Louise's Reviews > No Comfort Zone: Notes on Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

No Comfort Zone by Marla Handy
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Jan 28, 12

Read in January, 2012

This remarkable book, by a woman who has lived with chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for much of her life owing to child sexual and other abuse, and a life-threatening stranger rape in her twenties, is not a self-help guide. Instructive guides, excellent in their place, are of course advantageous to many people struggling with PTSD. However, there is definitely also a place for works like Marla Handy's. I have had PTSD since childhood (diagnosed at 27) and am now in my forties. I have read all the best recovery guides, and benefited from them and therapy. Yet, it seems to me that a major task in this decade of my life is to accept that there are parts of me that may always be quite fragile, in Marla's words, "messy", or maybe even beyond repair. No Comfort Zone is the best read I've found yet to promote what I think is a healthy acceptance, and trust me, I've invested a lot of time and energy looking. Interestingly, Marla resists recovery truisms such as "survivor" and "moving forward." Most refreshing to rethink the values and pressures that can underpin these terms.

This book, conversational in tone, details Marla's ongoing journey with PTSD, and is like sitting down and sharing with somebody who truly understands. I had many tears - good, cathartic ones - as Marla's words articulated even not-so-well known and better-hidden ravages of PTSD. She holds an honest and compassionate, if naturally somewhat frightening mirror up, and while nobody likes to know somebody else has felt this way, the commonality one finds is ultimately a comfort because it's so much less isolating. Marla shows you that you're not alone. Even if you're conversant with PTSD, her honesty brings to light symptoms that you may have thought were just weird, or worse, negative personality traits. There will be an "Oh my God! Me too! Thank heavens somebody understands!" moment or several for most sufferers of PTSD here.

Marla's reflections on the suicidal ideation that is a part of PTSD carried a blunt honesty that resists preachments. The chapter No Tomorrow blew me away; I don't think I've ever felt so personally understood. The non-instructive tone this book takes gives us permission to live with PTSD the best way we can, and admit that it hurts sometimes. Marla's matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone makes it all so much less embarrassing.

Beautifully written with candour, pain and wit, and not a boring sentence.

Now, the fact that this book is not instructive does not mean it isn't educational. Highly recommended for people who need to understand what PTSD looks like, and sufferers who could benefit from greater understanding and acceptance of themselves.

Thanks, Marla.
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Leanne Thanks Lou xx


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