“Just forget about it.” “Get it together.” “You’re crazy.” “Just let it go.”
These are a few phrases that people with PTSD hear often. Why can’t they just “let it go?” Why would anyone think they’re crazy? In honor of PTSD Awareness Month, I’d like to shed some light on this particular topic and its devastating reality in hopes that the use of these phrases in reference to one’s past trauma are eliminated.
What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? PTSD is a mental health issue that many people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event or trauma. Trauma can take many forms and the aftermath can affect any person, regardless of race, gender, or age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects about 3.5% of U.S. adults, and nearly 1 in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lifetime. It is also stated that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with PTSD than men. Most of us are aware that PTSD affects combat veterans, but it also affects rape victims, victims of abuse, victims of natural or accidental disasters, and many others as well.
Usually in these incidents, the individual may not have any control over the situation, which can lead to the development of PTSD. They may constantly have nightmares or relive the event, especially when triggered by something that reminds them of the trauma. Sometimes, individuals who have been diagnosed with PTSD try to avoid people or places that remind them of the incident. Understandably, it is difficult for a person with this disorder to trust other people, and they may exhibit difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and even paranoia. An individual who suffers from PTSD will likely suffer from other mental health problems, like anxiety, depression, alcohol/drug abuse, and unfortunately, they sometimes even have thoughts of suicide.
People with PTSD can’t just “let it go” and move on. Always be considerate to those who are suffering, and be understanding and willing to make a difference. Thanks to the various amounts of resources for PTSD, help is available in a variety of ways. However, the likelihood of an individual who is suffering from PTSD reaching out for assistance on their own is very small. If you know someone who has suffered a traumatic event, or you know someone who exhibits any of the symptoms of PTSD, encourage them to get assistance. You can help by contacting a crisis counselor at 1-800-273-TALK or online chat system at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
“Trauma creates change you don’t choose. Healing creates change you do choose.”
About the Author
Chelsea Woods has a Master’s degree in special education and is an Educational Diagnostician. Her passion is children, particularly children with special needs. Chelsea has been married to her husband Dylan for 6 years, and they have two girls, Kamdyn, five, and Emersyn, one. She enjoys time with her church family, working in their garden, and taking vacations and making memories as a family