Guest Blog

Coping With CPTSD Through Woodworking

12 Dec 2018 by Robert Johnson

CPTSD isn’t a condition that’s easy to understand nor live with. While there are a lot of ways immediately explored in order to help people cope with such a complex disorder, there isn’t a guarantee that they would work for everyone. After all, every person has a different way of coping, especially when important ways to manage symptoms of CPTSD include using healthy distraction and doing activities you enjoy.

Every person has a different way of coping with symptoms of CPTSD.

That’s exactly what helped Mierop Mannmanage his anxiety and other stress disorder symptoms, by doing things he was passionate about: woodworking and business.

A single man in his 50s, Mierop has specifically chosen to live alone, mainly because of his unpleasant childhood memories and continued family abuse up until he was 40. He left both his family and successful business when he cannot take the abuse anymore. “I was struggling with acceptance and trying to understand the viciousness of the familyand the alienation that went with it,” he recalled.

What did woodworking do for Mierop?

To cope with his condition, he went back to his former passion for furniture. Using the skills he has as a former successful businessman, he was able to get himself busy with the business opportunity. While doing so, he was also able to learn how to manage his CPTSD symptoms. “I had to be creative in the most simple and basic way, and that was to work with my hands and keep my mind trained to stay healthy.”

But what exactly did woodworking do for him? 

A year ago, Mierop remembers only being in emotional turmoil while living a life that did not excite him or make him happy. It stayed that way until he was given an opportunity to create something using his woodworking skills. “I needed to transform a broken piece of furniture and re-purpose it without costing an arm and a leg. It was an experiment and I did not know where it would take me or if it would make a statement at all,” he said, “It was scary yet exhilarating as something was happening in front of me.”

It was the beginning of Mierop’s own way of healing and coping, which he discovered can change something in him as he witnessed his own hands creating a new furniture. “It was the balance of passion and creativity starting to work deep from within. I felt alive, validated, and I had an urge to create moreof this painstaking therapeutic furniture challenges,” Mierop stated.

The balance of passion and creativity led to a positive feeling and brought him a sense of liberation.

That positive feeling is something he did not let go of, especially as it brought him a sense of liberation and a way to strengthen his passions. It might be just a couple of physical tasks or a hobby for some, but for someone suffering from CPTSD like Mierop, woodworking can be an elaborate process of healing, or from his very own words, “the savior to a very conflicted existence.”

Woodworking helped Mierop rediscover a part of himself.

Woodworking does something significant to Mierop that other therapy or activity can’t. He says, “It takes me on a journey, allowing opportunity to reflect on various trauma at different stages in my life. It's the story of my inner-child struggling with the abuse and trying to find light at the end of a very dark tunnel.”

Mierop continues his healing and coping journey, a huge part of which involve woodworking. Through woodworking, he was able to jumpstart his healing and rediscovered a part of himself that makes him excited about life. He now considers himself as an artist, yet one with woodworking tools. 

Mierop is just one among many others who have found comfort, productivity and healing in woodworking as they try to manage the symptoms of their CPTSD. Many others have found comfort, productivity and healing in woodworking as they try to manage the symptoms of their CPTSD. For more stories like Mr. Mann's, visit Sawinery.