better life on release.  Prison staff believed in them, treated them with respect and humanity, and it went a long way to helping these men build up the self-confidence and hope that they had not arrived with, and possibly never had.  Some became mentors in prison to the younger ones – very much like the work that ABOB is doing, trying to stop these men getting further into trouble. 

PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Quoting PTSD UK, “Traumatic events can make us feel that our lives are unpredictable, that we are out of control, find it difficult to feel safe and trust other people, ourselves and our judgements.  We can lose faith and become disconnected from others.  It’s normal to have these emotions, along with upsetting memories, feeling on edge, or have trouble sleeping after this type of event, but if symptoms last more than a few months and interfere with your day-to-day life, it may be PTSD”. Even harder to treat, it could be Complex PSTD.  People who cannot self-regulate as a result of trauma or PTSD have a higher chance of behaving in a way that is considered contrary to the social norms.

It is estimated that 50% of people will experience a trauma at some point in their lives, the majority of these will experience short-term distress but eventually, their trauma fades to a memory – painful, but not destructive. 20% of this cohort, however, will go on to develop PTSD.  Examples of traumatic incidents can be anything from a road traffic incident to a difficult childbirth, being separated from caregivers at a young age such as attending boarding school, or witnessing a traumatic life-threatening event.  The traumatic event may even have happened at a pre-verbal stage in a person’s life when the hippocampus has not yet developed (pre-memory).  But it is still there and still may present itself in certain ways that is not linked to the original incident.  In moments when the unconscious trauma is triggered for instance, a person may become momentarily mute (reverting to a pre-verbal state), or even lose the strength in their legs (reverting to pre-walking stage).  This is where the fight or flight response is broken.

PTSD behaviour usually falls between two sets of symptoms:

  • Hyperarousal which is physical and psychological. This might present in difficulty in sleeping, lack of self-worth, addiction, avoidance or mental blankness.
  • Hypoarousal where people have problems handling intense emotions, experience sudden shifts in mood, depersonalisation and derealisation. Some have dissociative amnesia or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

As we know from our blogs in the past, mental health issues are as much physical as they are mental.  Unresolved issues do tend to result in physical dis-ease eventually.  To help heal trauma and the results of stored stress in the body, Optimal Health run assessments to discover the root cause of the presented pain and thereafter can provide therapies and treatments to work through elements of the healing trauma framework, providing signposting to other support if necessary.   

One of our therapies is Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT) which offers profound insight into addressing trauma by delving into the subconscious mind, uncovering and resolving deep-seated issues at their root. This innovative therapeutic approach combines principles of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to facilitate rapid and lasting change. By accessing the subconscious, RTT enables individuals to identify and understand the underlying causes of their trauma, which often manifest in repetitive and detrimental behavioural patterns. Through this comprehensive psychoanalytical process, RTT helps clients reframe negative beliefs and emotions, leading to significant emotional healing and personal transformation.

If you or anyone you know would like to understand more about PTSD, please contact  www.ptsduk.org.

Read more about ABandOfBrothers | Helping young men grow with purpose

For further information on our wellness programmes, please email careteam@optimal-healthgroup.com.

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