The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire

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70%

of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. That’s 223.4 million people.

Up to 20%

of these people go on to develop PTSD. As of today, that’s 31.3 million people who did or are struggling with PTSD

An estimated 8%

of Americans – that’s 24.4 million people – have PTSD at any given time.

Approximately 1 out of 10

women develops PTSD; women are about twice as likely as men.

22%

of people who had suffered PTSD from rape attempted suicide at one point in their lifetime.

60 – 80% 

who are victims of a severe traumatic experience will develop PTSD

Almost 50%

of all outpatient mental health patients have PTSD.

20%

of the soldiers who’ve been deployed in the past 6 years have PTSD. That’s over 300,000.

$42.3 billion 

is the estimated annual cost to society of anxiety disorders, often due to misdiagnosis and undertreatment. This includes psychiatric and nonpsychiatric medical treatment costs, indirect workplace costs, mortality costs, and prescription drug costs.

90%

of sexually abused children develop PTSD.

24%

of individuals who were confronted with sexual assault as a child attempted suicide throughout their lifetime.

77%

of children exposed to a school shooting develop PTSD

30 – 60%

of children who have survived specific disasters have PTSD

35%

of urban youth exposed to community violence have PTSD

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Do those stats upset or anger you? They should because they are alarming and sad. But it's the reality of our world right now. The passing of Kate Spade is just another reminder that mental illness affects all of us. At every age. In every industry. No matter how much or how little you have. 

These stats are just a small reason why I'm becoming a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach. I have my personal reasons which I've posted about before but what started as internal motivations has become just as much about these external motivations. The world is hurting and at times, it feels like there's nothing we can do as individuals. I've felt that helplessness so many times over the last few years. But when I found out that I could make a difference -- albeit a small one -- I knew it was something I had to do. 

When I started the training, I didn't exactly have an "end game." I hardly knew anything about what a trauma recovery coach did, much less what I would do with the training. But as I made my way through the training, I started to see the big picture. I started to envision all the ways I could help people. I saw myself doing exactly what I've always dreamed of doing:

More. 

I've had that nagging feeling inside of me since I was in high school. That feeling that I was destined to do something more than what society usually tells us we should want or do (Cushy job! Marriage! Babies! White picket fence!). I just didn't know what that "more" would be. But now, I do. 

“There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.”
– Oprah Winfrey

For the moment, I'm keeping my options open for the future. I still have a lot of learning left to do. Experiences to make. It's ironic that as we learn more about the conditions of others, we start to evolve, ourselves. 

This training has been more than just an educational experience or a foundation to a future career. It's changed my life in ways I didn't expect. 

I've learned about my own trauma and recovery. I've learned how to relate to people on a much deeper level than ever before. But the most important thing that I've learned so far is that advocates for trauma survivors and mental illness are so very needed. 

We can make a difference and that matters. 

That's precisely why I've invested money, time, energy and lots of tears into my training. It's why I haven't finished the latest draft of my WIP or revisions are going slow. It's why I haven't read a book other than something trauma-related in ages. It's why I work a full time job and then spend my nights going to class, doing homework, attending practice sessions and support groups. When someone asks me "how do you do it?" I tell them it's because at this point, I can't NOT do it. I've realized that this endeavor is a calling for me and I owe it to those who supported me during my own recovery to repay the gesture to others. 

I want to leave you with a quote from The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk, MD that stopped me in my tracks with its power. The answer isn't ignorance. The answer isn't just medication. The answer is this:

The brain-disease model overlooks four fundamental truths: (1) our capacity to destroy one another is matched by our capacity to heal one another. Restoring relationships and community is central to restoring well-being; (2) language gives us the power to change ourselves and others by communicating our experiences, helping us to define what we know, and finding a common sense of meaning; (3) we have the ability to regulate our own physiology, including some of the so-called involuntary functions of the body and brain, through such basic activities as breathing, moving, and touching; and (4) we can change social conditions to create environments in which children and adults can feel safe and where they can thrive. 
When we ignore these quintessential dimensions of humanity, we deprive people of ways to heal from trauma and restore their autonomy.

I truly believe that if we leaned into our capacity to heal one another, we would have much less destruction. You don't even have to be a certified trauma coach to do that work, either. 

All you need to do is care.