"For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter." - Yoda, Star Wars
As an individual living with Complex PTSD, I have long been fascinated by the hero / superhero archetype, and the many examples of heroic skills being borne out of darkness and trauma, transformed into a powerful light and drive to help mankind. PTSD survivors possess many traits (symptoms) that can be harnessed for good, among them, a generalized hypersensitivity and awareness of surroundings, both physical and energetic. Many of us have faced death, had it brush our skin, shake our bodies, flash by our eyes or through our mind -- an undeniable knowing that our mortality may be but a breath away. In Star Wars speak, we have faced the "Dark Side." The Star Wars Wiki refers to a Jedi as "a Force-sensitive individual, most often a member of the Jedi Order, who studied, served, and used the mystical energies of the Force; usually, the light side of the Force." Fans of the films know well the Jedi must deny the Dark Side, despite the relentless pull and allure.
PTSD survivors often face a similar dilemma. Having been intimately acquainted with the Dark Side, PTSD survivors struggle to keep the darkness at bay. Depression and suicidal thoughts are common. It is also common to fear the world around you; each time you step out your door (or perhaps within your own home), you feel a palpable sense of the Dark Side that non-traumatized humans do not. Many try to escape this crushing fear by self-medicating with alcohol or drugs and by isolation.
Yet, I have encountered countless PTSD survivors that have adapted their intimate exposure to the Dark Side and harnessed the power for good. Most, for no true benefit of their own, beyond satisfying a need to make good grow from pain, to protect others from trauma, to heal humans from trauma, and nurture trauma awareness. For me, facing potential death over and over made me sharper and more alive than I had been before.
The brilliant book "Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell illuminates the universal myth of the hero journey, that has persisted across cultures and centuries. The book, "Empathy in the Treatment of Trauma and PTSD" by By John P. Wilson, Ph.D. and Rhiannon Brywnn Thomas, Ph.D., references Campbell's book. Here are some brief excerpts, but I recommend reading the full passage here or purchasing the book: "In the universal myth of the hero, an ordinary individual encounters, at some point in his life journey, profoundly frightening and traumatic difficulties.... "these strong forces constitute a zone of danger to the soul, spirit, identity and life itself.... "After enduring peril, turmoil and the specter of death, the Hero emerges with a new perspective of himself, with unrealized strength, potential and power which await unification in an emergent self."
And back to the Jedi... guess who also is a fan of Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Faces?" -- “In the three decades since I discovered The Hero with a Thousand Faces, it has continued to fascinate and inspire me. As a book, it is wonderful to read; as illumination into the human condition, it is a revelation.” — George Lucas
While on this theme, I'd like to highlight a fellow PTSD survivor - "PTSD Jedi" Sam who has emerged as a hero and a voice for the many silent sufferers of PTSD. Sam chronicles the constant journey from raw and brutal trauma to living, to being alive, to channeling empathy and helping others. His blog inspired my website.
Who is PTSD Jedi? Sam, the writer behind the PTSD Jedi project and blog, says: “I wrote Jedi on the census for a reason. I’m part of that Jedi generation, seriously my moral compass points north. I grew up watching Star wars, Indiana Jones, and the fucking A-team! Like there was even an option to not help. The force is strong with this one.”
I'm with you on that one, Sam! The Force is Strong with PTSD Survivors.
More about PTSD Jedi: "Sam is a former London high school teacher who was caught in the 2004 Asian Tsunami on Koh Phi Phi island on the west coast of Thailand. Sam was part of the initial group of tourists who were first responders in the search and rescue for almost 24 hours, before outside help arrived. The aim of his blog www.ptsdjedi.com “a tsunami survivor’s journey of healing” is to raise awareness for PTSD, in order try to highlight the countless men, women and children who suffer trauma in silence. And, how with greater understanding and early and accurate diagnosis we can genuinely support those that suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sam is also passionate about the arts, education, travel, politics and most importantly having human rights for everyone."
Follow ptsdjedi on Twitter, and follow and share his blog: PTSD Jedi
May the Force Be With You.