A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Luggage Transfer Correos

Camino with PTSD

2020 Camino Guides

Gwaihir

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nijmegen to Finisterre, July-November 2019.
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.

I've been on the road for a while (threw months, 20 days), and a few of you have been following me, which I think is awesome and thank you very much for the support.

I had many reasons to do the Camino, one of them related to my medical background. I showed signs of PTSD age 16ish and it got progressively worse over the years. Got a complex trauma diagnosis a few years ago.

Things have been going much better and one of my goals has been to grow a thicker skin - learn to be among people, not feel so agressive (for the record, I am never agressive to fellow pelgrims or any people).

But it's been hard, specially since SJPDP because there is just so many pelgrims and I can't get some time to get my head togheter. Right now I'm trying to sleep in an albergue but I just can't due to snoring etc.

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD but I am very stubborn and I'm wondering what you have to say or whether you have any advice.

Cheers.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Will your budget allow you to stay occasionally in a private room, some nights as needed, for some solitude and sleep? I would think being well rested would help cope?

Try leaving a bit later than others so you don't run into so many on the trail, giving you a bit of quiet?

There have been others with PTSD who walked the camino. Perhaps some of them will chime in.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Northern Light's suggestions are good ones. But, even sparing that, go to the next farmacia. Ask for earplugs - in Spanish "Tapones de los oidos" (ta-pohn-ehs de los oye-dos) more or less phonetically.

Foam earplugs will help you sleep in an albergue. Remember to get a couple of pairs. Also, as you progress on the Camino Frances, the group of people you walk with now, WILL thin out.

For what it is worth, I had to retire from my profession some 12 years ago, due to the same diagnosis. I could no longer do my job, nor hold the über-high security clearance it required, due to medication. A combined diagnosis of an anxiety disorder went along with this.

Finding the Camino was like a door opening. It made a huge difference in my life. It can help heal you too. Be patient...

One other suggestion, as you walk along through villages, try the church door. If it is open, go inside. Make a visit. Spend 10 or 15 minutes in silent meditation or prayer, whatever floats your boat.

It does not matter if you are Catholic, Christian, Jew, or even a believer in any faith system. Just sit in respectful silence. Let the silence wash over you. I would not be surprised if you do not receive some "feedback." Silence is a huge benefit.

Also, when walking, speed up, slow down, or take a break to allow others to advance in front of you creating some separation so you can walk in a "bubble" of your own making. You do not necessarily want to shun all others.

If you develop a medical or other problem it will be nice to have others you know at least superficially to assist. On the Camino everyone watches out for one another.

You CAN do it. Stay focused...

I hope this helps.
 
Last edited:

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I have job related PTSD. Sure, sometimes a bunch of pilgrims all packed in an albergue gets on my nerves too, but it is just part of the package. I knew it before I ever did a Camino the first time. You just deal with it. It is nothing but a thing. If I wanted solitude I would pick a different journey to embark upon, or walk the Camino in the height of winter when there would be few pilgrims and lots of empty albergues.
 

Lurch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
looking at 2018-2019
I have PTSD to the point that the V.A. Gave me a service dog 7years ago. Yet, I managed to complete the Camino from Burgos last year. What you have to do is gut it out and power through the PTSD! I spent much of my life I. Risky situations, and if I can learn to handle it. Get psychological treatment, take your meds and make the best you can of each day and mile. The only one who can make your life better is YOU!
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
Northern Light's suggestions are good ones. But, even sparing that, go to the next farmacia. Ask for earplugs - in Spanish "Tampones de los oidos" (tam-pohn-ehs de los oye-dos) more or less phonetically.
Sorry to correct, but "tampones para los oidos" sounds funny.
The name is "tapones para los oidos."
 

Lindsay53

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances April / May 19
G'day Gwaihir. I can't really understand how you personally are feeling, but I do know that the simple act of walking alone on my Camino helped me deal with difficult issues, and all I can say is take it one day at a time. You have been on the road for over three months and that's a great achievement in itself. Being with others can be hard, but you have come so far already.

As others have said, earplugs are a must and will give you some peace from the background noise that is a fact of life in albergues. I found that most pilgrims will respect a desire for solitude and you may initiate as much or as little contact as you wish. If you find the mere presence of others a little overwhelming, even in the most crowded albergues there are opportunities to be alone. In my own situation I found contact for a few hours with others after a day of solo walking was helpful, but you may feel different and just sitting on a bench in a corner for a while, reading or listening to music before going to sleep may help.

