Know what the #1 question that gets asked when someone finds out you have PTSD is? Something along the lines of “Oh wow, what happened to cause it?” as if that is what you really want to discuss. Many times it comes across like they are judging if your PTSD is an appropriate response to whatever actions lead up to it. We also recognize that you are afraid that it could happen to you. It could. Don’t worry. It isn’t contagious.
While I highly encourage you to lend an ear to anyone who would like to talk about traumatic events and realize that by their opening up to you, they are placing a huge amount of trust in you, I do not suggest that when they are opening up about their battles with PTSD, you dig up past events they are trying to escape. It just doesn’t work out that way. We need to deal and share on our own time. Not be judged or probed. As a friend, they are looking to you for support not some evaluation. There are professionals for that.
Also don’t assume that just because someone takes medication they are weak. For most it took a long road to open up to the fact that they may be better off by taking those medications and finding the right combinations to do what is needed is pure hell at times. Their prescriptions are none of your business and yes some of those can be abused if they are not needed, but most of us strive to feel normal when taking them. We are lucky if it works out like that. Getting high isn’t the goal for most of us. There are certainly easier outlets that can be cheaper & less stigma attached than popping pills. Each medication I am on was fought and popping the first dose is scary. Will there be interactions? Will it work? Will it make matters worse? Is it addictive or will my body build up resistance and then I will need stronger medication? There are a lot of worries involved with committing to trying to find a solution. Yes there are other natural options and many of us with mental health illnesses also try those prior & tend to use them in addition to the pharmaceuticals. If they did the trick for us, we would have stuck with them.
What you can do is learn what it means for them to deal with the illness. What they experience and how they would like understanding or support. Learn to accept that sometimes they aren’t going to be exactly like everyone else and not to take it personally.
Each person is unique and each situation is very unique. In fact from my experience and hearing about others’ experiences, it changes. Sometimes the changes are blessings and others not so great for us. Still this is our lives and we have to keep trying to find what will enable us to live the best life possible.
If it was as easy as “snapping out of it” or “thinking positive”, we gladly would have taken that option at the get go.
I don’t know anyone who chose to have PTSD, anxiety, depression, agoraphobia or any other disorder. We hate that we have it. We hate that it is a constant war and even when we win battles, there is a bigger possibility than not that we will have to fight again and again.
You can’t see it, but it is far too real for us. We miss who we were before this started. Most days we just hope that sooner or later we can love ourselves for who we are now and the coping skills will get us to normal. We know we are damaged beyond repair and not normal by your standards. Still we fight on to try to be. What is the other option?
Surviving another day is sometimes a big deal. Then we know tomorrow (if we are lucky enough to wake up) we have to go and do it all again. What if you knew every morning you would wake up & find a wall of bricks had overnight appeared around your bed. Every day you had to figure out how to get thru or over the wall & do the daily stuff like using the bathroom, getting food, etc. Then at the end of the day, you go to sleep and again when you wake another wall. Would you give up? Could you keep going?
Because frankly I am exhausted.
…& the last thing I need is having to explain to one more person why.
Still here I am. Fighting on & dealing with the “why can’t you…..” suggestions. Sometimes I feel like I should just stop taking my meds and then people can see how far I have come. Not that they would stick around for the journey. The reality is we fought hard to come to terms with what we are dealing with. If we open up and share tales from our travels or open up to trust you, know that it is a major act of trust that we don’t take lightly.
We know where we have been, what we have overcome and that we would gladly give anything not to have to deal with it.