Not Just Soldiers
I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it you don’t have to be a soldier to develop PTSD there’s a long list of things that can cause PTSD combat is just one of them we also have witnessing death or injury, sexual assault, accidents like car crash, natural disasters, child sexual abuse and in my case physical assault. It’s a very soldier focused illness because soldiers are more likely to develop PTSD but it doesn’t make one more severe than the other.
When I was first diagnosed with PTSD my first question was
“are you sure ?” and they were I didn’t know myself the full extent of the illness because at the time I wasn’t experiencing all of it and a lot of what I was experiencing just seemed like an inconvenience more than an illness unable to sleep, unable to focus I couldn’t do any of my uni work. Feelings of guilt were quite regular the flashbacks weren’t as strong but over time my PTSD has gone untreated and I’ve had nothing to anchor myself I started to experience the anger ,self destruction , nightmares , bad memory and some of these are only rearing their ugly heads little by little and it’s horrible but I’m coping.
See there’s already a stigma attached to mental illness I can’t describe how hard it is to live with an illness that everyone thinks you couldn’t possibly have because you haven’t been in combat or in a war zone of any kind. My first thought when ever telling someone is that they’re going to assume I’m lying or they’re going to accuse me of lying as soon as they find out I wasn’t a soldier.
Now when I say physical assault in my case I don’t just mean one assault first I was assaulted in broad day light in a busy street loads of people and I got assaulted by 5 people the physical pain wasn’t so bad. The second was a week or so later I was revisiting where I got assaulted because I thought it might bring some closure on the bus back I got verbally abused and then physically assaulted as the guy tried to steal my phone. When I got hope after that I just broke down no where felt safe any more I didn’t trust anyone I couldn’t trust anyone.
Soon after I just shut myself away threw myself into volunteer work which was difficult but I did really well all my friends were off to uni and I felt isolated until I decided to apply, I have a history for being the latest applicant in the world or I should by now and after a few weeks of stressful paper work I was off to Sunderland uni where I would pass two modules out of six. I repeated the year living in accommodation nearby and only managed to pass one more module. I gained a lot of skills, a lot of experience but that’s when PTSD decided to take its hold on me. I had a tutor who was really great really understanding and she did everything she could to get me focused and doing work and I was just unable to. I have to go back some day and finish off my course I don’t know if I can I don’t feel that I can right now.
The stigma is something all those suffering from depression, anxiety and other disorders and mental illness have to deal with. Let’s face it no one wants to sound crazy or seem crazy because those with depression or anxiety a lot of us don’t want to make a big deal about it because we know we’re going to get told to just cheer up or just calm down. I myself have gotten into the worst sleeping pattern possible it’s becoming impossible just to function as a human being now ask yourself is telling me to go to bed earlier going to help? No of course not because it would be just 5 hours looking up at my ceiling so I try to be active and do things in that time while I figure out what’s going to fix me.
The Stigma itself from the point of view of someone with depression is mostly our unhelpful thoughts sometimes assuming people won’t understand can be your worst mistake however sometimes they don’t and they tell you to cheer up , clam down or get an early night and it’s just laughable. We all want to be happy and live happy lives but some of us can’t just conjure happiness out of no where Stop thinking about polar bears Ice skating on the moon right now! Did you manage it ? Most of you probably not and that’s what those with anxiety get met with “No Need to be anxious” , “stop worrying”, “stop thinking about it” and it’s no ones fault really saying that to someone with an anxiety disorder isn’t going to help them it’s going to make them more anxious. I don’t get asked this often enough and I don’t think anyone does when they tell someone they have a mental illness or disorder , but the best thing you can say would be “Is there anything I could do to help?” because one thing we all feel is pressure and the one thing we all crave is release from that pressure. Show the person that you care and you want to understand how they’re feeling if you really want to help that is. Even my best friends just leave me with a solid “man that sucks :/” and it just get’s left like that for a good while because either they’re going through similar things . It’s not because they’re mean or they don’t understand my situation because really they get it but they also know there’s not a lot they can do about it or for me.
I’m Liam I’ve been living with PTSD for nearly 3 years now , I’m learning as much as I can about the illness and blogging about it and how its affecting my life on a day to day basis. I love video games I’m a PC gamer myself and I try to use gaming metaphors to get my point across to motivate and to help people. If you read my blog let me know what you think I want to know if I could do better if I’m doing anything wrong and occasionally if I’ve done something right that as well.
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