Buen Camino peregrino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances and Invierno (2019)
Camino Frances (2021)
Have you thought about taking the alternative route once in a while? I don’t think there are so many pilgrims there 😊
Buen Camino 👣🎒
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Sorry to correct, but "tampones para los oidos" sounds funny.
The name is "tapones para los oidos."
It was the damn auto-correct again. Oh my VERY bad! Tampons would clearly NOT fit there, would they...? LOL

Thank you for the assist... I repaired my oopsie... ;)
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Camino Frances SJPP / 2014 Camino Portugues / 2015 Camino Ingles / 2015 Hospitalero Training
2016 (fall) Camino Sanabre / Hospitalero?
I have had PTSD for 50 years. The doctors say I’m doing well. Coping with the new, not being on constant alert, and worry are less now because my Caminos have put me in harms way but I knew I would secede. You will too, believe.
Earplugs, use a blanket or towel to shadow the light. Rejoice in this new threatening environment, you will win, know that. When you are surrounded by people, know they are friends. Ultreya!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.

I've been on the road for a while (threw months, 20 days), and a few of you have been following me, which I think is awesome and thank you very much for the support.

I had many reasons to do the Camino, one of them related to my medical background. I showed signs of PTSD age 16ish and it got progressively worse over the years. Got a complex trauma diagnosis a few years ago.

Things have been going much better and one of my goals has been to grow a thicker skin - learn to be among people, not feel so agressive (for the record, I am never agressive to fellow pelgrims or any people).

But it's been hard, specially since SJPDP because there is just so many pelgrims and I can't get some time to get my head togheter. Right now I'm trying to sleep in an albergue but I just can't due to snoring etc.

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD but I am very stubborn and I'm wondering what you have to say or whether you have any advice.

Cheers.
You are Truckin" my friend. I think you are doing great!! I fortunately do not have to deal with PTSD but just with life and my own self imposed destructive thoughts and behaviors. I too like mellower caminos. I will be walking the CF starting a week from today but I hope it will be alot mellower.
More importantly, I don't know where you are now but maybe you want to make a right and head up to the Norte or the Primitivo. Maybe less albergues in winter but much more solitude and the scenery is wonderful and in the evenings (I walked the Norte last year got to Santiago November 1) you may find yourself alone or with just a handful of Pilgrims. Met some wonderful folks even though there weren't alot of us. Buen Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.

I've been on the road for a while (threw months, 20 days), and a few of you have been following me, which I think is awesome and thank you very much for the support.

I had many reasons to do the Camino, one of them related to my medical background. I showed signs of PTSD age 16ish and it got progressively worse over the years. Got a complex trauma diagnosis a few years ago.

Things have been going much better and one of my goals has been to grow a thicker skin - learn to be among people, not feel so agressive (for the record, I am never agressive to fellow pelgrims or any people).

But it's been hard, specially since SJPDP because there is just so many pelgrims and I can't get some time to get my head togheter. Right now I'm trying to sleep in an albergue but I just can't due to snoring etc.

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD but I am very stubborn and I'm wondering what you have to say or whether you have any advice.

Cheers.
Greetings my friend. After twenty odd years as a police officer, I was diagnosed with PTSD. fifty years after I retired. Looking at the causes, I find the constant exposure to danger and "man's inhumanity to others" caused me to retreat into myself and ignore the affects of the trauma. I packed it all away for over fifty years until I was forced to face it. Over that time, it was difficult to deal with people. The loudness of some environments, together with viewing others for a possible threat first before accepting them as people was tiring and stressful. I walked my first Camino prior to my diagnosis and the start of my counselling.

I must confess that I came back from my first 400 K walk and thought: "I don't understand what all the hype around the Camino is". However, after a few weeks home, I started to notice that people, mostly, weren't that bad after all. I attribute this to the environment that I experienced on the Camino, both the people and the moments of serenity that had been missing from my life. I have been back to finish the walk to Santiago and then three shorter trips. Each time was easier and gave me a opportunity to "practice" seeing people as assistance to my healing.

I sat with my 96 year old father as he committed a slow suicide by refusing to eat because it was time for him to go. I found a friend of over thirty years in a chair after he had shot himself. Both of these within the past two years. I am not a catholic but on the Camino, I regularly go into churches, light a candle for each of them, and sit for a period of time, think about them and move on with a sense of peace.

I had dinner one evening with a man from Miami who was walking with his wife and daughter. He had gout and was moving with some difficulty. The day after our dinner chat, I encountered them again at a small stone church. He had dipped his hand in the holy water and, silently, came up to me and anointed my forehead as he had done with his family. I never saw him again and I likely never will. I will never forget how moving that moment was. If he reads this blog, I hope he would get in touch, but if not I would want him to know that he was part of my healing.

