Valladolid

I absolutely LOVE Valladolid (pronounced “v-eye-ah-dough-leed”) and plan to spend a few weeks there during our 3-month trip to the Yucatan next year. The city is located halfway between Cancun and Merida on a new highway. I found this amazing article about the city and wanted to post it and give you a feel for this small city that captured my heart. The friends there were AMAZING. There is no English congregation there, only Spanish and maybe Mayan. Sounds like a good reason to increase my proficiency 🙂

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This article can be found at http://www.yucatanliving.com/valladolid-living/valladolid-sultaness-of-the-east

Next to Merida, the largest and most famous colonial city on the Yucatan Peninsula is Valladolid. Both cities are named after cities in Spain. Valladolid in Spain has the distinction of being, among other things, the place where Christopher Columbus died. In the Yucatan, Valladolid was established by another famous conquistador, Francisco de Montejo, like Merida, in 1543, the year after he established the city of Merida.

Long ago Valladolid was given the nickname of the Sultaness of the East, indicating its function as the business center of the Eastern Peninsula. But it seems to have always been number three, behind Merida (number one) and Campeche (number two) in the hit parade of colonial cities here. When we first moved to Merida, lo these many years ago now, we traveled to Valladolid on the way to somewhere. On the way to Tulum, or on the way back from Cancun or Playa del Carmen. We would stop by and have a delicious lunch around the patio at the Méson del Marqués Hotel, look around the zocalo and not find much, and then move on. Valladolid didn’t feel like a destination in our minds, especially compared to the places we were going to or coming from. Cancun, Campeche, Playa del Carmen, Merida… they have all seen an influx of government money for sprucing things up over the past few years, building hotels or renovating colonial facades and making the centro historico more attractive to tourists. Finally, about 2009 or so, it was Valladolid’s turn.

Why Valladolid?
So what makes Valladolid interesting? First, there is a lot of history here. The very first city in Mexico called Valladolid had its named changed to Morelia in Michoacan. The next settlement called Valladolid was set up near its current location in a place filled with mosquitoes and humidity (in the Yucatan? no, really?) and after protests from the early Spanish settlers, was moved to where it now stands.

 
Of course, the current location was then a Mayan settlement, and the fact that the Spaniards tore down the settlement (which probably included a sacred site or ten) and used the stones to build their colonial town just encouraged the local Mayan population to revolt, which had to be “put down” (according to Wikipedia). This should have been an indication to the Spaniards of the nature of the Mayans in this locale, but apparently it was not.

 
They were reminded again, however, when the Caste War broke out near Valladolid sometime in the early 1840’s. The spark that ignited the fire of the Caste War was the execution of three Mayans over land disputes, a consistent problem between conquering Spaniards and the Mayans whose party they insisted on crashing. At one point during the Caste War, Valladolid was completely under Mayan rule, with every Spaniard and Criollo (Mexican-born Spaniards) either fleeing to Merida or dead in the process. Eventually, after Merida stumbled into victory over the Mayans that had surrounded the city, Valladolid came back under colonial rule but it never quite regained its previous economic or cultural importance… until now.

 

The last time we visited Valladolid, we had a distinctly different experience and impression of this mysterious Sultaness. Dare we say it? Valladolid is starting to seem almost hip.
First of all, there’s the zocalo itself. Once a completely sleepy place, with a few huipile-clad women selling huipiles, it now seems to be bustling and humming every time we’re there. Yes, the same ladies are selling huipiles, but they are selling other locally-made products too, including Barbie-doll huipiles (how hip is that?), and doilies made of the same beautiful embroidered flowers that you see on huipiles. We always pick up a few of those, as they make great drink coasters. And Working Gringa was quite thrilled with a woven sisal purse she picked up at our last visit for only 70 pesos (a little more than $6 US).

