PTSD is a family injury. It is not something just one person in the family goes through. Everything has ripple effects and when one person “changes” in a family unit, it changes the whole family. Sometimes this is the first sign that PTSD has hit your household. Sometimes seeing the behavioral changes in your children are the first signs that people will admit there’s a problem. It’s one thing if I am suffering; I am a doctor, Veteran, first responder, therapist, nurse, etc; I can handle it and I know I may see and hear things that will affect me. But I don’t want my children suffering. I don’t want other people to be hurting, especially if I can do something about it. So when people notice the behavioral changes in their children, often this gives them the kick start they need to get into therapy and start working on themselves.
What if you could prevent your children from regressing to bedwetting, temper tantrums, and the like? What if you could prevent your children from angry outbursts or not wanting to leave your side (separation anxiety)? What if you could prevent you and your significant other from arguing over stupid little things that shouldn’t matter? What if you could prevent PTSD from becoming a family illness? What would that mean to you? Would you keep your family together? Continue to have passion for your job? Continue to do the activities you enjoy? Teach your family how to release tension in a safe, appropriate and healthy manner, thus raising healthy and well-adjusted children? Ask yourself is it worth this internal war that even if it is only internal now, will not be able to stay internal forever? Is it worth my life and my family’s life to go on this way?
Events that we go through day to day will have an impact on us. No matter how small the event is. So when your day consists of witnessing traumas (whether in person or by listening to other recount the traumas), it will have a significant impact on you. This is normal. It is ok. You are not sick or crazy or weak or incapable. You are normal. Your reactions, your emotional state of being, your numbness, crying episodes, nightmares, superimposing your family onto the situations you’ve witnessed, anger, all of this is normal. What makes you the strong one is you are learning about PTSD, what its symptoms are, why you’re having these symptoms, and learning that PTSD is not a weakness. This information is the beginning to understanding what to do about this debilitating (and not necessarily permanent) brain injury. Once a cluster of symptoms is known and has a name, it is no longer as scary and one can start fighting back.
Just last week I spoke with a firefighter who was diagnosed with PTSD 17 years ago. He is an amazing human being and has come so far in his recovery. However, one thing stood out to me tremendously. He said “Here I am, America’s greatest, and I’m curled up on the floor crying like a baby.” If only he had understood so many years prior to being diagnosed what was happening in his brain, how much of his suffering could have been avoided? Getting the word out there, breaking down the stigmas that “America’s greatest” will not have lasting effects, and increasing awareness that they are human beings like everyone else could prevent PTSD from ravaging their households, and keep them strong leaders in our country, in your state, in your city or town, in your neighborhood.
June is PTSD awareness month. Today is the last day of the month. My blogs this month have had to do with raising awareness about PTSD. This campaign should not stop just because we are at the end of national PTSD awareness month. What are you willing to do to continue raising awareness that PTSD is a brain injury, not a “disorder” and your symptoms are normal to the events you are dealing with on a daily basis? Comment below or send me an email. I’d love to hear your responses! firstname.lastname@example.org.