Woodworking and PTSD
For people struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, making it through the day can be a burden. The depression and anxiety often lead to self harm, substance addiction, destroyed or damaged family/personal/business relationships, or even suicide, especially in cases where the patients don’t seek treatment and/or have no outlet with which to relieve the stress caused by their condition. Especially severe are cases of CPTSD, or complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which is caused by repeated trauma over months or years. These cases are caused by prolonged periods of trauma, eg. child/domestic abuse and kidnapping. Therapy is an important tool in recovering from any form of PTSD, but there is also a need for some form of regular activity and self-esteem building. In a recent interview with Sawnery.com, three individuals with PTSD shared their personal stories of how woodworking has been a useful asset in their recovery.
The story of Mierop Mann
The first of the three people interviewed about their experience with woodworking was Mierop Mann, a 52 year old man who was dealing with formerly repressed memories of an abusive childhood and hostile home environment. After he first tried his hand at carpentry due to needing repairs on a piece of furniture, he recalls, “As I noticed a new piece of furniture coming alive, I felt that the childhood trauma I endured and the struggle to stay alive as a grownup was busy communicating with me, it was the balance of passion and creativity starting to work deep from within. I felt alive, validated, and I had an urge to create more of this painstaking therapeutic furniture challenges (sic). To find a new avenue through passion is extremely liberating, especially if it happens right in front of you.” He continues by stating that woodworking has helped him to control his anger and confusion, both of which are common symptoms of PTSD.
The story of Laura B. Paskavitz
The second person who was interviewed was Laura B Paskavitz, a 50 year old woman who has been on disability leave for the past 25 years, and is struggling with CPTSD and dissociative identity disorder from being raised by a cult. She said, “My self confidence has improved and I’m inspired to live more in the moment and enjoy the process… I think people struggling with self-esteem issues who may not see their own value would benefit from woodworking. By learning to create and build, the hope is that the process and outcome will prove they can make, and are themselves, something to be valued.”
The story of Rolando Corral
The final person to share their woodworking experience was Rolando Corral, a 38 year old US Army veteran who not only found carpentry to be personally helpful for his mental state, but has created a business from it. “In 2017, I founded I.G.Y (I’ve, Got, Your) Wood Creations. Our mission to is restore hope for military veterans and first responders through reclaimed wood. We handcraft wooden flags and sale them. We also donate a flag at no cost to most charitable causes.” According to Corral, his original inspiration came to him after other types of PTSD treatment failed for him. “About 2010, I started having a recurring dream after so many failures in other types of therapy. The dream was about me being out in nature and feeling better about myself. And in the dream, another a (sic) veteran and I built a wooded (sic) American flag out of reclaimed wood and I convinced him not to commit suicide.”
These three stories prove that woodworking can be an effective way of coping with mental trauma, and in a broader sense, getting passionate about something, even a task as trivial as repairing furniture, goes a lot further than most people expect.
Reuben Friedlander describes himself as “genius, attractive, and not particularly modest.” Reuben joined Different Brains in 2017. He enjoys video games, fantasy reading, hats, Dwarf Fortress, and writing silly humor. Reuben writes all kinds of articles for the website, while assisting with video editing and transcription.