 
On the main plaza now there’s the Maya Cafe, an espresso bar to the left of the Maria de la Luz Hotel/Restaurant which serves a great capuccino and is owned by a Merida/Valladolid couple. Yalat, the gift shop on the corner near the Meson de Marques, is owned by a member of the famous Barbachano family (Miguel Barbachano was the first governor of Yucatan), as is the dress shop and coffee bar directly opposite the Meson, named La Cantina Restaurante Bar. In La Cantina, we were drawn to the locally-made Surya jams and other concoctions (we bought the Mermelada de Mango con Chile) that we found rather high-priced, but uniquely tasty (they would make great gifts…). What clinched the deal was the label, claiming the jam was “Made with backyard mangoes from the Mayan Villages of Yucatan”. Que chido!

 
What we discovered is that there is more going on in Valladolid than immediately meets the eye.

 
From Vogue to Valladolid

On one of our last visits, we met up with Nicolas Malleville and his lovely partner, Francesca. Now what, you might ask, is a world-class male fashion model doing in Valladolid, other than passing through? As it turns out, quite a bit. Years ago, Nicolas bought a colonial building on the beautiful street that runs diagonally from the zocalo area to the San Bernardino Monastery, the Calle de Los Frailes (Street of the Friars). At the same time, he bought a beachfront lot in Tulum and a plot of land near Coba. And then he proceded to create a little empire of seductive beauty, which he has also expanded to Merida.

Coqui Coqui (a nickname he picked up somewhere along the way and then bestowed upon his endeavors which also happens to be the name of a Puerto Rican frog) is a four-location web of experience designed for the rich, the famous and the inquisitive. Coqui Coqui in Tulum is an intimate beachfront hotel with a few luxurious rooms, a tiny spa and a beach. Oh, and an uninterrupted view of the Caribbean. In Coba, Nicolas built a destination small hotel with seven rooms, each one with a unique theme. And in Valladolid, he has created the Coqui Coqui perfumery and spa (on the Calle de Los Frailes). The front room where they sell the perfume is dominated by a huge dark wood bookshelf, displaying the Coqui Coqui perfumes that Nicolas produces in Valladolid. In the rooms in the back, the spa is exquisitely decorated and appointed. We didn’t indulge in a treatment when we were there, but we did see a room where indulgence was encouraged, complete with a clawfoot bathtub, elegant mirrors, candles and fluffy towels, accompanied by the Coqui Coqui scents. We had to pinch ourselves to remember we weren’t in Paris. (Well, just stepping outside into the heat helped too…). While he may not be terrifically organized and while flying to photo shoots around the world might make it a bit hard to run his Yucatan empire, Nicolas is an expert at the art of creating caché, and nowhere is this more evident than at his ventures in and around Valladolid. We highly recommend a visit, and if you’re like us, you’ll be hard pressed to resist a perfume purchase at the very least.

Casa de Los Venados

On our next visit to Valladolid, we spent the afternoon with John and Dorianne Venator (pronounced like “senator” but with a “V”). This couple spends most of the year in Chicago, where John works (as of 2008) as the president and CEO of the CompTIA Educational Foundation, an industry trade association. He and Dorianne have long been fans of Mexican folk art, and a few years ago, set about looking for a home in Mexico. They originally considered Oaxaca, but decided that building in Oaxaca was going to be too much trouble. They had a condo in Cancun, John knew Puebla from living there during college and they had spent time in Merida as well. But nothing had fallen into place for them. One day, they happened to drive into Valladolid, looked at some houses there for sale, and fell in love (you can read the entire story here).

 
They eventually purchased an old colonial just off the main square which they have named Casa de Los Venados (House of the Deer), a name that relates to their surname and is a tribute to the deer which are a revered animal in the state of Yucatan. They maintained the historically-protected facade, but inside they constructed a massive and modern 18,000 square foot compound… sort of a house-cum-private-hotel that serves as a place to entertain friends and visiting dignitaries, and as a museum for their massive collection of Mexican folk art. Their art collection, by the way, rivals the folk art in the Museo de Arte Popular in Merida (they are big supporters…).

