PTSD, Suicide, and the Importance of Understanding
More Common Than You May Think
When someone says "PTSD" or "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," what comes to mind? Most people seem to first think of military veterans, or homeless men by the side of the road, left behind by the country and society that they risked their lives for. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, between 11 and 20% of military veterans suffer from PTSD. (1) It's a serious, and ever growing problem.
Did you know that PTSD can be caused by many other things, as well? Many people suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of childhood abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and many other serious situations.
PTSD is characterized by life changing, and often debilitating side effects, such as symptoms of depression, hyper- sensitivity, insomnia, night terrors and nightmares, hyper-awareness, suicidal ideation, and self destructive and irrational behavior. The word "trigger" gets thrown around a lot these days, and it's become a joke of sorts among internet culture. But traumatic triggers are a very real thing, and can send people suffering from PTSD into serious, even life threatening emotional breakdowns. These triggers are usually things that remind people - even very subtley - of the traumatic experience that they endured.
Responses, Reactions, Rejection, and Regret
It's very easy to accept that someone you know or love has PTSD. You can recognize that they get sad sometimes, sometimes they cry for what seems like no reason. They may talk to you about how they're having a hard day, or hard week, because they can't sleep or stop the flashbacks. But it seems like most people really don't recognize the reality of the illness.
Sometimes, a trigger can flip what I refer to as the "panic switch" and send people into a state of temporary insanity. For example, an individual who suffers PTSD from an instance in which they were restrained, held down, or tied up, may react violently and aggressively if they're being restrained. This is because their brain recognizes it as a life or death situation, and every part of their mind and body thinks that they truly need to fight for their life. Even if from the outside, it doesn't seem to be the case.
Afterward, that individual who truly didn't have any control over their reactions or behavior is demonized, and has to suffer for it. If they've been living with this illness for long enough, they're probably used to it. Suicide rates are extremely high among sufferers of PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Aside from the hopelessness that comes from feeling you have no control over your life, and sometimes yourself, another factor in this is social stigma.
Do you or someone you know suffer from PTSD?
People often leave their friends and loved ones behind after they have a bad episode, and this only compounds the feeling of loneliness that rules over these peoples' lives. It is fair to refuse to associate with people who make your life more difficult, or who have had a hand in events that you don't like. But it's important to recognize and try to be understanding of these issues, and that these people are suffering. The true key to healing is understanding.
If you know someone who is suffering from PTSD and needs help, especially if you think it's having a negative affect on others, try to discuss the issue with them. See if they would like a hand in recieving help. Sometimes, all it takes is knowing that someone cares and would be willing to wait at the mental health clinic with them.
© 2018 Yamuna Hrodvitnir