PTSD Awareness Day
I’m not going to force this post to have an air of toxic positivity. I hate that I have PTSD. I hate that my life is plagued at moments by anxiety and depression.
Things would quite possibly be a lot better if I hadn’t endured those traumatic events that led to this. Maybe it would be easier if my DNA wouldn’t have made me more likely to respond to traumatic events in this manner.
It’s also entirely possible that if it weren’t for those events I wouldn't be the person I am. I might be a boring person and I would likely hold on to toxic friendships longer than I normally do. But it’s hard not to wonder what it would be like to have never had flashbacks, trust issues, or anxiety attacks that seem to sweep me away into a vortex of frustration.
I’m not sure that I know how to write a post for PTSD Awareness Day. This year it falls on June 27th, but it seems to vary every year. June has also become associated with PTSD awareness - even though I think most of us associate it more with being Pride month. If you do a quick google search on it you’ll see a bunch of posts that are almost exclusively talking about Veterans with PTSD. War-related PTSD is actually only one small piece of the puzzle.
Growing up I always associated PTSD with men that came back from war with flashbacks that would plague their day-to-day. I had no idea that in the US it actually affected more than twice as many women as men. I think it’s problematic that PTSD is so heavily associated with veterans when in fact approximately 49% of cases stem from sexual assault.
I felt weird when I got the diagnosis. I knew something was wrong with me and I knew I was plagued with bad memories coming at me at random times - but I didn’t associate any of this with what I had seen in films. It never really crossed my mind that women got PTSD.
Why aren’t women more associated with PTSD?
I feel like often we are expected to be the fearless leaders of the #MeToo movement. We’re supposed to be “boss bitches” that pick ourselves back up after trauma and happily break glass ceilings. Some of us do have trust issues and push others away. We’re also used to seeing our rapists walk free - mine is doing just fine with a really good job and kids. I’m not a celebrity. I feel fairly confident that if I were to #Metoo him he would paint me as the slutty college girl (I was embarrassingly far from it lol) and because he’s the family man now he’d probably win. I’ll never forget how many people in this country supported Brett Kavanaugh. Half of this country seems to side with rapists as long as they go to church reluctantly with their wives.
But that’s more than enough about me.
So what exactly is PTSD?
According to the American Psychiatric Institute “Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury.
People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.”
I would also like to add that PTSD is not a reason for a cop to kill an innocent person. It’s not an excuse for any type of violence. It's unfortunate that we often hear most about mental health in the media in regards to criminal incidents. This is why I think it's so important for all of us to share our stories.
When I was at my worst, it felt like I was living in a nightmare. I would often lose concentration in the middle of the chapter of a book to have a flashback and then for some reason forget the basic details of the story before that happened. My once excellent memory turned to mush. I remember asking a psychiatrist if I might have had brain damage. Things just seemed so wrong. I barely felt like me anymore. I was exhausted all the time because any sleep I managed to get was rattled with PTSD nightmares.
Over time things gradually got better. I’ve noticed that for whatever reason I sometimes take a step back over new minor traumas. I’m currently aware that I’ve taken a step back after my car was crushed by someone rear-ending me on the expressway about a month ago. It’s frustrating. I’m not sure why PTSD is the way some people’s minds handle trauma. I’m not sure why I had to be one of those people.
One out of every thirteen people in the US is diagnosed with PTSD. The actual number is likely even higher. Almost all of us know at least one person with PTSD whether or not we know it. It’s something that you can pretty easily hide.
For years it was something that I did hide.
If you want to participate in PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th the official color to wear in support is teal. If you’re silently suffering with PTSD I suggest sharing your story as well - if that’s something you feel comfortable with.
I hope that these awareness days help people realize that they should not be ashamed of talking about their own mental health issues. There really is no other way to remove the stigma of mental health. If you don't have any mental health issues just remind yourself to have a bit more empathy for those that are silently (or not so silently) suffering around you.
This post is not sponsored at all. I do want to do a quick shout out to Ferris Built
for making the awesome PTSD warrior mug I showed in this post and for donating 25% of the proceeds of their mental health collection to mental health advocacy programs.
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