As many of you already know, I have, in the past been hospitalized for severe depression and suicide attempts. (I choose to speak openly about this. . . I believe it is important so that others who battle these issues know that they are not alone.) My most recent hospitalization was in August of 2006 and I was admitted to the Trauma Unit based on the intake and admissions process to the hospital and questions that I answered about my history. I didn’t really understand what that meant for me at the time, why I was placed in that unit as opposed to the general Adult Psychiatric Unit, but I soon found myself surrounded by others who shared a lot of commonalities with me, although each of us with our own unique story.
As a person who suffers from Chronic Pain, I have begun to discover that others who suffer with chronic pain often also battle depression, anxiety, and similar issues. Labels and different diagnosis certainly aren’t necessary for us to relate to one another, but they sometimes help us to know and understand what a person is contending with. Sometimes, a label or new diagnosis, can bring with it a lot of questions, a lot of answers, or a lot of both!
So, now, 2 1/2 years after my hospitalization in the Trauma Unit, I am coming to terms with and learning about a label I can slap on, although no one is forcing me to, but it is something I can use to better understand what I am contending with. It also brings with it some new treatment options and ideas of ways to seek wholeness in my life.
A few weeks ago I agreed to help my sister-in-law with some writing for a web-site she has now created. This web-site is called www.healingartcreations.com and is designed to raise awareness and funds for her sister’s recent treatment as well as others who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. I wrote the little article describing what Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is, and little did I know, that a couple of weeks later, I would come to understand that this “label” or diagnosis also very much so applies to me, and is now a part of helping me determine what treatments to pursue.
I wanted to share that little piece of myself and writing with you:
What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur as a result of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. These types of events include such things as sexual and/or physical abuse, war, torture, natural disasters, and mass casualties or tragedies such as an airplane crash. Not everyone who experiences or witnesses these types of events will develop PTSD.
For those who do develop this disorder, though, life can become a most difficult existence. Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can include flashbacks (reliving the traumatic event or events in your mind for minutes, hours or even days), feelings of intense shame and guilt, nightmares or upsetting dreams about the event(s), irritability, anger, feelings of hopelessness, trouble sleeping, easily startled or frightened, memory and/or concentration problems, and an overall lack of enjoyment in life; to name a few. There is still much to learn about how this disorder affects one’s physiology and physical well-being, as well.
Healthy coping mechanisms are important to have in place in order to help avoid this disorder, but when a traumatic event, or repeated exposure to traumatic events occur, there is not a way to predict how one might respond. It is highly individualized as well as the way the disorder may manifest itself.
Most of us can see how these types of symptoms, reoccurring and on an ongoing basis would make life challenging to say the least. It is important to provide support and helpful resources to anyone who might be experiencing this disorder. There is help available in the world, but it often comes at a price. Unfortunately, the resources needed to help people dealing with PTSD, like so many other things, are available with very high cost and often little coverage by insurance, if you have it. Often, people are sadly left with the option of utilizing resources that are less than desirable, which can even then break the bank and lack the ability to truly help.
As a “trauma survivor” myself, I can only hope that we as individuals will take it upon ourselves to help our friends and loved ones in any matter involving mental health and PTSD. It is an area that is sorely in need of help, at all levels, and faces a great deal of stigma and misunderstanding. Put your own face inside the picture of the person suffering from PTSD . . .
Imagine as a young boy or girl your world was violated by the violence of physical abuse, experiencing this as a child without the aid of a healthy adult to remove you or protect you from the environment. Imagine yourself as a soldier who has experienced repeated exposure to bombings, being under attack, or having witnessed many of your peers injured from an explosion right in front of you. Imagine yourself or your own child, sitting behind the door of their bedroom, as they hear repeated violence occurring between their mother and father, with no ability to make it stop. Imagine, yourself, surviving a traumatic event and needing help to rebuild your life in its aftermath. This is PTSD.