 
When we visited, the Venators graciously showed us around, pointing out magnificent paintings, sculptures, carved furniture, pots and more. Many of the pieces of art and craft that were created for the house and feature deer, as befits the name. The entrance to the house alone is awe-inspiring: a colorful and playful 11 by 17 foot framed high relief, ceramic mural, commissioned from Luis and Jorge Valencia of Oaxaca, depicting a Mayan village scene. This ceramic mural was created in Oaxaca and then shipped and installed in the entrance to Casa de Los Venados… and it is spectacular (what you see in the photo to the left is just a detail). The Venators took us through all the rooms of the huge house, explaining that what we saw was just a fraction of their collection. All we can say is wow…

 
The Venators could be the gringo Medicis of Valladolid, although their reach is far beyond the city limits. They are serious art collectors, both in Mexico and in Chicago, whose collecting adds support to many Mexican artists. Their hard-won philosophy of life is that there are two ultimate luxuries in life: Time and Space. They have created a luxurious space in Valladolid, which may someday include an art museum open to the public, as well as a space suitable for public events. And they hope soon to create more time to spend in their chosen city of Valladolid. Not only do they love the peace and tranquility that Valladolid has made available to them, but they have given back quite a bit to the city in the way of jobs and financial investment. They have made friends with everyone in government there, calling the mayor and other important personages their friends. Their quest for art continues, and we hope in the future, their vast art collection will be available for Valladolid visitors and residents to see and enjoy.

 

The Future of Valladolid

The Venators are Valladolid ambassadors among the English-speaking community here and wherever they go. They are big believers in the future of Valladolid, and we got the feeling that we weren’t the first people they had squired around town, pointing out the highlights. We had a lovely lunch at the Méson del Marqués Hotel (does *everybody* eat there? it seems to be the case…), including guacamole fixed fresh at the table (we highly recommend it!). After lunch, the Venators drove us around a bit.We visited Casa Quetzal, a small hotel just off the very spacious park in front of the San Bernardino Monastery, as well as the ever-popular Casa Hamaca, just a few blocks from the main square.

Nicolas Malleville, Larsen and the Venators are just two examples of the growing group of expats who are choosing to make Valladolid home. Others we have met include Lucie Levine, a transplant from California who is renovating a home in the Candelaria district. Lucie specializes in community educational projects involving solar energy, compost toilets and other accoutrements of sustainable living. The Candelaria district is also home to a few Italian expats who have opened Casa Itali, an Italian restaurant featuring authentic brick oven pizza, fresh pasta, caffe espresso Illy, and authentic capuccinos. And of course there is Denis Larsen, who runs Casa Hamaca, a B&B that is also a center for alternative healing, including his famous hammock massages. We’ve read that Valladolid is already visited by one million tourists per year, and that this number is growing. And of course, Valladolid has now been designated a Pueblo Magico, making it a target of funds from the federal government for preservation and promotion.

 
Expats and Mexicans alike are beginning to appreciate what Valladolid has to offer. The Mexican government is pouring money into Valladolid, recognizing it as the closest colonial city to the hyper-tourist region of the Mayan Riviera. And it’s exactly halfway (approximately 160 kilometers) between Cancun and Merida, making it the perfect stopover for travelers between the two cities. It’s not far off the carretera, and now the entrance to the city is clearly marked. (By the way, if you are a car buff, as you are entering Valladolid, be sure to stop at the Hacienda Sanchez on your left… they have an antique automobile museum that is quite interesting!) We are of the opinion that Valladolid’s fame and fortune is just beginning… and apparently we’re not alone in that opinion.

 
Grupo Plan has constructed Valladolid’s first shopping center, called Plaza Bella. Anchored with a Chedraui grocery store and Cines Hollywood movie theatres, the shopping mall also contains Italian Coffee, Burger King, Telcel stores, Big Home and various smaller stores, which opened in January 2009. Also planned for the coming years in other locations are a Bodega Aurrera (WalMart’s grocery store that caters to Mexican tastes) and Soriana (another large grocery chain). A new state hospital has been built that holds 62 beds, 2 operating rooms and a heliport. The city has been named the Honey Capital of the World, as noted by Yucatan Living in one of our weekly news reports, and there is a plaque on Santa Lucia Ave. saying so. And if the Gobernadora’s Super Fast Train between Cancun and Progreso ever becomes reality, Valladolid will be a stop along the way.

