Facts and Fables…Fighting PTSD
Like with every mental problem or disorder, there are a lot of fables and myths about PTSD. That’s not that strange, people can’t see it or they don’t understand it, but it can be very frustrating to those of us who suffer from it.
So, let’s set some things straight today!
Only veterans can get PTSD.
Nope. Anyone who suffers from a traumatic experience can get PTSD.
(Sexual) abuse, the sudden death of a loved one, domestic violence, serious injury, witnessing or going through a terrifying event and more are all causes for PTSD.
Everyone who experiences a life-threatening event will develop PTSD.
Although it’s true that a lot of people have symptoms of PTSD after a life-threatening event, they can reduce after a couple of months. But, only when you still have the symptoms of PTSD 10 months after the event, you might develop PTSD. There is a difference between ASD (Acute Stress Disorder) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
After a certain amount of time, I should be over my trauma.
No. There is no time-table for healing from a trauma.
Sometimes a person can be just fine for some time, but then something triggers the memories and they find themselves plagued by symptoms. Also, some people keep the memories of the trauma hidden away in their mind to protect themselves. But at a certain point, they start to surface and they may find themselves overwhelmed by things that didn’t bother them for decades.
My trauma was so long ago that it’s too late to do anything about it.
The good news is that it’s never too late to address your trauma. In fact, there are a lot of reasons that someone would wait to get treatment. In some ways it is easier treating people with a trauma that’s older than individuals whose event was less than a year ago.
PTSD is only seen in people with ‘weak characters’ who are unable to cope with difficult situations in the same way that most of us do. You should just ‘get over it’.
Are you freaking kidding me? If you are fighting PTSD you are a warrior! You are stronger than whatever it was that hurt you so much. Don’t ever think that you are weak! And for the ones who seriously believe this crap, I invite you to live one day, just one day, with my mind and see if you can survive!
If you have PTSD, you are crazy.
PTSD is a normal response on an abnormal experience. You are not crazy, you are wounded.
Untreated, PTSD does not get better in time. It often gets worse.
PTSD doesn’t just go away. In fact, on many occasions, the flashbacks and nightmares get more severe as you remember more and more about the traumatic event you have been through. There is no shame in getting help. If you would break your leg, you would go to a doctor too.
PTSD can be triggered in a moment by a memory, an image, a sound, or even smell.
Everything that remembers you of the experience you have been through can be a trigger. This trigger can cause a flashback, a fall-out or even a panic attack. Get to know your triggers and, if it’s possible, teach the people who are close to you what your triggers are. It will save you a lot of stress and anxiety.
PTSD can often lead to alcohol and drug abuse.
To numb, to forget, to try to cope with your PTSD, alcohol or drugs may seem like a good and easy option. They are not. It’s not dealing with the problem and it won’t take the PTSD away. If anything, it will make things worse. You will need more and more of the substance you are abusing to keep the PTSD under control. Besides your PTSD, you may now have to fight an addiction as well. Double trouble.
Trauma survivors who have PTSD may have trouble with their family relationships or friendships.
Their symptoms can cause problems with trust, closeness and communication, which may affect the way the survivor acts with others. In turn, the way a loved one responds to him or her affects the trauma survivor. A circular pattern may develop that could harm relationships. People with PTSD often withdraw from social life. Don’t let them go, be there for them and check up on them.
People with PTSD have a high risk of committing suicide.
The flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks as well as the social isolation can get so severe that someone doesn’t see another way out anymore. Also, depression is a common symptom of PTSD. Reach out and care! It may save someone’s life.
You can heal from PTSD.
The things that happened to you will not magically disappear. They will leave scars, like every other wound. But, you can learn how to deal with your PTSD and live a good life. This will take time and courage. Just don’t give up and keep fighting. Common treatments for PTSD are: Exposure therapy, EMDR therapy, support groups and cognitive behavior therapy.
PTSD needs understanding, not judgment.
Don’t judge yourself for having PTSD. It’s not about what’s wrong with you, it’s about what happened to you. It’s NOT your fault. It’s okay to break down, you don’t have to be strong all the time. Just remember to always get back up and continue to fight. You are worth it.