PTSD Awareness Month. June, 2018

Well, June 2018 is here and we look to recognize and promote PTSD awareness. I prayerfully wish PTSD was recognized every month of the year instead of just June being used as its symbolic month. That said, I'll take what is available! 

I bring you awareness and recognition by way of CRUSHING common myths/stereotypes. Follow my lead. Good stuff to share with you!

Myth One: PTSD sufferers are 'victims.'

Reality: WRONG! PTSD sufferers are not victims. PTSD sufferers are survivors. We've smelled, heard, tasted, felt, breathed, seen, woke and slept with the unimaginable happenings of the human condition. War. Rapes. Abuses of all kind. Accidents. Disasters. Losses, etc. Many of the aforementioned happened repeatedly over the course of an individual(s) lifetime. The complexities run deep.

That said, victims we are not. The victim mentality serves one purpose...to hold us back and prohibit healing. It does not foster mental/emotional growth. Victim mentality paralyzes and isolates. It can kill. It is an excuse and a cop out. Believing we are victims perpetuates a disconnect from the reality of the world we live in. If you/society sees me as a victim...I must be a victim. If I am a victim, I will live in self-pity and blame others for my horror/terror filled experiences. If I hear I am a victim often enough, I will believe it to be true. Who calls me a victim? Family. Friends. Husbands. Wives. Children. Clergy. The news media. Doctors. The VA mental healthcare system. Primary care physicians. Another important reason why I may subscribe to the victim mentality? My ego strength took numerous hits due to my experienced trauma. It is severely damaged. Therefore, it becomes easier to latch on to the external than deal with the internal. Anything to keep me away from dealing with myself. Also, living life as a victim prolongs the inevitable. That being, healing and living life free from the bondage of SELF or death. No gray area. 

You may ask yourself why the word 'victim' is used to identify those of us who experienced the most terrifying aberrations of the human condition. It is quire simple. Fear and apathy. Sometimes fear and apathy are thrown together. Sometimes they stand on their own. One can also factor in willful and deliberate ignorance. We are not lacking in the ability to learn in today's technologically advanced world. The ability to research PTSD is literally at our fingertips. Sadly, many simply do not care. If PTSD does not touch their lives, they do not wish to know anything about it. The alarming fact...PTSD touches the lives of every single person in our country in some way, shape, or form. 

In moving forward, if you hear someone refer to us as victims, you are charged with the responsibility of respectfully correcting them. We are strong and highly capable survivors. 

 Myth Two: PTSD is a mental illness.

Reality: WRONG! PTSD is a bona fide and psychiatrically recognized psychological injury. Trauma effects the entirety of our Limbic System. I invite you to read the blog I wrote titled: 'PTSD and the Limbic System.' Psychosis and aggression toward others are not hallmark PTSD symptoms.

Myth Three: People with PTSD are violent/aggressive towards others.

Reality: WRONG! The vast majority of untreated PTSD sufferers turn their unresolved issues inward. We take it out on our minds and bodies far more often than directing matters outwards. Suicide and alcoholism/drug addiction are far more common end results re: how we internalize our untreated PTSD compared to violently/aggressively taking it out on others. 

Myth Four: PTSD can be cured.

Reality: WRONG! There is no cure for PTSD. PTSD can be treated and we can heal. Many of us have long term/chronic issues with PTSD. That does not mean we can't heal. Many of us have to work on dealing with our PTSD every day...much like a recovering alcoholic/addict deals with their disease. We keep it in today and rely on healthier coping mechanisms developed over time and with the help of mental health/psychiatric professionals. Again, please reference the blog I wrote about PTSD and the Limbic System.

Myth Five: PTSD affects the person directly after the trauma event.

Reality: WRONG! PTSD symptoms typically arise within the first three months of the trauma event. That said, it can take years for the symptoms of PTSD to surface for many. Some experience symptoms continuously for years. Others experience symptoms that come and go. This is more common with child abuse sufferers. PTSD symptoms can ve very difficult to recognize in ourselves. Time passes and we do not associate our symptoms with untreated PTSD. We chalk it up to just feeling fucked up all of our lives or parts of our lives for reasons we simply can't put a finger on...just out of reach. Grasping. Confounding and torturous. 

Here are some untreated PTSD facts:

  • Well over 500,000 combat veterans walk among us with untreated Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. 
  • Well over 325,000 combat veterans with untreated PTSD also suffer from addictive illnesses.
  • We are losing 40 veterans every day to suicide. 
  • Between 50,000 and 65,000 new generation veterans sleep on our streets on any given night. 
  • The divorce rate among combat veterans with untreated PTSD is double the rate of civilians. 

 

Michael