 
Mysterious Sultaness

Valladolid… in a few short years, it has grown from a historic but sleepy colonial town into a major jewel in the crown of colonial cities in the Yucatan. We haven’t even mentioned that Valladolid is just 15 short kilometers from Uayma, one of our favorite Yucatan destinations. And we haven’t even touched on the cenotes within walking distance of the zocalo, the great food that Valladolid is known for, or the other neighborhoods and activities going on around the city.

As the Sultaness of the East, Valladolid keeps a little mystery about her. She seems to be a normal, colonial town, just basking in the Yucatecan sun. She tempts, she teases, she hides beyond a veil of sleepy anonymity. Don’t be fooled into thinking there is nothing there!

Let Your Will Be Done

So, I really want it all! I’ve realized that I have been favoring Italy over a closer opportunity because of my own desires so tonight I poured out my heart to Jah. This really needs to be His will and not mine. I can still go to Italy for vacation, but I can’t ignore the signs pointing due south to MX and Belize. I guess that’s a bit of spiritual maturity and progress, right? I’m a work in progress 🙂

Communication For Marriages 101

how to discuss problems

Reblogged from JW.org 

THE CHALLENGE

When you and your spouse discuss a problem, do you seem to end up further apart than when you started the conversation? If so, you can improve the situation. First, though, there are a few things you should know about the different communication styles of men and women. Read the article as reblogged here and then go to the original site for more encouraging, informative, and helpful articles for couples here

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Women usually prefer to talk out a problem before hearing a solution. In fact, sometimes talking is the solution.

“I feel better when I have expressed my feelings and know that my husband understands me. After I talk about it, I’m over it—usually within just minutes after the conversation.”—Sirppa. *

“I can’t move on if I don’t have a chance to explain to my husband exactly how I feel. Talking it out is a form of closure for me.”—Ae-Jin.

“It’s like detective work. As I talk, I’m analyzing each step of the problem and trying to get to the root of it.”—Lurdes.

Men tend to think in terms of solutions. That is understandable because fixing things makes a man feel useful. Offering solutions is his way of showing his wife that she can rely on him for help. So husbands are baffled when their solutions are not readily accepted. “I can’t understand why you would talk about a problem if you didn’t want a solution!” says a husband named Kirk.

But “understanding must precede advice,” warns the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. “You have to let your partner know that you fully  understand and empathize with the dilemma before you suggest a solution. Oftentimes your spouse isn’t asking you to come up with a solution at all—just to be a good listener.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO

For husbands: Practice empathetic listening. A husband named Tomás says: “Sometimes after listening I think to myself, ‘That didn’t accomplish anything.’ But often that’s all my wife needs—a listening ear.” A husband named Stephen would agree. “I find it best to let my wife express herself without interrupting,” he says. “More often than not, she finishes and tells me she feels a lot better.”

Try this: The next time you discuss a problem with your wife, resist the urge to give unsolicited advice. Make eye contact, and focus on what she is saying. Nod in agreement. Repeat the gist of what she says to show that you get the point. “Sometimes my wife just needs to know that I understand her and that I’m on her side,” says a husband named Charles.—Bible principle: James 1:19.

For wives: Say what you need. “We might expect our spouse to know just what we need,” says a wife named Eleni, “but sometimes we do have to spell it out.” A wife named Ynez suggests this approach: “I could say, ‘Something is bothering me, and I would like you to hear me out. I don’t need you to fix it, but I would like you to understand how I feel.’”

Try this: If your husband prematurely offers solutions, do not conclude that he is being insensitive. Likely he is trying to lighten your load. “Instead of getting annoyed,” says a wife named Ester, “I try to realize that my husband does care and wants to listen but that he also just wants to help.”—Bible principle: Romans 12:10.

For both: We tend to treat others the way we want to be treated. However, to discuss problems effectively, you need to consider how your spouse would like to be treated. (1 Corinthians 10:24) A husband named Miguel puts it this way: “If you are a husband, be willing to listen. If you are a wife, be willing to hear solutions once in a while. When you meet in the middle, both spouses benefit.”—Bible principle: 1 Peter 3:8.

