PTSD Awareness Day 2012

I debated with even posting today.  Part of me thought I should just let the day go by…. then the other part remembered one of the reasons why I am open and honest about my mental health – in case one person can gain comfort in knowing they aren’t alone in the battle.  Education is great, but support from those who actually get it is priceless.

Seeing post on Twitter today from people who get it (many who have it) warmed my heart.  Today is in fact Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day.

 PTSD Awareness Day was first established by Congress in 2010 after  Sen. Kent Conrad, (D-N.D.), proposed honoring North Dakota Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, who took his own life following two tours in Iraq. Biel’s birthday was June 27.

So many times we don’t think of mental illness as being life threatening, but when it comes to PTSD think again.  Be it suicide or just effects in daily life, the disorder takes a toll.  Thankfully there are options and help.  We know more than ever about PTSD.  It isn’t uncommon anymore, sadly in most ways but in others we are better able to support each out & understand.

Remember that not all wounds are visible.

Not all memories can be forgotten, even when you block them out.

There is a lot of misunderstanding & stereotypes out there associated with it too.  For one this isn’t a “Soldier’s” affliction.  It doesn’t take deployment or being under fire to “contract” it.  It’s not genetic or contagious.  It just happens to some even if not to others experiencing similar events.  In short it could happen to anyone.  The effects are as varied as the events that trigger it.

Not everyone will have panic attacks as frequent or dive into agoraphobia, but one common thing is help… well it helps.  Its worse if you try to avoid or ignore the effects (as if you could).  Admitting you are experiencing something doesn’t give it more power over you, it just opens a door to understanding what you are up against.  In my view anyway.  It’s not something you just wake up, suck it up & get over.  There isn’t a timeline or expiration date.  Sometimes you feel you have it beat, then the next day you find yourself wishing it were all over to stop the agony.  It just isn’t predictable.  There isn’t any stages to progress thru.

I’m not going to get into my personal experiences lately.  Frankly at the moment they are feeling a little to fresh.  What I will say is get help if you feel like you may be feeling stressed.  If you know someone who is dealing with this, be there for them.  Let them talk, let them not talk.  Understand that they may not be able to predict or control what the are dealing with.  Moods change.  They may or may not know their triggers.  Even when you do know, you can’t always avoid them.  Know that as much as it frustrates you, it is ten times worse for them.  They can’t just “Stop” feeling they ways they do.  If they could, they would.

For those who are sharing the battle, I got your back.  Keep fighting the good fight.  We are worth it.  We didn’t ask for this, but we are damn straight going to win against it.

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