Thursday, December 13, 2018

Stop comparing and start understanding PTSD

PTSD is not a contest

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 13, 2018

This has become very strange times in this country. PTSD is now so popular on social media, there seems to be a contest on how much worse one person has it over others. It used to be something that was kept secret but apparently, the only secret folks seem to be keeping, is that lives can be healed. 

Post Traumatic, means after trauma. Trauma is Greek for "wounded" so it literally means, after wound. Surviving something terrible, causes stress in every part of the survivor. Mind, body and spirit are all involved in the second "it" happened and every second after the event happened. The disorder comes when nothing is "normal" within your sense of how you perceive it was.

The trick is, to get out of the terrible moment and begin the healing moment as soon as possible. That is why Crisis Intervention works best when available as soon as it is safe to have that type of aid respond.

OK, that said, it can happen after just one time. If you survive something and the symptoms do not ease up within 30 days, or go away, then that is an indication you should seek professional help. It means the event has attacked deeply inside of you.

Like an infection, sometimes you just need something to help the wound heal and it is available within your own reach. Other times, the infection is so strong, it spreads out without getting stronger help to heal it.

The scar left behind is determined by the strength of the infection and the response you apply to heal it.

As for how many Americans have PTSD, this is from the Sidran Foundation.

Facts at a Glance
  • An estimated 70 percent of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives and up to 20 percent of these people go on to develop posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
  • An estimated 5 percent of Americans—more than 13 million people—have PTSD at any given time.
  • Approximately 8 percent of all adults—1 of 13 people in this country—will develop PTSD during their lifetime.
  • An estimated 1 out of 10 women will get PTSD at some time in their lives. Women are about twice as likely as men to develop PTSD.
Extreme Trauma and PTSD
  • PTSD may develop following exposure to extreme trauma.
  • Extreme trauma is a terrifying event or ordeal that a person has experienced, witnessed, or learned about, especially one that is life-threatening or causes physical harm.
  • The experience causes that person to feel intense fear, horror, or a sense of helplessness.
  • The stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life including mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
  • Research suggests that prolonged trauma may disrupt and alter brain chemistry. For some people, this may lead to the development of PTSD.
Now you know how many others have it, but also consider how many do not know they have it.

This is a good place to begin the next part of what you need to know. While you have just read how far reaching PTSD for just regular Americans, after surviving one time, there are others who have faced so many of them, it is hard for them to remember all of them or know exactly which one hit them the hardest.

They are the responders to the events the rest of us needed to be responded to. EMTs, Firefighters, Police Officers, Military Service Members and National Guards as well as Reservists, top the list.

There are also those who develop PTSD because they live with, or treat people who have it. That is called "Secondary PTSD" because they were hit by too. The Atlantic has a pretty good article that should help you understand this one.

"Whether an altered world view is ultimately destructive, Pearlman writes, “depends, in large part on the extent to which the therapist is able to engage in a parallel process to that of the victim client: the process of integrating and transforming these experiences of horror or violation.” She recommends that all trauma therapists undergo therapy of their own."
It is why I constantly have people I can talk to so that I can keep doing this work without falling apart. After 36 years topped off with living with it in my husband, I lost count on how many times I needed help too.

"Trauma after tragedy is nothing new: Evidence of PTSD in soldiers and commanders is present in ancient Greek and Roman texts. The pages of many Greek tragedies, like Sophocles’s Ajax and Euripides’s Heracles, are rife with veterans maddened by war. In the Roman army, suicide attempts were, strangely, punishable by death—unless a soldier was found to suffer from shame, sadness, or “weariness of life.”"
Really good summation there!

Years ago, I had a veteran tell me that since I was never in combat, I couldn't understand what it was like for him. In other words, he challenged how I could dare assume to know. I was in one of those "bitchy" moods and decided I was not going to take that from anyone. He wanted a contest, so, I brought my A-game.

First, I admitted that he was right and I did not know what it was like to be in combat. Then I proceed to run down the list, going back 50 years of many times when my life was on the line. 

And then I asked him if he could understand what each thing was like for me. He said he could not.

But then I asked him if he could understand what it was like afterwards. That he could understand.  The clincher was when I told him that I did not have PTSD and the 30 day window was shattered. I asked him if he wanted to know what that was like. He said he did.

So, we proceeded to change the conversation into how I healed so that he could do it too. So that he could recover most of the control of his life and what could not be healed, he would have the tools to prevent their power from taking over.

These are the conversations all of us should be having instead of who has it the worst. Aren't you tired of fighting the wrong battles? Then join the right fight to make it oh, so much better for so many more people!

No comments:

Post a Comment

If it is not helpful, do not be hurtful. Spam removed so do not try putting up free ad.