Survivors of Abuse

 

THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES

Jehovah Has Done So Much for Me

Crystal, a victim of sexual abuse as a child, tells how learning what the Bible teaches helped her to build a relationship with Jehovah God and to find meaning in her life. Click the link to view her video:

https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/activities/living-bible-principles/adult-survivor-child-abuse-video/ 

To watch a video on protecting your children from abusers visit:

https://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/family/children/become-jehovahs-friend/videos/protect-your-children/

An End to PTSD?

Traumatic Stress Will End!

(From http://m.wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102001603)

PERHAPS you are a war veteran and you suffer from nightmares and flashbacks that make it seem as though the war has still not ended for you. Perhaps you are a victim of heartless violence such as rape and feel that a part of you died in the horror of the experience. Or it may be that a loved one died in a natural disaster or accident and continuing without that one is extremely painful.

Do you wonder if such feelings can be changed? We can answer with confidence: Yes, they can! In the meantime, all who suffer trauma can find comfort in God’s Word, the Bible.

Helped to Endure Trauma

Nearly two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul underwent terrifying, life-threatening experiences. His descriptions of some of these are preserved in the Bible. “We do not wish you to be ignorant,” Paul wrote, “about the tribulation that happened to us in the district of Asia, that we were under extreme pressure beyond our strength, so that we were very uncertain even of our lives. In fact, we felt within ourselves that we had received the sentence of death.”—2 Corinthians 1:8, 9.

While it is not known exactly what happened on that occasion, it was certainly traumatic. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) How did Paul cope?

Reflecting on his ordeal in Asia, he wrote: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those in any sort of tribulation through the comfort with which we ourselves are being comforted by God.”—2 Corinthians 1:3, 4.

Yes, help for trauma survivors is available from “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort.” How can you obtain such comfort?

How to Receive Help

First—ask for help. If you feel emotionally paralyzed, remember that others have felt that way too. Those who have overcome such feelings are usually glad to assist others. Like the apostle Paul, they often feel that the comfort they received from God during their trial needs to be shared with “those in any sort of tribulation.” Do not hesitate to approach one of Jehovah’s Witnesses—any one of them with whom you feel comfortable—and request assistance in obtaining help from Jehovah, “the God of all comfort.”

Persevere in prayer. If prayer is difficult because you have feelings of anger, ask someone spiritually qualified to pray with you. (James 5:14-16) When you speak to Jehovah God, remember to “throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Over and over the Scriptures emphasize the personal concern that God has for each of his servants.

The writer of Psalm 94 may well have experienced something very traumatic, for he wrote: “Unless Jehovah had been of assistance to me, in a little while my soul would have resided in silence. When I said: ‘My foot will certainly move unsteadily,’ your own loving-kindness, O Jehovah, kept sustaining me. When my disquieting thoughts became many inside of me, your own consolations began to fondle my soul.”—Psalm 94:17-19.

Some sufferers of traumatic stress are especially troubled by “disquieting thoughts,” which can become at times an overwhelming torrent of panic or rage. However, heartfelt prayer can help “sustain” you until those feelings pass. Think of Jehovah as a loving parent and of yourself as a small child whom he lovingly protects. Remember the Bible’s promise that “the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:7.

Healing—whether physical, mental, or spiritual—is a gradual process. So it would be unrealistic to expect that prayer will bring instant peace to those seriously damaged by traumatic experiences. Yet, persistent prayer is vital. It will help keep the sufferer from being overwhelmed and driven to despair by post-traumatic emotions.

Read and meditate on God’s Word. If concentration is difficult, ask someone to read comforting Bible accounts with you. You might choose passages that reveal the depth of Jehovah’s tender concern for his faithful ones, no matter how depressed or despairing they may feel.

Jane, mentioned in the preceding articles, drew comfort from many Bible passages in the Psalms. They include Psalm 3:1-8; 6:6-8; 9:9, 10; 11:1-7; 18:5, 6; 23:1-6; 27:7-9; 30:11, 12; 31:12, 19-22; 32:7, 8; 34:18, 19; 36:7-10; 55:5-9, 22; 56:8-11; 63:6-8; 84:8-10;130:1-6. Do not try to read too many Bible passages at one time. Rather, take time to meditate on them and pray.

