Why don’t people want to learn about PTSD?

My name is Janice and I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  There, I’ve said it aloud to the whole wide world now. Yes, I know my loyal blog subscribers have read it before but not everyone bothers to read what I post here and often many don’t want to read about PTSD at all. I understand. I wish I could write cheery, delightful posts every day but that’s not likely to ever happen on my blog anyway. I am not much on small talk and idle missives. I like what I write to mean something, more importantly to possibly even help even just one person in the world.

Usually when I start talking about PTSD people skitter away and want nothing to do with even learning about it. Why is that? So many people have died because of it, including an entire family in Nova Scotia mere days ago and yet people want to stuff it under the rug along with all other manner of mental health issues as though sufferers should be ashamed and not talk about it or even dare be triggered into a full blown episode.

The shame is not ours but belongs to anyone who would rather look away than learn about this awful disorder that can strike anyone at any age. Trauma is not something we ask for nor do we want it. Yet, many of us have experienced so much trauma that we just lose our ability to cope. This includes many who were abused in childhood, many who will likely suffer PTSD all of their adult lives. This includes a man who works as a Police Officer. This includes the woman who works as a Paramedic. This includes all people working all front line jobs where trauma occurs daily from the Emergency Room to the soldiers who return from war torn daily life to be triggered by hearing a car backfire down their street. Some people may never develop PTSD but others, it seems, cannot avoid it. We do not lose our intelligence, we merely lose our ability to cope. All the intelligence in the world cannot prevent a person from getting PTSD.

How did I get PTSD? Well, the doctors feel I may have had a mild form of it from all the shocks I endured in my marriage. But I managed to cope and soldier on until 2012 when a long time trusted friend physically assaulted me while my ex held my arms. A near 20 year friendship down the drain with a kick by a woman who has martial arts and could have exploded my bladder and killed me on the spot. (No, she was never charged because he and she lied to the police and police dropped the charges). For two years I had health issues that stemmed from that kick, some I would rather not mention here. Not to mention my shoulders both now full of scars from clawing myself awake from nightmares for two years.

Some things about having PTSD are better now. The thing I struggle most with is the “trigger” unpredictability which can overtake everything so that you need sticky notes all over just to remind you of every day tasks or things you promised you would do for others. It’s not that you don’t want to do those things, you simply, well, speaking for me, I simply cannot remember everything and greatly appreciate reminders.

The first year I had PTSD I was unable to take in any amount of information. No matter how many times the clerk at the bank might repeat herself, I could not make out what she was saying. Her words were foreign, another language, it was all gibberish to me even though she was speaking English, my birth tongue.  I started to tremble, then tears flowed and the manager was called. I asked to have it noted on my file that I have PTSD, I also asked that they please “speak slowly” and “be patient” with me because PTSD is not something I can control.

Jumpiness used to be worse for me than it is now but I can still be startled by people coming up behind me in the grocery store (why oh why do people do that anyway…sigh).  Even walking right out in front of me virtually cutting me off, stopping me from walking because their royal rudeness couldn’t just wait their turn can trigger me.

A nasty phone call or exchange I don’t deserve from a mean neighbor or other person on a rant, an abusive text from my ex or criticism from any source can trigger an episode. An episode for me can last a week. A week’s worth of jumpiness, anxiety, depression and needing lots of quiet, safe solitude to recover. This is better though, for me. You see, I used to suffer from PTSD 24/7, with no end or break in sight. Anything and everything triggered me and I just kept withdrawing more and more from daily life to protect myself.

Even standing in a line at the bank or grocery store where people practically press right up against you can trigger me. I can’t stand anyone invading my space and will try to keep three feet between me and the person behind me. If they push up, I step away, sideways if I must just to get rid of that sense of invasion until it is my turn in the line. Sometimes I have had to flee a store, just drop all my intended purchases and race out the door to my car where I can get in and lock the doors against intrusive, invasive types out there in the public.

Personally I am sick and tired of people being sick and tired of hearing about this very important condition anyone can be struck down by. We were given two ears and two eyes and one mouth for one reason. Let’s stop shaming people for having this and start listening, seeing, sharing and asking more questions instead of bolting away as though the person has a highly contagious disease. PTSD is not contagious. Stupidity can be. If you let it. Let’s not let it.

In an effort to educate others about PTSD, I have begun making posters about it and will share the first two here with you now:

ptsd-and-you-poster-january-2016

 

ptsd-and-you-poster-2

If you or someone you know suffers from PTSD, I would love to hear how you are coping and what helps you to calm when you are triggered by people or events out of your control.  Also, making these posters will be ongoing so if you have anything you feel you’d like others to know about PTSD please share and I will include it in a poster.  Take good care and be gentle with yourself.

See you next time.

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25 thoughts on “Why don’t people want to learn about PTSD?

