PTSD - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness
Since 2010, Congress named June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day and in 2014, the Senate designated the whole month of June as National PTSD Awareness Month. (www.ptsd.vs.gov)
When most people hear PTSD they are quick to associated the disorder with military service. Although, this is very common that people who have served and fought in war may experience some side effects it can be experienced in ANYONE who has faced a traumatic experience. Be careful not to assume that everyone has it because that may not be the case. Also, there are two types; chronic (ongoing) and acute (short term).
Signs can appear as early as 3 months after the traumatic event and even up to years later! According to the National Institute of Mental Health states that symptoms must last more than a month and be severe enough to interfere with relationships or work to be considered PTSD. The course of the illness varies. Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer.
A doctor who has experience helping people with mental illnesses, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can diagnose PTSD.
In March 2018, I was officially diagnosed with PTSD. Subconsciously, I knew I did. I didn't want to face the reality that my past was still haunting me. I remember my doctor telling me it... just as calm as could be and I think that's how we need to hear things. We were discussing my health issues and medications and despite his utter shock that my previous doctor was trying to kill me - he felt sympathy. He wanted to know what happened to me. He wanted to understand why a 27-year old woman, moderately healthy was on 6 different medications that could potentially kill her. (If taken at once.) I gave him the short version of my story and all he could say was "I'm sorry...as doctor's sometimes we like to throw medication at the problem and we don't take time to deal with our patients." That experience changed me. I felt like I needed to start handling my ish and not just dealing.
I have learned that if you don't deal with your problems and choose to bury them then you'll deal with them forever! It only goes away temporarily. You learn to hide your feelings and you really begin to believe that you're okay. Trust me, I thought I was fine until a recent breakdown that shattered my complete existence.
Growing up there were some things you just swept under the rug. There was no need to talk about everything. I believe that's a REAL problem especially in the African American community. However, that's a topic for another day. The most important thing that we know and understand is how to learn the signs. Pay attention to the people you love. You never know who is going through.
Not to mention...Kate Spade committed suicide this month! I wonder how many people saw it coming...
(Information provided by the National Institute for Mental Health)
To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom
- At least one avoidance symptom
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms
Re-experiencing symptoms include:
- Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
- Bad dreams
- Frightening thoughts
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. The symptoms can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing symptoms.
Avoid familiar places but when you're ready its okay to return once you feel that you're safe. I believe it's okay to revisit once you're healed and ONLY then! If not, the triggers will come when you least expect them. I remember not knowing if I was coming or going.
If you don't remember or take away anything else...know that people are hurting. We all have life experiences some good and bad. For those of us who suffer, choose not to suffer in silence! You are not alone.