Unprecedented Distress Now

Sadly, it should be no surprise that rapes, murders, wars, and needless violence abound today. Why? Because Jesus Christ characterized our time as one in which there would be an “increasing of lawlessness.” He added: “The love of the greater number will cool off.”Matthew 24:7, 12.

In recent years traumatic stress has become all too common—often as a result of the very events that Jesus foretold. As recorded in the Bible in Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21, Jesus said that in this world’s time of the end, there would be international wars, natural disasters, and increased lawlessness and lovelessness. Yet, as Jesus also observed, relief is not far off.

After describing a worldwide epidemic of trauma and the start of “great tribulation” to follow, note what Jesus said people should do: “Raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Matthew 24:21-31; Luke 21:28) Yes, as world conditions worsen, we can be sure that great tribulation upon this distress-causing system of things will culminate in the end of all wickedness and the ushering in of a righteous new system.—1 John 2:17; Revelation 21:3, 4.

We should not be surprised that our deliverance will come only after wickedness and violence have reached their zenith. God’s judgments in the past against the world of Noah’s day and the vile inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah followed a similar pattern. Those past executions of divine judgment show what will happen in the future.—2 Peter 2:5, 6.

The End of Traumatic Stress

If you suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may wonder if your painful memories will ever be laid to rest. Yet, the answer surely is: Yes, they will be! At Isaiah 65:17, Jehovah God declares: “I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” Although the psychological scars of past trauma may seem permanent, this scripture assures us that someday their power to disturb will be entirely gone.

Today, over one year after the attempted rape, Jane is serving as a pioneer minister (full-time evangelizer) of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “It was not until the trial was over and my attacker had been convicted—more than eight months after the attack—that I really felt like myself again,” she said recently. “This time last year, I could not have imagined the peace and happiness I now enjoy. I thank Jehovah for the beautiful hope of everlasting life and the chance to share that hope with others.”—Psalm 27:14.

If you are struggling with the despair and paralyzing emotional numbness of PTSD, that hope can help sustain you as well.

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Attending Christian meetings can help you to cope

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Reading God’s Word and praying can help sustain you

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Soon all trauma will be a thing of the past

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic Stress—What Is It?

(From http://m.wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102001602)

YEARS AGO, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was usually called shell shock or combat fatigue and was studied primarily in connection with military veterans.* Today much has changed. You don’t have to be a soldier to be diagnosed with PTSD. You only have to be a survivor of some traumatic event.

The event could be anything from a war to a rape attempt to a car accident. A fact sheet from the National Center for PTSD, in the United States, puts it this way: “To be diagnosed with PTSD, an individual must have been exposed to a traumatic event.” And this event “must involve some type of actual or threatened PHYSICAL injury or assault.”

Jane, mentioned in the preceding article, relates: “I have learned that sudden terror causes certain hormones to surge, and these hormones cause the senses to become hyperalert to danger. Ordinarily hormone levels fall back down to normal after the danger has passed, but in the case of PTSD sufferers, they remain elevated.” The event was in the past, but the terror of those moments seemed to be trying to take up permanent residence in Jane’s mind, like an unwelcome tenant who ignores an eviction notice.

If you have survived a trauma and are experiencing similar aftereffects, it is important to realize that you are not alone. In a book she wrote on rape, author Linda E. Ledray explains that PTSD “is a normal reaction seen in normal people who have been through a terrifying situation in which they could not control what was happening.”

Yet, calling PTSD normal doesn’t mean that every survivor of a trauma will develop it. Ledray notes: “A 1992 study found that, one week after a rape, 94 percent of the survivors evaluated met the criteria for PTSD and at twelve weeks 47 percent continued to do so. Fifty percent of the women seen at the Sexual Assault Resource Service in Minneapolis in 1993 met the criteria for PTSD one year after rape.”

Such statistics reveal that PTSD is common, far more common than most people realize. And all sorts of people are sufferers, following many types of incidents. Authors Alexander C. McFarlane and Lars Weisaeth observe: “Recent studies have shown that traumatic events frequently happen to civilians during peacetime, as well as to soldiers and war victims, and that many survivors of such frequent events develop PTSD.” Even medical procedures or heart attacks have triggered PTSD in some individuals.

