Living With PTSD

Coping with PTSD
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June is PTSD Awareness Month. I’ve lived with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since April of 2018. The battle is day to day. I may never fully heal.

I’m like many who have it. You would never know by interacting with us what lies just below the surface.

The National Institute of Mental Health puts it this way:

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened, even when they are not in danger.

I can’t go on the Michigan State University campus without getting physically sick. Names and faces associated with my traumatic experience can trigger me. I spend as much as $2,000.00 per month on medications and therapy to be able to function, and in some months, to stay alive.

In the darkest moments of the affliction, I contemplated suicide.

I write this not to seek anyone’s pity. I share this dimension of my life to hopefully help others recognize the signs of PTSD in friends, loved ones or themselves and to encourage you to seek help.

The PTSD Patch
The Patch I wear 24 hours a day.

I am able to experience happy moments, to enjoy treasured friendships and to productively contribute toward a better world. With a lot of work, the good days now far outnumber the bad. I’m blessed with a gifted psychiatrist, a supportive network family and friends, and am able to take advantage of the latest research in brain chemistry. I’m determined to make the most of every additional moment I’ve been given.

But it took me a long time to get to this point and the triggers still lurk. They can hit you when you least expect them and when they do, it can feel like “one step forward – ten steps backward.”

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology quotes these facts about PTSD:

Approximately seven or eight of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives.

Women are more likely to experience PTSD—approximately 10 out of every 100 women compared to four out of 100 men.

About half of people with PTSD may recover in three months without treatment. However, there is the possibility that symptoms will not go away on their own and may last longer than three months.

Face-to-face support may be better than love from afar for someone with PTSD, according to trauma experts.

If the Pandemic is still distancing you from a loved one with PTSD, Zooming, a phone call, even an email or handwritten card can help.

Veterans are at a much higher risk for PTSD. They comprise a significant percentage of the eight point six million Americans who have PTSD in a given year.

The good news is that PTSD is something a person can live with. The American Psychiatric Association has a dynamically updated website with reading and resources. If you think you may be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress, it’s a good place to start.

Whatever your current emotional state, be kind to all you meet. Everyone is dealing with something we may know nothing about. You may be the one ray of light in their darkness, without even realizing it.