PTSD, The Military, and Then There’s Me

I Want YOU to Care About PTSD
Image by Ilona Meagher via Flickr

As we are approaching Veteran’s Day, and last night’s #mhsm Mental Health and Social Media Chat on Twitter was focused on PTSD and the military, my thoughts are turning to living life with this diagnosis.

Personally, my experience with PTSD is not from battle or time spent serving my country. I can only imagine the stress and trauma that soldiers experience, the kinds of things that they have endured.

From NPR article: “PTSD: Not a new ailment from “Wortorn” battlefield“: “If you have any doubt that PTSD is a real thing or you wonder what causes it or you think PTSD happens because the war is good or it’s bad or you come home a hero or villain, it’s really irrelevant. What’s really relevant is that the experience of war — and experiencing man’s inhumanity to man — causes psychological damage.”

I have not experienced this, I do not know this horror, but I can relate to many of the symptoms these soldiers and others affected by wartime trauma experience. My trauma experiences come from witnessing domestic violence in my home as a child, an experience in which I was molested as a young girl, and later experiences of sexual abuse.

Reliving the traumatic experiences from my past, a memory that haunts and keeps coming back, nightmares or flashbacks… this I can relate to. I have developed (and overcome in most regards) avoidance of people or places or even experiences that could remind me of these past experiences. I am easily startled, often “on edge” and extremely sensitive to sensory experiences like touch and sound. I understand  the emotional numbing that often accompanies PTSD, the sense of deadness inside, a detachment from life. And, I understand the horrific emotional pain that can lead to suicidal thoughts and even suicide attempts.

I offer my compassion, my heartache for those who experience this is a result of serving our country. It seems, there has to be a better way… a way to somehow protect our country and our servicemen? Yet, I do not know what it is.

I can say this… there is life and hope on the other side of PTSD. Although I may always experience some symptoms of this disorder, my life is fuller, richer and more beautiful than I ever knew it could be just a few years ago.

I invite you to check out the archives from last night’s Mental Health and Social Media chat where many resources for trauma and PTSD were shared and continue to be shared under the #mhsm hashtag on Twitter.

 

 

One thought on “PTSD, The Military, and Then There’s Me

  1. Amy –
    You vividly capture the world I lived in for so many years! Nightmares and flashbacks. A sleep disorder where I couldn’t go to sleep before 3 AM – because all the bad things happened late at night. Avoidance of certain things that might remind me. Exaggerated startle response. Emotional numbing. Suicidal thoughts, and in my case, problems with alcohol.

    I also relate to your other statement – there is life on the other side of PTSD. I am living a much richer life for having confronted the trauma – for having found the painful incidents from my childhood – the violence and violation – and having spend much time in therapy to heal those wounds!

    Yes, PTSD is real – the damage horrific! But it can be healed: no matter what the abuse, there is the hope of healing!

    Thank you for sharing so honestly, Amy! You are a beacon to us all!
    Dan

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