Word Smith: PTSD
The girl lay prostrate on the ground, paralyzed by fear. The blow to her head from her brother was not the worst part, it was the latest in a string of abuses that her father and other siblings had flung her way. And they just kept coming. She was in shock.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that millions of people experience in their lives. As the image above depicts so well, the outer beauty disappears and the inner rot creates a deep sense of internal decay. You may still look “pretty” on the outside, but you feel corroded to the core.
One of the myths of PTSD is that the only ones who suffer from the condition have been engaged in war; however, those affected by the disorder go far beyond people who have survived armed conflict. The statistics are staggering: in 2009 the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimated that approximately 7.7 million American adults age 18 and older (about 3.5 percent of people in this age group) have experienced PTSD.
The most prevalent trauma involved with this disorder comes from abused children, where 50% of the victims are clinically observed to experience PTSD. (Long before Jerry Sanduski and the kids at Penn State, the Catholic Church was a perpetrator of child abuse that has become part of these statistics.) The second most prevalent trauma comes from battered female spouses, where the statistics say that 45% of the wives who experience spousal abuse suffer lasting impact from the disorder. (Long before Ray Rice of the NFL Ravens knocked out his finacee, men at astonishing rates were physically abusing their wives and girl friends.)
The next largest group of sufferers comes from raped adults, both female and male, where 36% experience PTSD. Military personnel experience PTSD at a rate of 30%, which is astonishing considering the millions of people who are in the various Armed Services of our country. That means that only 70% of our veterans find their way back into society without the clinical diagnosis of the lasting effects of post traumatic stress disorder, at least so far.
The Brain on Overload
The brain is an amazing, yet tricky organ. It is amazingly complex, adaptable, and pliable. The bad news is that once stuff gets in the brain, there are some key times in our development when it is hard to get that stuff back out. The good news is that there are experts in mental cognition who can help us get from where we are to a place of peace with our past brain experiences. We found just such a counselor, who helped me to identify some of my behaviors as reactions much like post-traumatic stress.
Combat PTSD is real
Every day we have people who put on their armor and go to battle with their bosses or their customers or their spouses or their coworkers or federal regulators. They do not use bullets, but the undetected slings and arrows are just as potent. The effects of PTSD can be sneaky.
So what should we do about it, if we feel it in our lives? Our heart rate spikes, or dreams are interrupted, we have moments of explainable anxiety and terror. The best advice is to see a trained therapist as things start to get weird. Before you snap, seek out the best professional you can find who has seen this before. No need to be a hero. There are people out there ready, trained, and willing to help.
Counseling will help you give all victims the right vocabulary for your feelings. Once you can put your feelings and dreams (nightmares) into words, then they can help you see that the “it” is not you. The IT of PTSD is separate from you. It has invaded your head temporarily. With careful counseling and professional oversight, PTSD can be medicated, isolated and excised from your system. That process of removal may not mean that all night sweats and bad dreams go away, those are from the subconscious mind; but the conscious self can be renewed and refreshed for another day. And after all, what we are really looking for is another day.
Call a PTSD Helpline, if you feel like you will snap
That CALL could make the difference :
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline – (800) 274-8255 – suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- National Sexual Assault Hotline – (800) 656-HOPE – rainn.org/get-help/national-sexual-assault-hotline
- Veterans Crisis Line – (800) 273-8255 – veteranscrisisline.net/
- American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress – aaets.org/crisishotline.htm (Locate your state and call the associated number)
Health & Mindfulness