Gwaihir. please forgive the length of this post. PTSD. is pervasive and can take over our world but can be defeated in small stages. Please don't give up. Please don't stop walking and experiencing the Camino.
Please take the advice others have provided here. There is always the opportunity to wander off the path and seek some alone time whether it is in a church or under a tree. Reach for and accept what others have to offer in terms of companionship and compassion. The people that I have met on my Camino trips are gradually affecting how I see others. See everyday as an opportunity to be better. Be well my friend.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sep/Oct 2015
C Primitivo Sep / Oct 2016
Portugese Sep/Oct 2017
VdlP, Muxia 2018
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.

I've been on the road for a while (threw months, 20 days), and a few of you have been following me, which I think is awesome and thank you very much for the support.

I had many reasons to do the Camino, one of them related to my medical background. I showed signs of PTSD age 16ish and it got progressively worse over the years. Got a complex trauma diagnosis a few years ago.

Things have been going much better and one of my goals has been to grow a thicker skin - learn to be among people, not feel so agressive (for the record, I am never agressive to fellow pelgrims or any people).

But it's been hard, specially since SJPDP because there is just so many pelgrims and I can't get some time to get my head togheter. Right now I'm trying to sleep in an albergue but I just can't due to snoring etc.

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD but I am very stubborn and I'm wondering what you have to say or whether you have any advice.

Cheers.
I do not have PTSD (I think) but I met two people with the diagnosis on two different caminos - one US and one European. Can I suggest you consider doing one longer stage to get ahead of the crowd or do a short stage to let the larger crowd move ahead. One of the guys I met arrived in Santiago 2 days ahead of me and when I met him there he was so happy that he decided to move on. Also, it might be helpful if you meet someone whom you can confide in or who might recognise and appreciate your situation. We all need support along the way, I know I did. And somehow the support was there for me. Endure and I wish you Buen Camino. Looking forward to reading about your triumphant arrival in Santiago!
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Frances (2018}
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.

I've been on the road for a while (threw months, 20 days), and a few of you have been following me, which I think is awesome and thank you very much for the support.

I had many reasons to do the Camino, one of them related to my medical background. I showed signs of PTSD age 16ish and it got progressively worse over the years. Got a complex trauma diagnosis a few years ago.

Things have been going much better and one of my goals has been to grow a thicker skin - learn to be among people, not feel so agressive (for the record, I am never agressive to fellow pelgrims or any people).

But it's been hard, specially since SJPDP because there is just so many pelgrims and I can't get some time to get my head togheter. Right now I'm trying to sleep in an albergue but I just can't due to snoring etc.

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD but I am very stubborn and I'm wondering what you have to say or whether you have any advice.

Cheers.
I walked with a US army veteran who suffered with PTSD. It was a great benefit to him, particularly when he met me and had to slow down to my pace. I am snail like. He and his wife both thanked me for slowing him down. His strong religion (he was an anglican minister/army chaplain) was also a great help to him. Since returning to the US, he has organised a number of walking trails for other vets and they find it very beneficial. In fact, there is a project at the minute to take vets virtually walking on treadmills along with big screens and music. Because of my association with the chaplain, I have spoken to vets from Australia and Canada and they both agree that the camino is very beneficial. So maybe, the camino is not such a bad idea for you. Keep well and buen camino
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD but I am very stubborn and I'm wondering what you have to say or whether you have any advice.

Cheers.
I have been diagnosed with PTSD and walk almost every year.
The solitude and walking help a lot.
Snoring also bothers me - I wear SUPER earplugs or book private rooms when I can
While I used to be quite confrontational, I'm learning to walk away from people who annoy me, and just "not care" what others think.
Scents are triggers for me also, so I have to be careful where I stay.
Loud noises and people are triggers - but the Camino offers plenty of peace.
It's just a matter of seeking what I need in terms of peace, quiet, and calm spaces.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres
PTSD is multifaceted. In general the relaxed pace of the pilgrimage and the new people you meet are likely to be useful. Speculating if everyone with PTSD will benefit is bad medicine. I doubt anyone is worse off, though! As a Vietnam veteran, I predate PTSD! I have found the fun very relaxing.
 

Gwaihir

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nijmegen to Finisterre, July-November 2019.
Peregrinos,

Gracias / thank you so much for the input and some of your own personal stories. I've found sitting in a church just as freeing as sitting on the highest point of my camino at 1700m. I've had deeply religious moments and moments I just don't have a worry in the world.

Me and my earplugs are inseparable, unfortunately they don't always help because PTSD will make you jumpy and/or uptight - if any sounds seep through them, that's it. They keep light snoring out, but not the industrial-saw kind of snoring. So usually I try to find some spot elsewhere in the building (or the garden). The other pelgrims tend to be younger and not really understand, but that's fine by me and maybe they will understand later.

