Book Review: No Comfort Zone: Notes on Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder by Marla Handy


No Comfort Zone exposes a jagged slice of humanity that is all too present, but often shielded from our view. The author challenges us to see life as she does, so we can understand a bit of what it’s like to live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With insight and humor, she describes the fear and unpredictability of growing up in an unstable household, the terror of being raped as a young adult, and the confusion and shame of living with perceptions and reactions that are often so very different from others’. After years of treatment for depression, a diagnosis of PTSD came as a surprise. Isn’t this something that only happens to combat veterans? But it made sense. In writing this highly personal account, Marla Handy helps the rest of us understand what PTSD is and that it happens here at home, too.

What do you think of when you hear of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Most commonly people think of War Veterans, or even some people will think of first responders (firefighters, police officers). Sadly, it's not just those demographics who suffer from PTSD, it's every day people like you, myself and Marla Handy. Marla wrote "No Comfort Zone" to share what she lives with each and every day: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Marla is middle America: a caucasion, middle aged woman and has a PhD. She has done some amazing work world wide and has shown what an amazing person she is.

I actually "met" Marla a few years ago on a message board, which is unrelated to PTSD, but through some message board topics and seeing her responses you know she is a wonderful person but you wouldn't know the emotional ramifications she deals with each and every day from living through horrific child abuse, medical procedures and rape. She messaged me one day and asked me if I would be interested in reading and posting a review of her book and when she told me about it, I jumped on it.

Many of you know that in 2004, my daughter was severely injured by being shaken and slammed. She spent 2 months in the hospital, with one of those months being in the PICU. Her injury was the straw that broke the camel's back. About a year after her injury I broke down. Badly. I had been a victim of sexual and child abuse for many years, terrorized by people who were "close" to me, I had two babies pass away at birth, but Emma's injury, that was what it took for me to break all the way down. I was suicidal. I went to a recovery center and the psychiatrist said that I had classic PTSD symptoms. The flashbacks, the jumpiness, the depression, the fascination with dying, and so on and so forth. I was referred for outside counseling and medication. I stuck with it for a short time but insurance problems caused it to cease. I am on my way back! I promise!

That's why I said yes to reading and reviewing No Comfort Zone. This book isn't a clinical book about PTSD. This book isn't a self help guide. This book says "This is me. This is PTSD. This is PTSD and I together, and this is what I go through and understand me". When I read this I felt that "Yes" reaction. Yes, I am right there with you. I understand this! She brought up something that came right back home, she said we aren't allowed to be victims. No more victims of cancer, they are survivors. No more rape victims, but rape survivors. They aren't child abuse victims but they are survivors! Sure it's empowering, when that person gets to that point. Many times "survivor" is for the outsiders to not feel so depressed. I HATE when people say I am strong. I am not. If I was strong, I wouldn't feel the way I do inside. I wouldn't feel so broken half the time. I upset some "friends" of mine a few years ago when I said I hated it when people say I am strong. THEY were offended that I put down their view of me?! WHAT? What's wrong with this picture?
I felt a connection with this book because I understand.

As Marla told me, she wrote this book to help those living with PTSD and those who living, work, and are around those who have PTSD. As she told me, she isn't trying to promote herself as an author, but rather to make this book visible to those who can benefit from it. This book isn't pretty. Rape isn't pretty. Child abuse isn't pretty. Marla's life hasn't been pretty. It isn't supposed to be a pretty book with the girl gets the guy but this is real. Marla does a beautiful job of showing you reality and what it's like through her eyes.

Five stars.

I really think you all should read this. Or tell others about this book. It's worth the time.

disclaimer: The author provided this book at no charge for my fair and honest review.

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