Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: PTSD: Overcome the Pain, Start Living Again

Today I will be reviewing PTSD:Overcome the Pain, Start Living Again by John Mackey (2015). Mackey wrote this in response to his own battle with PTSD and I applaud him for being willing to discuss and share his experiences in order to help others. It isn't easy to share that you have PTSD publicly. It is, as Mackey points out, a misunderstood illness that is difficult for people to talk about However, cancer also used to be misinterpreted and misunderstood and it was education that changed that. We need to follow in Mackey's example and expose the lies and misconceptions about PTSD so that we may support and love those who deal with its realities everyday of their lives.

I found Mackey's book to be an easy read. It is a pleasant basic primer on the illness that will not overwhelm someone who is just starting on their journey of discovery. Mackey starts off by sharing the experiences that caused him to develop his PTSD, he explains the illness, and finishes up by discussing some treatments and coping techniques. Overall Mackey does an excellent job of introducing any newcomer to the realities of PTSD and some of the techniques that can be employed to cope with it.

In his introduction Mackey tells the story of how he came to have PTSD. He does an excellent job of relating the two incidents. He shares some very personal information without going overboard and making his reader uncomfortable. I appreciated understanding his circumstances as it helped me understand where he was coming from and lent validity to his work. He does offer a disclaimer stating that it is not necessary to read his story to understand the book and that the reader shouldn't read it if they feel it will upset them too much. An excellent offer in light of the fact that there are probably many readers with PTSD who may be triggered by his experiences.

Mackey uses the first two chapters to explain PTSD by defining it and some of the reasons PTSD occurs. His explanation is simple and easy to follow using bullet lists for simplicity and ease of explanation. He addresses the symptoms by breaking them down into categories and further explaining them and urges anyone who is suffering severe symptoms to call for help immediately.

He addresses the causes and risk factors. Again his simple and straightforward bullet lists make his explanation easy to follow and understand to the inexperienced first timer seeking information and help whether they suffer from PTSD themselves or have a loved one that they suspect does. He also delves into some of the traumatic events that can lead to PTSD with the important disclaimer that it is not an exhaustive list.

Mackey devotes the final three chapters of his book to explaining treatment methods, coping techniques and strategies for living with PTSD. He makes an excellent contribution in discussing the need for consistent treatment and regular application of coping strategies. He touches on both therapeutic and medication based treatments touching on how both help the person dealing with PTSD to recover and return to living.

The coping techniques and strategies he offers are equally valuable, discussing the realities not only for the person who has PTSD but for those who have loved one living with it because the reality that no one has PTSD in a vacuum. Family and friends are always part of the equation. There is only one statement he makes in his book that I would disagree with. He says “living with PTSD can be a daily struggle,” going on to say later that as family we can help “sufferers cope and live happy productive lives.” His wording would lead the reader to believe that there is no healing, an idea I disagree with heartily. Will we be the same? Of course not! But I do believe that there is always room for healing.

Overall Mackey's book surprised me with his honest and upfront story of his own PTSD, it's simple and easy to read format of bulleted lists, and his excellent explanation of the strategies that can be used to treat and hopefully heal PTSD for those who suffer from it. I'd highly recommend PTSD: Overcome thePain, Start Living Again for anyone who is new to the realm of PTSD. It makes an excellent primer that will prepare you for the more in-depth works out there preparing you for the clinical and technical jargon so many books are full of.

John Mackey's book is a Kindle exclusive. Any links I offer to here are Amazon affiliate links that will earn me a small commission for the work I put into this review, it will not change the price you pay. This review is also available on Amazon.

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