I think it might be a good idea to maybe walk ahead/behind a bit and sleep in albergues where fewer pelgrims are staying (because most stick to the etapas), or booking somewhere private. I speak fluent Spanish so I could ask people if I could camp on their property.

Tonight I'm sharing one room with just one other (young) pelerin who doesn't snore so I hope I'll get a good nights' sleep.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I have been thinking of all the PTSD and trauma survivors out there on the camino (and thinking about the camino) ... on my mind all evening.

You may or may not have heard this before, but there is some positive indication that learning a new language, or a new musical instrument, can assist the brain in reformating and processing trauma. It shouldn't do any harm to try, and may have positive results, as the worst outcome is you have a new skill ... or you make awful music and the neighbours hate it ;)

I know some humanitarian aid workers who had good results.

I wish peace of mind for all of you.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
When I walked, I had all the symptoms of PTSD, but I had not been formally diagnosed. I walked with two cousins whom I hadn’t seen in forty years; I don’t know if they ever figured it out but, for me, they acted as daily buffers against whatever I couldn’t deal with. My big mistake was allowing myself two or three times to be pressured by very well meaning fellow pilgrims and hospitaleros to join in on communal dinners and participate in (I didn’t/couldn’t) singing and drinking. I would have been happier if I had gone off somewhere on my own. No doubt there were those who would have been happier too! Oh well ...

To all those walking with PTSD, hang in there. 😊
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.
Well, hello -- and this is a hard and worthwhile subject.

I likely have some degree of undiagnosed PTSD, but mostly I've suffered from a degree of chronic depression since longer than I likely understand myself.

Whichever of these is the truth, in any case these things are hard to deal with.

Now, I've no idea if anything I might or will say can help you personally, but you deserve at least a serious attempt from me.

I had many reasons to do the Camino, one of them related to my medical background. I showed signs of PTSD age 16ish and it got progressively worse over the years. Got a complex trauma diagnosis a few years ago.
Sounds like good instincts -- in many ways, I can only really feel like truly me when I'm on the Camino, whether that's among the "crowds" of the Francès, or hiking lonely on some secondary Way that almost nobody walks upon.

But OTOH I have a fairly egregious personality, so that being totally alone or being alone among a friendly "crowd" or being "alone" with a good friend or friends are not fundamentally different situations for me.

No idea if that helps you at all, but it is quite possible to be both with and without the others around us simultaneously. It's actually a stark characteristic of many Pilgrims' deeper Caminos.

It does help if you can come across a Compañero/a along the Way who instinctively and deeply knows when to be silent towards you, and otherwise how and what to speak to you, about any sort of transient XYZ, with sensitivity and deep friendship and utter respect. But such fellow pilgrims are rare as such, unless they are put in the Way before you, for each other.

Things have been going much better and one of my goals has been to grow a thicker skin - learn to be among people, not feel so agressive (for the record, I am never agressive to fellow pelgrims or any people).
hmmmmm, are you sure you're not being overly aggressive towards yourself instead ?

I have no idea how similar or dissimilar your own problems are to my own, but one thing that the Camino has certainly taught me is to have a thinner skin, not a thicker.

There's little point trying to be a control freak over the uncontrollable.

Yes, there are a few people on this Pilgrim Way who are perhaps a little less than ideal, but truth be told nearly everyone who is on the Way is in one Way or another deep or shallow seeking the same healing as you and I are.

Remember that you can help others, and that if you open your heart then you will do so, no matter what pain you may be feeling, including certain pain that perhaps will never go away.

And as always -- my advice is, when the pain gets too much, whether it be in the body or the mind, just : Stop -- and grab a day's rest or more, as you may need.

We are Pilgrims ; not walking machines.

But it's been hard, specially since SJPDP because there is just so many pelgrims and I can't get some time to get my head togheter. Right now I'm trying to sleep in an albergue but I just can't due to snoring etc.
The absolute hands-down worst snorer I have ever met was my father -- every single snorer that I have ever come across on the Camino has been an utter amateur compared to my dear old dad, who could not only fill an entire country house with the noise, but was impossible to wake up no matter how hard you tried to shove him (and believe me, we tried) so that your only hope was to learn how to deal with it.

That is my advice to you on this question -- bearing in mind that it's perfectly possible that you are a snorer yourself, unbeknownst.

I've found that learning how to breathe in the same rhythm as the snoring changes it from disturbance to gentle lullaby.

eh, try to not let it stress you maybe ?

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD
I think that it is an excellent motivation for a Camino.
 

Gwaihir

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nijmegen to Finisterre, July-November 2019.
Thank you all so much.

