I am going to say sorry in advance here. I am feeling a bit b**hy because of a few comments made about PTSD in general while I was speaking to a group. I couldn’t do a PTSD rant there so I decided to do one here.
Having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder feels a bit like living in a glass house and everywhere you can see there is someone standing there ready and just waiting to throw huge rocks in to your home. They may have been standing there for 6 months or 6 years but that feeling of being under attack or in imminent danger never goes away. It doesn’t matter how comfortable you make your glass house. No one cares if the lights are on or off. You can put blinds up all over the place but you will still know that you are surrounded and anything could happen at any time.
Making it even worse?
Those helpful sorts that remind us of those who have it worse. OTHER glass houses have 50 people holding rocks. Yours only has 30.
Or the well-meaning people who say we should be grateful for what we have. Your glass house may shatter at any second and everything you’ve worked for can be destroyed but for right now? Be grateful for it all.
We are not ungrateful. We are just struggling.
How about the exceptionally considerate lines of “Just leave the past in the past.” “Forget about it.” or “Move on.” Sometimes I want to act like a snarly b**ch and say “What a GREAT idea! I never thought of that! Just forget it and move on. Thank you! My life is forever changed. I will just forget that my beautiful glass house is surrounded by danger at every second of every day and I will move past it.
What I think many people do not really understand is that people with PTSD didn’t buy that glass house. We were not asked if we liked it or if we wanted to live there. We were just thrown in and told to deal with it. We did not choose to decorate the borders of our scary glass homes with rock wielding thugs. They just arrived there and won’t be told to go away. They stand their ground no matter how nicely we ask them to leave or how strong we get and attempt to push them away. They just come back. We did not choose to be unprotected or feel vulnerable. Being forced to live in our glass house made us that way. Who one earth would feel safe there? At no time did we deserve to be relegated to that glass house or surrounded by fears. We did absolutely nothing to deserve that. All we can do is try to live with it.
If you really want to be helpful? Why don’t you come over and visit us. Help us make a plan that will help us. Maybe you can help us build a big wall that the rocks could never get over? Maybe even paint the wall so the view from the house would be nicer. You can’t do a thing about the glass house. It will always be there but you can help make life in the glass house more tolerable.
No one ever chooses to have PTSD and if asked? I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t happily hand it back. It is really no different from any serious ailment. No one chooses to have it. That said? No one would ever tell someone with diabetes to just think happy thoughts. Someone with no leg would never be asked to just forget about it and walk onwards without it. A cancer diagnoses is never greeted with a “you just can’t let it go can you?”.
Am I being a bit harsh when I compare PTSD to cancer, losing a leg, or having diabetes? Maybe. That said? The rate of deaths within the PTSD community are very high and steadily getting worse. Some professionals that I have heard giving talks have gone so far as to say they believe that PTSD should be considered a fatal disease if it is not treated properly. That is pretty darn serious. Add in the rates of people with PTSD that can no longer work, then add depression or other co-morbid disorders that commonly “buddy up” with PTSD, the higher than average divorce rates, the crippling anxiety, and all the medical costs associated with trying to care for people who have not been given the proper treatment? We have one serious issue going on there don’t we?
- We did not choose PTSD.
- We do not choose to have flashbacks during the day.
- We do not go to bed hoping for terrifying nightmares.
- We do not ask for intrusive thoughts.
- We do not want to be triggered by seemingly insignificant things.
- We do not enjoy feeling unsafe almost everywhere we go, even at home.
- We do not like the rage we feel. It scares us.
- We do not like many of the medications offered. Some work. Some don’t. Some have horrible side effects. NONE of them cure our PTSD.
- More than anything? We do not like being blamed for our disease. It chose us. Not the other way around.