“PTSD has turned out to be a very common disorder,” explain the above-quoted authors. They further say: “A random survey of 1,245 American adolescents showed that 23% had been the victims of physical or sexual assaults, as well as witnesses of violence against others. One out of five of the exposed adolescents developed PTSD. This suggests that approximately 1.07 million U.S. teenagers currently suffer from PTSD.”

If the statistic is accurate, that means there are a lot of teenage sufferers in just one country! What can be done for such persons, as well as for the many millions of other sufferers worldwide?

What Can Be Done?

If you believe that you or someone you know may suffer from PTSD, the following are some suggestions.

Strive to maintain a spiritual program. “I always attended the meetings at our local Kingdom Hall,” explains Jane. “Even when I could not concentrate on what was being said, I knew that that was where Jehovah God wanted me to be. Those in the congregation were extremely loving and upbuilding, and the love and personal interest shown meant a great deal to me throughout the whole ordeal.” Jane adds: “It also helped me when I read the psalms. Somehow the prayers of afflicted ones seemed to speak for me. When I couldn’t say what I wanted to in prayer, I could just say ‘Amen.’”

Don’t hold back from encouraging the sufferer. If you have a loved one dealing with the horrible memory of some traumatic event, understand that he or she is not overreacting or deliberately being difficult. Because of emotional numbness, anxiety, or anger, he or she may not be able to respond as you would wish to the efforts you are making to be supportive. But don’t give up! As the Bible says, “a true companion is loving all the time, and is a brother that is born for when there is distress.”—Proverbs 17:17.

The sufferer needs to recognize and avoid unwise coping strategies that cause further harm. These include use of illicit drugs and overindulgence in alcoholic beverages. Although alcohol and drugs may give promise of temporary relief, they soon make matters worse. They usually contribute to social isolation, rejection of the people who want to help, workaholism, uncontrolled anger, uncontrolled or overcontrolled eating, or other self-destructive behavior.

Consult with a competent health professional. It may turn out that the sufferer doesn’t have PTSD, but if he or she does, effective therapies exist.* If you are receiving professional help, be honest with that person and ask for help to overcome any of the above behaviors.

Remember: Physical wounds are often the first to heal, but people suffering from PTSD can be wounded in many ways in body, mind, and spirit. The next article will discuss further ways that the sufferer and those around him can take part in the healing process and will also discuss the hope for all sufferers of post-traumatic shock.

[Footnotes]

See the articles “Do They Come Back the Same?” and “He Came Back a Stranger,” in Awake! of August 8, 1982.

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not officially promote or recommend any specific form of therapy, be it medical or psychiatric.

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Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress

Many trauma survivors find themselves reexperiencing the trauma in their mind. Survivors usually can’t control this or stop it from occurring. The consequences may include:

• Flashbacks—feelings that the trauma is happening again

• Bad dreams and nightmares

• A tendency to be very startled by loud noises or by someone unexpectedly coming up to them from behind

• A shaky feeling and sweatiness

• A pounding heart or trouble breathing

• A feeling of upset when reminded of the trauma by something seen, heard, felt, smelled, or tasted

• Anxiety or fear—the feeling of being in danger again

• Trouble controlling emotions because reminders lead to sudden anxiety, anger, or upset

• Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly

• Difficulty falling or staying asleep

• Agitation and a constant state of being on the lookout for danger

• An emotional shutdown or emotional numbness

• Trouble having loving feelings or feeling any strong emotions

• The feeling that surroundings are strange or unreal

• Loss of interest in things that were previously enjoyable

• Trouble remembering important parts of what happened during the trauma

• A feeling of being disconnected from the world around them and the things happening to them

[Pictures on page 5]

A variety of traumatic events can trigger PTSD

How to Help Those With Anxiety Disorders

From http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102012090 

“My heart often pounds really hard, and I break out in a cold sweat and find it difficult to catch my breath. I am overcome by feelings of dread, anxiety, and mental confusion.”—Isabella, a panic disorder sufferer in her forties.