I haven't found anybody yet that I see as a close friend or in whom I would confide. I met two great pelgrims 1.5 month ago, but I went my own way and so did they, and for me a re-encounter means I have to learn to trust them again.

I did end up sleeping okay when splitting a room with the peregrina, but it was not enough and the nervous tension has only increased, plus I got sick so I'm dealing with fever + ptsd on the road. Shiiit. And I feel like quitting tbh.

I had a good way to block the sound (wax earplugs + bluetooth sports headphone) unfortunately I lost the headphones and then I thought "well, this is an opportunity to learn how to live without them". Hmm, it's not working out so well.

Then there's also the thing that Spain is my second home: I was raised here and I survived trauma here, and I think
maybe I needed to walk back here to make peace with the past. But maybe I am not really walking "The Camino" in physical terms but only walking my own Camino in metaphysical terms.

When I crossed the Pyrenees I sort of felt like my journey was "done". To be honest I don't feel a need to go to Santiago now, but that was my original plan so I don't know what else to do atm.

Northern Light and the others, thank you for thinking about trauma survivors.

PS. Today us pelgrims passed the famous iron statue on the hill after Pamplona! Next to the windmills. Wear a raincoat if you're on your way here...
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
It is very common on the camino, for our hearts and brains to question wtf we are doing there. They try to trick us into quitting, with thoughts of the comforts of home, the luxury of our own clean sheets and endless hot water, etc etc. The camino is hard. Banish those thoughts with a new goal of reaching beyond Santiago to Muxia and 'the sundering sea.'

Btw, I think you totally have this. You are self-aware and capable of organizing your coping strategies. You could consider the final weeks of the Frances as your chance to practice your patience and tolerance skills on strangers. A few less than perfect interactions are just learning opportunities.

Bon courage!
 

Gwaihir

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nijmegen to Finisterre, July-November 2019.
Thanks :) I'm under the weather still (fever) so that doesn't add anything good to my sentiment.

I think I will just see the rest of my camino as a leisurely stroll through Spain and not so much as this established thing.

But first, some more sleep, food and water!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Thanks :) I'm under the weather still (fever) so that doesn't add anything good to my sentiment.

I think I will just see the rest of my camino as a leisurely stroll through Spain and not so much as this established thing.

But first, some more sleep, food and water!
I was a bit preoccupied yesterday, so am just catching up now. The piece you did yesterday is one I love. I think it is because the first time I did it, there were 'friends' (yes, they are still friends!) who said I would never be able for it. I just love that slope up, and the way down is slow, but nothing to be upset about. I am sorry first of all that you carry your burden, glad you are able to name it, and hopeful that you will learn to stand on it, and stamp it out of your system. I do not know if it can be done, but I imagine that if there is a will, there is a way. All of this is just to say: I see you, I hear you, I hope that your camino will be one that brings you to the place where you know you have arrived. Till the next time!
 

Gwaihir

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nijmegen to Finisterre, July-November 2019.
I've been thinking about this long and hard, and I think I'm going "back" to San Sebastián (I haven't been there yet but it's opposite to this trail!) and continuing on the Camino del Norte.

Yes, I had planned Del Norte to begin with, but I got scared because many people told me it would be so difficult, rain and more rain, and for a "first-timer" the Francés would be easier.

I thought I wanted something "easy", and maybe it's good that I gave it a chance at least. But PTSD-wise Del Norte is probably better and my chances of sleeping higher.

Besides, after the chemins I've walked, the weather I endured, and the altitudes climbed, I'm hardly a first-timer. And I have a good poncho now.
 

Lurch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
looking at 2018-2019
Greetings my friend. After twenty odd years as a police officer, I was diagnosed with PTSD. fifty years after I retired. Looking at the causes, I find the constant exposure to danger and "man's inhumanity to others" caused me to retreat into myself and ignore the affects of the trauma. I packed it all away for over fifty years until I was forced to face it. Over that time, it was difficult to deal with people. The loudness of some environments, together with viewing others for a possible threat first before accepting them as people was tiring and stressful. I walked my first Camino prior to my diagnosis and the start of my counselling.

I must confess that I came back from my first 400 K walk and thought: "I don't understand what all the hype around the Camino is". However, after a few weeks home, I started to notice that people, mostly, weren't that bad after all. I attribute this to the environment that I experienced on the Camino, both the people and the moments of serenity that had been missing from my life. I have been back to finish the walk to Santiago and then three shorter trips. Each time was easier and gave me a opportunity to "practice" seeing people as assistance to my healing.

