The PTSD coin — found on the right side of the homepage on this website, says “injured not weak … hurt not broken.” Sometimes, you might find yourself needing a reminder that PTSD doesn’t have to claim the better times of your entire life. It doesn’t have to define you.
This is all despite what many parts of the world and the media would have you believe. Right now, mental healthcare is overcoming years and years of stigma that have devalued its importance, as well as social and cultural barriers to overall effectiveness. You may have to fight back against some of those negative voices. Here are some reminders that your case isn’t hopeless. The things that happened to you are not your fault and neither is the way your brain reacts. Remember these things and hold onto hope.
You Are Not Alone
A common, often condescending misconception is that primarily war veterans have PTSD, even though there’s been very little work done to help vets suffering from PTSD. No, PTSD doesn’t apply to primarily veterans. As Judith Bentkover of Brown University School of Public Health put it best in an interview with Bradley University:
““Kids have PTSD. Women have PTSD. [PTSD is] not just a disease of veterans, although they are a very important and poignant cohort of people who have it. Sexual assault victims, abused children and survivors of natural disasters do not necessarily have a VA to go to. What do they do?”
The truth is that people from all different walks of life have experienced tragedy and their brains have reacted in the same way.
You didn’t choose for this to happen to you, and you’re certainly not the only one to suffer. Communities like #PTSDchat, PTSD United, and HealthfulChat Chat Rooms exist to let you know that you’re not only not alone but that your story isn’t over yet. You’re not walking this journey by yourself, so find some solace in that today.
You Are Not Helpless or Crazy
More work is done on PTSD all the time. People are individuals, and just because something that worked for someone else isn’t working for you doesn’t mean that nothing will. Research is still being done and new findings about the mental illness is pushing for innovative ways to handle it and hopefully get closer to conquering it on a widespread scale.
For instance, unconventional methods such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and emotional freedom technique (EFT) are becoming more popular in handling PTSD. These are sometimes treatments that have been around for a long time but are just now being researched thoroughly. The more progression we may find with those methods, the more we’ll learn about treating PTSD as a whole.
Action Can Be Taken
There are both professional actions that can be taken as well as some things you can do your own to empower yourself against the shackles of PTSD. Don’t worry, hope is not lost — not by a long shot.
While medical options should be left between your doctor and you, trauma-focused psychotherapy has been known to help and may better to try before switching to medication that change your brain and body chemistry. For instance, written narrative exposure, a type of psychotherapy in which a patient writes about their trauma, has sometimes been known to empty the writer’s brain of their trauma by putting it elsewhere, in a matter of clumsy words.
Additionally, you may find you can eliminate stress in your day to day life. Limiting your interactions with stressful people and situations, avoiding triggers, and treating your body well (nutritious meals, fitness and exercise) are all ways to avoid putting your body and mind in a dangerous place for PTSD to take its foothold. Not all of this is something you have control over of course, but it is something you can be mindful of and may be helpful for a time.
You aren’t hopeless — in fact, far from it. What are ways you’ve been able to reclaim stability and control back from your PTSD? Let us know in the comments below.