  1. Eloquently put and informative without being overwhelming. I had a group friend with PTSD and without thinking I gave her a hug and I though she was going to faint. I myself don’t like hugs really and I also need my own 3 feet and even get a little fidgeting when people invade but she seems so vulnerable that without thinking. She lets me hug her every time we meet now but it was a little touchy and we all need to be aware of the small idiosyncrasies of people with this disorder. You’re a good voice. ~~dru~~

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  2. For me I recite the alphabet backwards in my head. Your mind can’t focus on two things at once. Also I have been teaching qigong since 1993 and found that has made the events fewer and very far apart.
    Just remember you have a soul sister who knows you are perfect just as you are and loves you for your honesty and courage.
    Hugs & love always, Yotaki Beautywalk

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love and hugs to you dear Yotaki Beautywalk. Your coping technique reminds me of the trauma therapist telling me to count off items in a room. You are right, the mind can’t focus on two things at once. Just looking at the beautiful medicine bowl you weaved for me is also calming. Thank you for being you dear heart. ❤️❤️❤️

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  3. Excellent post, Janni. Hopefully these posters can help educate others. I think kindness and compassion is always the correct response in any situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hats off to you Janni in every way. This is so well put it is BOUND to help sufferers and those close to them too. xxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Generally, people don’t want to talk about the hard things. I often joke and laugh–it is my coping mechanism–it helps me get through the rough times. Im thinking about starting a blog about the NON-fun things in my life. I have to start from scratch on that one. One where my family can’t know what I am writing.

    Hang in there love! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand. It is the big purple elephant in the room most want to avoid in any way they can. Which is all the more reason we must never stop talking about those elephants in the room. Silence changes nothing. In most cases silence is the choice that feeds the darkness, keeps the bad things happening. I hope you do a blog. I would love to read what you have to say. Voice on! And thanks kindly for reading and commenting. Have a great day.

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  6. My goodness, I knew those symptoms well. Thankyou for such a clear description. Got my nerves all back together again now, how about you Janni?

    Liked by 1 person

    • PTSD. Is like that, isn’t it, you can be completely overwhelmed so fast and then, with the right coping technique or guidance from a key support person, you can start feeling better. My heart goes out to you and everyone suffering PTSD. It is one of the worst things that can happen to a person in my opinion. Then people skitter away instead of being supportive and asking questions about it. I am hoping to raise awareness about it now that I am in a better place myself. I will likely always have PTSD but I am one of the lucky ones, I have had great support from trauma experts and loving supportive friends, family and loved ones. Or I sure wouldn’t be writing this lol. Hugs to you.

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      • I am lots better now, but yes, the good ones stick around long after the part timers are gone 😉 Glad you have the support!

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      • Glad you are better, always here for you in any way I can be. True the part timers fall away but good riddance lol. We need solid loyal folks around us and deserve the best in life. Hope this finds you having a great day. Talk to you again soon. ❤️❤️❤️

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  7. That is horrible and I hope one day you see some justice!

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    • There is a very funny thing that happens to such abusers. The justice appears to find it’s way home to them in the form of the unhappy lives they lead. Karma does exist. Their continued ire at the world and toward themselves seems to be a levelling factor they cannot avoid. All those who were so mean to me have been slammed by forces I can only think of as divine intervention.

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  8. Nicely done, Janni. PTSD is something people think they know something about because it is “out there” in the ether being discussed, but in relation to military service or more obvious “survival” stories. I never thought I had PTSD because I wasn’t physically abused or I didn’t witness anything horrible, yet I endured years of emotional and mental abuse. I got Chronic Fatigue and had to retire early from a job I loved (all the while thinking I was the problem).

    Seven years after HE left me (because he was sick of me being sick), I am healthier, but not healthy and I still flinch when I think my extremely loving partner (Philip) might be angry with me (he never is, by the way). But there is always that baseline fear that, if I do or say the “wrong” thing, I will ruin everything. I wonder if I will ever shake that fear. I don’t get the panic attacks like I used to, but the low hum of fear is ever-present, dulling the joyfulness of life.

    I really appreciate your efforts, Janni, to educate and sensitize people to the reality that there are damaged people trying to craft a good life. All I need is kindness and patience. Maybe no one can understand, but compassion doesn’t require understanding; it just requires a willingness to pause and connect with our essential humanity.

    Love you, Girl Friend! ❤ ❤ ❤

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    • So well said, Lorna. Love your addition to my post. Thank you so much for sharing your own experience. I know all too well how even writing about what happened to us can trigger us. Like you, I have those darn “anxiety buttons” that were so established in the mental and emotional abuses of my marriage they are hard to shake. Nine years out now and with a man of four years who is, like your Phil, one of my rocks. He won’t put up with any BS from anyone and he won’t let me either, lol. There is hope because I know just in the five years since I was physically assaulted into PTSD, I am in a better place now. This is my wish for you, that you on day find you no longer have that lingering anxiety. Thanks again for your voice on this, soul sister ❤️❤️❤️

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  9. Hi Janni. It’s nice to meet you, thank you for following my blog. I do not have PTSD, but I appreciate you writing about your experiences so others can learn. The posters are a great way to get the word out as well, I’ve noticed many people want really short bits of info. I’m always happy to share if that’s okay.

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    • Please share as you wish! I appreciate your feedback and I also believe people are looking for shorter bits of info especially on the internet. I try not to write long pieces here but sometimes the fleshing out of a piece is required for it to make total sense. So glad for your comments. Thanks for reading. ❤ ❤ ❤

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