I sat with my 96 year old father as he committed a slow suicide by refusing to eat because it was time for him to go. I found a friend of over thirty years in a chair after he had shot himself. Both of these within the past two years. I am not a catholic but on the Camino, I regularly go into churches, light a candle for each of them, and sit for a period of time, think about them and move on with a sense of peace.

I had dinner one evening with a man from Miami who was walking with his wife and daughter. He had gout and was moving with some difficulty. The day after our dinner chat, I encountered them again at a small stone church. He had dipped his hand in the holy water and, silently, came up to me and anointed my forehead as he had done with his family. I never saw him again and I likely never will. I will never forget how moving that moment was. If he reads this blog, I hope he would get in touch, but if not I would want him to know that he was part of my healing.

Gwaihir. please forgive the length of this post. PTSD. is pervasive and can take over our world but can be defeated in small stages. Please don't give up. Please don't stop walking and experiencing the Camino.
Please take the advice others have provided here. There is always the opportunity to wander off the path and seek some alone time whether it is in a church or under a tree. Reach for and accept what others have to offer in terms of companionship and compassion. The people that I have met on my Camino trips are gradually affecting how I see others. See everyday as an opportunity to be better. Be well my friend.
Greetings my brothers in blue! 23 years n L.A....my moment came in 2 parts. First at the church in Hontonas. All of received a small cross with our pilgrim’s Blessing and I could feel the concerns and tension slough off. Then weeks later in Tricastela, there was a Korean priest blessing his flock traveling the Camino. I asked him for a Blessing (he spoke English). He did so and his little congregation gathered around me and patted me on the back.

Can’t describe the feeling but for the first time in many a year I felt at peace with myself. The feeling followed me thru to Santiago and beyond. Still there a year later, hard to believe...Lurch
 

Fall2019

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past - Francés, 2017
Future - ?, 2019
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.

I've been on the road for a while (threw months, 20 days), and a few of you have been following me, which I think is awesome and thank you very much for the support.

I had many reasons to do the Camino, one of them related to my medical background. I showed signs of PTSD age 16ish and it got progressively worse over the years. Got a complex trauma diagnosis a few years ago.

Things have been going much better and one of my goals has been to grow a thicker skin - learn to be among people, not feel so agressive (for the record, I am never agressive to fellow pelgrims or any people).

But it's been hard, specially since SJPDP because there is just so many pelgrims and I can't get some time to get my head togheter. Right now I'm trying to sleep in an albergue but I just can't due to snoring etc.

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD but I am very stubborn and I'm wondering what you have to say or whether you have any advice.

Cheers.
If you feel panic, annoyance or aggression rising, try picking a big category and naming all the things you can think of (colors, flowers, countries, dog breeds, whatever). It helps calm me down - my favorite is trying to name all the cheeses I can think of. Good luck!
 

Jim Stinson

ibrew4u
Camino(s) past & future
5/2015 CF
4/2017 CF
5/2019 CF fr Astorga
I walked with a US army veteran who suffered with PTSD. It was a great benefit to him, particularly when he met me and had to slow down to my pace. I am snail like. He and his wife both thanked me for slowing him down. His strong religion (he was an anglican minister/army chaplain) was also a great help to him. Since returning to the US, he has organised a number of walking trails for other vets and they find it very beneficial. In fact, there is a project at the minute to take vets virtually walking on treadmills along with big screens and music. Because of my association with the chaplain, I have spoken to vets from Australia and Canada and they both agree that the camino is very beneficial. So maybe, the camino is not such a bad idea for you. Keep well and buen camino
I recently returned from walking with Father Steve's organization Warriorsontheway.org. The seven veterans in the 2019 group reported a 71% reduction in symptions.
Stick it out, and let the Camino work in you. It doesn't smack you in the face on day one. You may not notice anything in yourself at all, but others will see a transformation in you.
Have faith, brother. Semper Fi, and Buen Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
SF 2014
Fin\Mux 14 & 18
Portuguese 2017
Aragones 2018
Plan primitivo 2020
change how you view snoring. mostly it is rythmic. i hate snoring but have been acused of same. horror😭 ive always had ear plugs used twice in 100 roughly nights albergue. you sync your breathing to the snoring becomes almost relsxing zen 😀
 

Finisterre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria 2001,
Porto 2006,
Valenca 2008,
Finisterre 2010,
SJdPP 2012,
Tui 2014.

No plans to return, yet.
Gwaihir -
I suspect you may not feel this but actually you are quite inspiring.
And the Del Norte?
Fantastic, if you have such choices you are in a good place.
Stick with it mate.
 