ANXIETY can be described as “a feeling of nervousness or worry.” Have you, for example, ever felt nervous when confronted by an angry dog? What happens when the dog goes away? The nervousness and worry do too, don’t they? What, though, is an anxiety disorder?

When anxiety becomes chronic, when it continues even after there is no more need to feel anxious, anxiety can become a disorder. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older . . . in a given year.” Consider Isabella, quoted in the introduction. Unrelenting anxiety, such as she experiences, can have serious consequences for the sufferer.

Not only that, but the immediate family may also be affected adversely. There is good news, though. An NIMH publication states: “Effective therapies for anxiety disorders are available, and research is uncovering new treatments that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives.”

Family and friends can also help one who is suffering from an anxiety disorder. How?

How to Help

Be supportive: Monica, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, explains a difficulty she faces: “Most people find it hard to understand my emotional problems.”

As a result, anxiety disorder sufferers are often so afraid of being misunderstood that they try to hide their problem from others. This can result in feelings of guilt that worsen their emotional state. It is vitally important, therefore, for family and friends to be supportive.

Learn more about the disorder: This suggestion may be especially appropriate for those who deal closely with sufferers of anxiety disorders. This may include an immediate family member or a particularly close friend.

Keep comforting one another: The first-century missionary Paul urged friends in the Greek city of Thessalonica to “keep comforting one another and building one another up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) We can do this both by our words and our tone of voice. We need to show that we deeply care for our friends, and we need to avoid hurtful insinuations.

Consider the three professed friends of the man Job, after whom a book in the Bible is named. Those men, as you may remember, wrongly implied that Job was in some way covering over concealed sins and that his suffering was the result of his cover-up.

So, be sensitive to a sufferer’s feelings. Listen carefully. Try to view matters through the eyes of the one who is suffering, rather than through your own. Do not jump to conclusions while listening. Job’s professed friends did, and as a result, they were called “troublesome comforters.” They actually made him feel worse!—Job 16:2.

Remember to listen carefully to sufferers. Allow them to express freely how they feel. This may help you to understand better what they are going through. And think of the reward! You may be able to help sufferers enjoy a more full and meaningful life.

Identifying Types of Anxiety Disorders

Understanding anxiety disorders is vital, especially when the people involved are immediate family members or close friends. Consider five types of such disorders.

Panic Disorders Recall Isabella, mentioned in the introduction of our article. It is not only the attacks of anxiety that she finds disabling. “In between them, there is the dread that an attack is going to happen again,” she says. As a result, sufferers tend to avoid places where they have had an attack. Some become so restricted that they are housebound or are able to confront a feared situation only when accompanied by someone they trust. Isabella explained: “Merely being alone is enough to trigger an attack. Mother gives me security; I can’t stand it if she is not nearby.”

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder A person obsessed with germs or dirt may develop a compulsion to wash his hands over and over again. Regarding a similar compulsion, Renan says: “My mind is in constant turmoil as I go over and over past mistakes, reanalyzing them and looking at them from every possible angle.” The result is an obsession to confess past mistakes to others. Renan is in constant need of reassurance. But medication has been of help in controlling his obsession.*

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) In recent times this term has been used to describe a range of psychological symptoms people may experience following an extremely traumatic event that involved physical harm or the threat of such. PTSDsufferers may startle easily, be irritable, become emotionally numb, lose interest in things they once enjoyed, and have trouble feeling affection for others—especially those with whom they used to be close. Some become aggressive, even violent, and tend to avoid situations that remind them of the original traumatic incident.

Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder This is a term used to identify people who are overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations. Some sufferers have an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. They may worry for days or weeks before attending an event. Their fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, or other ordinary activities and makes it hard for them to make and keep friends.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Monica, mentioned earlier, suffers from this disorder. She goes through the day filled with “exaggerated worries,” even though there is little or nothing to provoke them. Sufferers tend to anticipate disaster and are overly concerned with health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Just the thought of getting through the day may produce anxiety.*

[Footnotes]

Awake! does not endorse any specific medical treatment.

The above material is based on a publication of the National Institute of Mental Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.