The Other PTSD
Most of us are familiar with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). Many of us relate it to our veterans after a war, but what is not as widely known is that there is another PTSD, non-combat PTSD.
Non-combat PTSD happens when someone experiences some type of trauma. “A trauma is a shocking and dangerous event that you see or that happens to you” according to the National Center for PTSD. Going through a trauma is not as rare as you would think. 61% of men and 51% of women experience a trauma in his or her lifetime. It is said that 7-8% of people will develop PTSD because of trauma.
There are many different traumatic events that may cause someone to develop PTSD that is non-military related. Sexual assault, domestic violence, natural disasters, and violent crimes just to name a few. Some may have PTSD and not even know it.
While living overseas, my daughters and I were victims of a violent crime, and I had no idea that what we were feeling after was PTSD. I thought it was only something our soldiers got.
Once we were properly diagnosed and I was aware of the symptoms, it was much easier to understand and deal with.
Being aware of these symptoms is key. There are several types of PTSD symptoms one may experience including:
Reliving the traumatic event
In my opinion, this is one of the hardest symptoms. No one wants to remember bad things that have happened to them, and when it is something constantly on your mind, or you have flashbacks without warning, it feels like your mind is a CD stuck on repeat. Then there are the nightmares. Not everyone experiences these symptoms, and some experience less than others.
Another symptom is avoiding people or places that you may associate with the trauma. One may also avoid his or her own feelings by becoming emotionally numb. One thing is for sure, if you don’t deal with what happened and what you are feeling, it will become much worse and have a negative impact on your life.
Hyperarousal can cause one to become irritable and angry. Sleep problems can develop, and aggressive and self-destructive behavior. Feeling jumpy or startling easy is something I feel much of the time. I think the worst for me was feeling I needed to be on high alert all the time. If one of my daughters was a few minutes late and I couldn’t get a hold of them, I would immediately think something happened to them.
Negative thoughts and changes in mood.
For me, this was one of the worst aspects of PTSD. Guilt, shame, and self-blame can wreak havoc on one’s soul. As a mother, knowing I couldn’t protect my daughters has been the hardest part to deal with.
The inability to trust has caused me to be very guarded. I don’t open up easily to others, and it takes me a long time to let people know me now. As you can imagine, all of this can leave one with the inability to concentrate and can cause depression and anxiety.
I know this all sounds incredibly ominous, but the thing is, with proper help, you can overcome PTSD. If you only remember one thing, remember this. Get help and get help early. Although I was diagnosed, I waited to get myself treatment. I spent a lot of time ignoring what I was feeling, and I wasted a lot of time instead of being happy.
With proper help, PTSD can be cured. It doesn’t have to be a life sentence. If you feel you or someone you love may be suffering from PTSD, get help. Here are some numbers that can be very useful:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAIN) (24 Hours) 1.800.656.4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.7233
You can also contact your primary care doctor to aid you in finding a counselor who specialized in treating PTSD.
I know how hard it can be to reach out for help. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are alone in something like this, and how isolating it can feel. You are not alone, and there is hope.