8 Things Everybody Should Know About PTSD
1. Not being a soldier doesn’t make PTSD any less valid
PTSD isn’t just related to combat, nor is violence only related to bloodshed. The type of event that can cause PTSD could be anything traumatic which includes natural disasters, terrorist attacks, child abuse, rape, domestic abuse, and even witnessing a traumatic event happening to someone else. The brain is basically broken down into two parts: the thinking part of your brain and the survival part of your brain located near your brain stem. When trauma happens the survival part of your brain kicks in and tell you to either fight or flee. If neither of these primal instincts bring relief from the situation, then the trauma gets stuck in the primal part of your brain and that reaction is the underlying cause of PTSD. Bloodshed isn’t the only type of situation that causes fight or flight, and neither is bloodshed the only thing that causes PTSD.
2. It IS treatable
PTSD isn’t a life sentence, though healing from it is a process. The loop that the traumatic memory goes in the base of your brain can be vicious, but it’s not unstoppable.It takes commitment and a willingness to be uncomfortable while facing the traumatic memory on part of the survivor. PTSD isn’t often overcome with ease, but it can be overcome.
3. It’s not as uncommon as you may think
24.4 million people nationwide struggle with PTSD, which is equivalent to the entire population of Texas. Chances are all of us know at least a few people that have PTSD.
4. One can’t just “get over it”
PTSD is a real chemical reaction in one’s brain. It not “all in your head” or as simple as going on a walk to improve one’s mood. Asking a loved one who has PTSD to try something simple to improve their symptoms is like asking someone with a broken arm to put a Band-Aid on it.
5. Talking about it is important
PTSD can’t be healed from if one doesn’t talk about it. When a traumatic event happens, that memory naturally goes into the survival part of your brain. PTSD is when that memory stays there and doesn’t move to the other parts of the brain to be processed. In order to move that memory away from the survival part of one’s brain, it needs to be put into words. That could mean writing it down, talking about it, writing a song about it, or however one can find a way to talk about it. If a loved one comes to you wanting to talk about their trauma, take the time to listen. It may be the most important thing you ever do with them.
6. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone with PTSD is to just be there
Even though a traumatic memory needs to be put into words to be processed properly, that isn’t as easy as it may sound. Traumatic memories are naturally wordless while they reside in the base of one’s brain. They’re static, made of pictures, strong emotion, clips, and confusion. A memory that lasts minutes can takes several long therapy sessions to put into words at all. Often someone with PTSD will experience flashbacks and panic attack, but they can’t tell the people around them exactly what’s wrong. That’s ok. Often the best thing you can do in those moments is to be there for them and understand that they can’t always articulate why they’re upset.
7. People with PTSD aren’t being over dramatic
When the loop of PTSD continues it makes one feel as though they are living within the traumatic situation all the time, even though their environment is completely different. It’s not a feeling that can just be shaken off, and it can affect someone at what seem like the most random times. If a loved one with PTSD tells you how they feel, listen. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you the sense of terror is very real for them.
8. One can’t heal alone
It’s not uncommon for someone with PTSD to want to isolate themselves completely from the world. One’s comfort zone may shrink to the size of one’s bedroom. However, this isn’t healthy, and healing won’t take place here. To heal from PTSD requires a strong relationship with someone you trust and who knows how to respond, preferably a therapist. The steps it takes to heal cannot be gone through alone, and nor can they be gone through with just anybody. Some people are ignorant to what it takes to live with PTSD even though they may desire to be that person for you. Be sure to choose someone who can show up for you in your darkest moments to go through the process with you.