Welcome back to Week 10 of Mental Health Monday! Today I’d like to discuss Post Traumatic Stress Disorder also known as PTSD for short & what it looks like to those who don’t suffer from it.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental disorder that usually develops due to the exposure of a traumatic event, such as but not limited to sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, gun violence, warfare, traffic collisions, or any other threat placed on a person’s life.
For people who don’t suffer from PTSD, they tend to usually think that those who do suffer from it are just unable to move on from the traumatic event(s) that have taken place. Which is not always as easy as it may seem.
Sometimes people experience multiple traumatic events in their childhood or adulthood & suffer from more than just one incident. Suffering is sometimes done silently which can make coming out of PTSD even harder.
Taking things back for a moment to connect how the past & present have merged: Our ancestors were taught this code of secrecy because during the times of slavery they couldn’t celebrate themselves or each other even for the smallest of joys. They also couldn’t speak about certain things out loud so a blind eye was always turned.
In turn, our linage also inherited the code of secrecy in the family dynamic.
Growing up you were not to share what went on in the household. Many of our women knew their husbands were cheating & creating multiple families without saying a word to keep structure within the household. The men in the family who are predators, were protected & given no real consequences all to save face.
Although these ways of thinking may seem outdated many families today still operate by this code of secrecy & still suffer from the very same things I just mentioned.
For years many have suffered silently, especially women & generations today are just now waking up from this mental trap the more they acknowledge behaviors & patterns that contribute to this way of thinking.
The link between the code of secrecy & PTSD are the traumatic events that follow through the timelines of our linage.
We have all been affected in some way or definitely know someone who has. Unresolved issues like these create disorders such as PTSD.
Now, let’s get into what PTSD really is for those who don’t know…
PTSD is actually a lot of unwanted memories, having a negative self- image, being hyper vigilant, being emotionally distressed, having intrusive thoughts, becoming avoidant, isolating, pent up anger, guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, being easily triggered or scared, having flashbacks, nightmares, sleeping problems, & self-destructive behavior.
Those who suffer from PTSD don’t want to stay in this place of dis-ease. Often times we aren’t provided with all the tools necessary to cope healthily with our traumas & they start to run over other aspects of our lives unintentionally.
As someone who has suffered from PTSD I can tell you first hand how invalidating it can be to have people think I willingly wanted to stay, relive, or dwell in my traumas because the intrusive thoughts & feelings that are associated with this disorder were hard to transmute.
It takes a lot of work to face those traumatic experiences & retrain your brain to cope in a healthy way.
Being intentional about everything has truly helped me a great deal.
Along with years of diving in to understand my lineage & how the past & present are connected, acknowledging how these traumatic experiences have affected others in my family before me, as well as therapy.
During this healing journey I’ve learned that after PTSD comes PTG… post traumatic growth.
The growth that’s taken place after facing my traumatic experiences has been incredible but there are still times where those feelings of sadness creep back in & I have to remind myself that I am no longer in those situations that have inflicted pain & hurt upon me so there is no need to dwell in them.
I have grown & I am not the same person I was back when I found myself in those unwanted situations.
Being intentional about how I move forward starts with a choice made as soon as I open my eyes each morning.
I choose to not identify as still suffering from PTSD because my perspective has changed, I know the experiences I’ve had were meant to teach me in some way & provide the growth you all see today. I do not wish to give power to my traumas & sit in dis-ease. I hope you too can make that conscious decision for yourself.
Giving thanks & maintaining a grateful spirit starts the day off to being accepting of the abundance that awaits us all.
If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD try to be kinder to yourself or them while navigating these emotions & experiences. Those who suffer from PTSD already are overly critical of themselves & don’t need more judgement placed upon them.
Some ways to cope with PTSD are to learn to recognize your feelings, getting a service dog or a pet to comfort you, removing yourself from a situation that makes you uncomfortable, practicing being mindful as I mentioned above, & going to therapy can all be ways to help better manage how you feel. More tips can also be found in Weeks 1-9.
As always, treat yourself & others kindly.