Once upon a time a border town Texas gal met a brave Fort Bliss soldier. You guessed it. The gal and the soldier fell madly in love and got married. Fast forward ten years later, add a beautiful child, post-traumatic stress disorder and a marriage separation to the equation. Usually the “Once upon a time” stories end with “happily ever after.” The good news? The brave soldier eventually found the courage to seek treatment for his destructive PTSD. His wife was afraid and lost, but was there for him to get through the unknown. She was hell bent to support her soldier in recovery and find support and answers for herself.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can develop after someone has experienced at least one traumatic event in their life. PTSD affects people from all walks of life. This elusive mental health illness does not discriminate against age, gender or race. A child being abused can develop PTSD. A person living in conflict -saturated geographical areas can develop PTSD. The family and friends of the PTSD afflicted also face the challenges of this destructive mental illness. It has been known for decades that combat veterans are at high risk for developing PTSD – higher risk than their non-combat veteran colleagues.
I married an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran. I was ignorant to military life and the sacrifices our brave soldiers make to defend our freedom. I grew up in a military town that had a sizable military base in its backyard. As I’ve gotten older, I often wonder why I was so ignorant. It is almost embarrassing. After coming face-to-face with the challenges of loving someone with PTSD, raising PTSD awareness has become one of my life’s missions. Mental illness has an dominant way of humbling a person. Coping through the web of PTSD is painful and confusing; questions play on repeat in your mind. What can I do to help? Why is this so hard? Will it ever get better? Should I stay or should I go?
It is so important for society to learn more about PTSD. Ignorant citizens of the world, like myself, need to know what PTSD is and how to help someone with PTSD. Sure, it would be easy to just take your wallet out and donate to a mental health nonprofit. Donating is great. It gives nonprofits the ability to offer services the government is failing to offer. Individuals must do more than that. Family and friends, who have connections to PTSD, also need to learn as much as they can about this mental illness. Why do people, who don’t have this disorder, need to be aware of the symptoms? Why bother? People with PTSD and other mental illnesses deserve to be treated like dignified people. Society needs to support the people with invisible disabilities because they are a part our communities.The neighbor living two houses down, who despises your yearly backyard firework display, could be a combat vet with PTSD. The person experiencing a panic attack sitting next to you on your flight just happened to lose her son in a plane crash. We all have stories. Some stories are more unfortunate and traumatic than others. There is hope and society can offer that hope.
People with PTSD are in desperate need of support so they can live. It is that simple. I am committed to raising PTSD awareness as long as I am alive. I am just one person, but thousands of individuals together can become an army- an army to fight day and night against the ugly face of PTSD. I have hope and faith in God first and foremost, but also in people with desires to make a difference. You too can be a part of this army for PTSD advocacy and support. Join me in the quest to lift up people with PTSD as well as their families and friends.
I will continue to do my research on PTSD and share as much knowledge and resources I can. One resource I am happy to be a part of is this website, www.ptsdchat.org. PTSD Chat is a worldwide community. You can be a part of PTSD Chat by sharing its blog articles, signing up for the newsletter or contributing as a writer. I am just one person. I am, however, strong with the help of my supportive family and friends, both virtual and in the physical. Help us share hope and encouragement during this important PTSD Awareness Month.