June is PTSD month, so I think it’s appropriate to discuss it now. Hold on tight.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is caused by traumatic events. It can be combat-related or domestic, such as residual issues relating to spousal abuse. It is far from uncommon and frequently underreported for a variety of reasons. It is estimated that tens of of millions suffer from the condition, which includes yours truly. The condition is best known for its relationship to combat stressors, but women have been diagnosed with it at a ratio of 2:1.
PTSD can develop with something seen or experienced and "triggered" in the same way, but not necessarily and not always. It is beyond your control, even of the most disciplined.
As someone that suffers from PTSD, I will list four things to keep in mind:
- Reliving an event such as in a movie or hearing a phrase can cause flashbacks and possibly nightmares.
- We like to avoid situations that can bring back these memories – at least until we are ready to deal with them.
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or lost interest in favorite activities are not uncommon. Also common is a newfound distrust of people (including loved ones), being afraid when you normally shouldn't, or numb when you should feel emotions.
- Other characteristics include feeling hyped up, jittery, or being hyper alert, especially in public or in unfamiliar surroundings.
Those with PTSD will sometimes go without treatment. This is most common with those with military experience. They "suffer in silence," as alphas are taught to do, or simply to avoid the stigma of mental illness that can go with PTSD. I will tell you straight out that this is foolish and destructive to not have a "battle buddy" to share the similar experiences. It is healthy to seek help and there is "no shame in that game." I will never give in to shame for sending the Reaper packing, so you just send him on his way without you.
There are many treatments out there for PTSD, so I encourage anyone suffering to use them. Resources include online communities and veterans services. Some of these treatments focus on yoga, meditation, group therapy, aquatic therapy, horseback riding, creative arts, or medication when appropriate. I am also a strong believer in the effectiveness of therapy dogs (PTSD dogs) for extreme cases. These dogs are marvelous.
What not to do is treat yourself with alcohol. This is when depression hits and the Reaper comes on strong. Like most, I use alcohol to help me relax or smooth out the edges on occasion, but I use extreme discretion. But it does not take long for alcohol to control you. I am not a fan of long-term medication therapy, either. Short-term is okay, but I feel it’s bested used to help someone grab the beast by the throat. Over time, on the other hand, the meds can grab you through dependence and tolerance, as your system becomes immune and needs heavier doses. This, too, is treatable and beatable, but you pay the cost to be the boss. Never forget that. Of course, some treatments will not work with you.
Don't ever become discouraged with the treatments. Be patient; it's worth the wait. Life is always worth the wait, so you’d better start living again.