Aysen Mustafa

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I plan on walking the Camino April 2018.
I found the foam ear plugs didn't help. Get some silicone ones. Only a couple of euros, and you might be able to make new friends as I gave some to another pilgrim who also didn't find the foam ones working.
change how you view snoring. mostly it is rythmic. i hate snoring but have been acused of same. horror😭 ive always had ear plugs used twice in 100 roughly nights albergue. you sync your breathing to the snoring becomes almost relsxing zen 😀
sorry, that might work for you but I doubt it will work for most people.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
My big mistake was allowing myself two or three times to be pressured by very well meaning fellow pilgrims and hospitaleros to join in on communal dinners and participate in (I didn’t/couldn’t) singing and drinking.
Or asking each pilgrim to stand up and talk about why they're on the Camino. terribly intrusive for some of us. Which is why I avoid the albergues where these practices are well known. Only got caught once, so far.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
Another thing to think about -- the weather has been pretty damn rotten recently, I find that has a huge effect on my mood. Don't know if you're in the same boat, but staying off the road for a day or two if the weather is really bad might help.
 

ClaudiaHillhouse

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2011, May 2018
I feel for you, PTSD is indescribably awful.
Take each day as it comes.
Don't compare yourself to others and don't listen to the folks who tell you to toughen up.
Your Camino is your own. However you walk it, wherever you sleep and as far as you go, that is yours and yours alone.
What are things that have helped in the past? Music, EMDR music, Meditation, Writing, Deep breathing?
What are your needs?
Sleep and recovery time, Space to yourself that feels safe, etc?
You are allowed to take mental health days on your pilgrimage, so find a town you like with a private room and just give yourself a break.
May your walk bring you some peace.
 

APilgrim3393

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(17-18-19) Norte (2018) Aragones (19’) de la Plata to Mérida (18’) Primitivo some (19’)
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.

I've been on the road for a while (threw months, 20 days), and a few of you have been following me, which I think is awesome and thank you very much for the support.

I had many reasons to do the Camino, one of them related to my medical background. I showed signs of PTSD age 16ish and it got progressively worse over the years. Got a complex trauma diagnosis a few years ago.

Things have been going much better and one of my goals has been to grow a thicker skin - learn to be among people, not feel so agressive (for the record, I am never agressive to fellow pelgrims or any people).

But it's been hard, specially since SJPDP because there is just so many pelgrims and I can't get some time to get my head togheter. Right now I'm trying to sleep in an albergue but I just can't due to snoring etc.

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD but I am very stubborn and I'm wondering what you have to say or whether you have any advice.

Cheers.
Hi
Heya guys and girls, peregrin@s.

I've been on the road for a while (threw months, 20 days), and a few of you have been following me, which I think is awesome and thank you very much for the support.

I had many reasons to do the Camino, one of them related to my medical background. I showed signs of PTSD age 16ish and it got progressively worse over the years. Got a complex trauma diagnosis a few years ago.

Things have been going much better and one of my goals has been to grow a thicker skin - learn to be among people, not feel so agressive (for the record, I am never agressive to fellow pelgrims or any people).

But it's been hard, specially since SJPDP because there is just so many pelgrims and I can't get some time to get my head togheter. Right now I'm trying to sleep in an albergue but I just can't due to snoring etc.

I know that it is just not a good idea to do a Camino with PTSD but I am very stubborn and I'm wondering what you have to say or whether you have any advice.

Cheers.
Gwaihir, I am a pilgrim for similar reasons. It may not be for you, but I want to share my experience, in case, you are thinking of trying it more. Please give me an update and I hope you find some peace in some way- on a “way” or off a “way”. There are many caminos to choose from and some may be for you. If you feel a will to try the Camino Frances more. I find that walking in winter is the best if you can handle cold and walking in snow and sleet like conditions. I stayed in many albergues alone. The few albergues that had people did not bother me because I usually took my sleeping and slept in the kitchen or any space away. U just wait until “lights out” and find that space. I have used a blow up thin mattress which makes any floor comfortable. I recommend that you tell the hospitalero of your intent to sleep on a floor alone. They are usually extremely helpful and understanding. (I am one of them too) If you prefer extreme heat over cold and wet, you might choose to do la via de la plata from Sevilla in summer. It is a major Camino with infrastructure that will take addition worry away. It is a different atmosphere altogether with what I found to be a different mentality- one that may fit a ptsd pilgrim better. I walked some and was a hospitalero in the summer. The albergue count averaged about 4 pilgrims. The first night I had 0 pilgrims. The ones I had were much more solitary types with a gentle spirit- and less vocal. All in all, I have found the Camino a great experience for me. I started it in July of 2017 not knowing anything, I bought my backpack in a train station in Madrid (chamartin). I went to Spain to travel not to walk and an old man recommended I walk a Camino. I knew about zero regarding backpack long-distance hiking and caminos. I am glad that I listened. In 3 years, I have seen my pulse rate go from a steay high 90s-110 to below 60. I’ve come to accept my condition more and accept that I may never sleep normally again, but I sleep much better now than before I started this. I have much less need for medications. I even somehow was able to enjoy the presence of a beautiful person for awhile, after some two years of a solitary existence (that idea I had come to believe was not possible). I have been able to function again and contribute in my small to society. Life is better now. I am grateful to the locals of the Camino, the other pilgrims, and the Camino itself.
 

