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Three PTSD Myths and My Truths
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is one of those things that you hear about more and more these days, but that wasn’t always the case. If you had PTSD, it often went undiagnosed because doctors either didn’t know what to look for or you suffered silently as your world crashed around you because there was (and still kind of is) this stigma that if you were suffering, you were weak. Whether we want to acknowledge this or not is a whole other battle, but I’m talking to you. The person who has a loved one in their life battling PTSD, the person who wakes up next to someone having those horrible nightmares. I’m talking to you, the person who wants to know more because maybe all you know is what you’ve seen on tv. I’m talking to you, the person who has a friend of a friend who you think you heard had PTSD and are wondering if this person is safe to be around (you’ll understand this in a few minutes, trust me). First, I want to thank you for trying to learn more. There are so many PTSD myths and stereotypes out there that are so harmful to our relationships with those with PTSD and the people with it themselves.
PTSD and me
I’m Sam, and I was diagnosed with PTSD in 2014, but I have been dealing with it since 2012. Man, it feels crazy even to type that because there was a time where I suffered alone, and I was terrified to tell people about what was up with me. For the longest time, the Navy just treated me for anxiety and depression and the P-word was never brought up (mostly my fault because I wasn’t very open about what I was going through. Who wants a doctor to know just how crazy they are, am I right? Spoiler alert, I wasn’t right). My husband and I dealt with a lot together through my various treatments and periods of thinking I could do it on my own. Over the years I have heard A LOT of weird “facts” from people who got their information from Hollywood. Guys, Hollywood depicts those with PTSD and an insane light that should be taken lightly. Yea, I’m sure there are a few people out there, but I feel like most people assume that as all of us are like that. Here’s my take on three of the myths that I’ve heard.
PTSD Myths and my truths
PTSD Myth one: Only people in the military get PTSD.
My Truth: Nope. Not even close. While it’s one of the biggest platforms for PTSD awareness campaigns literally, anyone can develop PTSD. Child and adults alike are at risk after suffering a traumatic experience. I think this one comes from a lack of understanding just what PTSD is. When I was first diagnosed my doctor explained it to me like this. Your brain is like a filing cabinet. All your memories are files. Usually, your mind knows exactly where to put these memories, but sometimes things happen in your life that your brain just doesn’t know where this experience belongs. It spends its time just floating around without a place to go, and that’s not how the brain likes to operate. The point of treatment is to deal with the issue head on so your mind can finally find a place to put it.
Children and adults can develop PTSD a variety of ways. Assault, car accidents, abuse, and natural disasters are just a few ways outside of combat.
PTSD Myth two: Everyone with PTSD is dangerous to those around them.
My truth: Uh, again, no. Not even close. While irritability is a symptom of PTSD is doesn’t mean everyone experiences it nor does it mean they experience it in the same ways. I did experience anger as a symptom, but more often than not I was a bigger danger to myself than those around me. I fell a flight of stairs one time trying to flee from a situation, and since I was panicking, I didn’t see the steps and down I went. I blame Hollywood for this one. How often do you see an actor in a movie with PTSD flipping shit and punching everyone in sight because they are having a flashback? While some may experience that, I personally don’t know of anyone from my groups who have, a lot of us freeze or flee. Feeling paralyzed during a flashback and crying in a grocery store was my reality for the longest time.
PTSD Myth three: It’s been x amount of time, shouldn’t you be over this by now?
My truth: Everyone’s recovery is different, and no one can tell you how long it should take before you start to get control. One of the hardest parts for me during treatment was being honest with myself because I felt so ashamed of what happened and the things I thought that I hid them. I hid symptoms, and I hid thoughts of suicide, I hid it all. This hindered me feeling any bit better. It made me feel worse. Then, when people would ask why I don’t just “get over it” it hurt even more. There are also different treatments to try because just because one works for one person, it may not work for the next. A person has to be ready to face their PTSD because it can be a long, involved process that takes a lot out of you. If you are reading this and you have been diagnosed with PTSD and have heard this particular line, know that I am with you. You take that time you need and don’t let anyone rush you because you will end up screwing yourself in the end.
For right now that’s about all I have to say. This is one of those topics that I have to take in strides because it scares the crap out of me to openly talk about my truths with living with PTSD. I do plan on writing more about this in the future but in the meantime, if you need someone to talk to, my inbox is always open for you. You can contact me here! If you’d like to learn more about how I got to this point and creating The Teal Bandit, you can find that here!