invisible stormWith raw emotion, painful honesty, and a deep desire to help others, Juanima Hiatt has written her story of struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in The Invisible Storm.

Likely we have all heard the acronym PTSD, and most often it has been with the stories of returning members of the military service branches who have been deployed to Iraq, Pakistan orAfghanistan in recent years.

Juanima’s story is not so different from those returning from war with PTSD, except that Juanima has never served in the military.  Her symptoms may be the same, her battle for recovery similar, and her frustration with the health care available to her often equal.  But Juanima is the mother of two young daughters and is married to the love of her life at the time of her diagnosis.  Why would she have PTSD?

Consider the word “traumatic” in the full description of the disorder.  Juanima was the victim of excessive trauma as a child and adolescent and even into young adult life.  Successful at finally reaching that place where she could push down everything that hurt her into a dark vacuous hole, Juanima managed to make her way through life, becoming a happily married woman and mother, until one fateful day.

On reading the first chapter of The Invisible Storm, I was shaken to my core.  Here Juanima details the birth of her second daughter, an experience unlike any other I had ever heard described.  The level of her pain is immense, the empathy of her care providers is lacking, with one admitting to making a mistake in administering the epidural block she requested.  What happens next is unthinkable, almost an out-of-body experience for Juanima.  This quote best describes Juanima’s feelings during this horrific time:

“It was a mirror image of the past. Helplessness… hopelessness… pain… shame… unheard cries of desperation, and it awakened a dark, horrifying life of long ago that I could no longer deny.”

The birth of this second child and its intrinsic trauma triggers the onset of PTSD and Juanima’s long hidden and protected history of abuse and scars begins to boil up to taunt her.  That she survives this ordeal is testament to her faith, her incredible strength and her determination to regain her life as she once lived it.

Juanima’s courage and bravery in sharing this most difficult story is, in her own words, a part of her healing process.  Hers has not been an easy road to travel, but supported by her loving husband and faithful friends Juanima has made great progress toward living a life she can be proud to share with her daughters and others.

Juanima’s story is graphic in places and heartbreaking in too many places.  Yet it is a book to be read by anyone who lives with or knows someone struggling with PTSD.  Juanima takes you inside . . . inside the victim’s mind, inside the healthcare system, inside therapy sessions.  Her story can help you help someone else.