Gwaihir

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nijmegen to Finisterre, July-November 2019.
@APilgrim3393 thank you for your thoughtful response!

My Camino has officially drawn to a close, so I can't use your suggestions right at this moment. But who knows if I ever do another trail (not sure about Camino) they might come in handy.

I ended up switching from the Francés and continuing North to Oviedo. It was a bit more quiet but it depended on the day. Like you I tended to seek out other spaces outside the dorms, although I got sick one night because the floor was way too cold - even with inflatable matress.

Me and a compañera ended up on the Invierno, which was really really quiet so I can recommend it to people who want or need solitude. However we weren't on it for long (both me and her felt our Caminos were over).

Good to hear the Camino helped you relax more. I think I learned to manage the PTSD a bit better, although I still have bad days.
 

Gwaihir

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nijmegen to Finisterre, July-November 2019.
Music definitely helps, I used to carry some headphones but I lost them on the Way, and then I thought "ah well, I will just manage the situation as it comes". It's a big risk and an invitation for anxiety, but I managed to sleep quite a few nights even though there were plenty of people around, which never happened the last 10 years. Success! I'm also no longer afraid of sleeping on people's couch.

The thing is that you beat yourself up and think "I have to be able to sleep even with snorers" but those are just unrealistic expectations. I do carry wax earplugs and even gave two away to people who were sleeping with these crappy foam ones.

@the weather yeah definitely it brings you down, and traveling with a tight budget also does because you can't relax. To any people on the Camino with this background, it helps to have some extra saved for comfort. I did not take this into account when I left but mentally you need luxury from time to time.
 

APilgrim3393

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(17-18-19) Norte (2018) Aragones (19’) de la Plata to Mérida (18’) Primitivo some (19’)
@APilgrim3393 thank you for your thoughtful response!

My Camino has officially drawn to a close, so I can't use your suggestions right at this moment. But who knows if I ever do another trail (not sure about Camino) they might come in handy.

I ended up switching from the Francés and continuing North to Oviedo. It was a bit more quiet but it depended on the day. Like you I tended to seek out other spaces outside the dorms, although I got sick one night because the floor was way too cold - even with inflatable matress.

Me and a compañera ended up on the Invierno, which was really really quiet so I can recommend it to people who want or need solitude. However we weren't on it for long (both me and her felt our Caminos were over).

Good to hear the Camino helped you relax more. I think I learned to manage the PTSD a bit better, although I still have bad days.
This condition that we seem to have in common is more of a marathon and reading your response I believe you are doing a damn good job at dealing with it- probably much better than you know. Sometimes I must accept that existing is good enough and other times I see that it gets lighter with time and existing is turning into much more. The Camino puts me in touch with the cycle of life and the present moment. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to walk, to be able to walk, to be able to eat, and to breathe. But it’s not a road that I would wish on anyone. PTSD is misunderstood and silently judged harshly by many of those who don’t understand it. I struggle still to accept the things I cannot change and to have the courage to do something while existing in this but you and I made a move to do something and that is something to celebrate. I congratulate you on your camino(s). It is easy for me to get hard on myself like I should be doing better. But slowly I have learned to ignore other’s expectations even my own, and to accept my condition. I believe by deciding to do a Camino and doing it, was a big deal when you feel like the photo I have attached from a Spanish city. It’s also good to hear that you have a compañera that at least understands enough that makes it comfortable enough for you. I also found something in your comment that may have helped me on how I will walk my last two weeks before I leave. I happen to be near Ponferrada. Ándale Keep on- a fellow pilgrim who knows joy now more than ever. Service and exercise is my best way.
 

Attachments

Book your lodging here

Get e-mail updates from Casa Ivar (Forum + Forum Store content)


Advertisement

Booking.com

Latest posts

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 15 1.3%
  • February

    Votes: 9 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 48 4.1%
  • April

    Votes: 174 15.0%
  • May

    Votes: 282 24.3%
  • June

    Votes: 85 7.3%
  • July

    Votes: 23 2.0%
  • August

    Votes: 26 2.2%
  • September

    Votes: 331 28.5%
  • October

    Votes: 145 12.5%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.5%
  • December

    Votes: 6 0.5%
Top