PTSD Awareness Day: My Journey

Written by: Kaitlyn

I just saw that today is PTSD Awareness Day and I thought that it would be a disservice to this community if I didn't talk about it. 

Because I have PTSD. 

I was unaware that I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for many years, because I was under the impression that it was only something that soldiers dealt with. Seeing as how I have never been in combat, how could I possibly have it? 

It took until I had a physical and mental breakdown a few years ago, for me to finally go back to seeing a therapist. My therapist diagnosed me with PTSD and like I said before, I was pretty confused because I wasn't a veteran. 

Looking back, I realize how ignorant this thought process is, but you tend to be in denial when it comes to your own mental health. The biggest misunderstanding surrounding PTSD is that it only happens to soldiers or veterans that have experienced combat. While this is true and while this remains one of the biggest and ignored health concerns in this country (8 million adults have PTSD in this country alone), soldiers aren't the only ones that experience this mental illness. I don't want to discredit that it happens to these individuals, but it can happen to other individuals as well. All instances are important and should be recognized. 

PTSD can occur whenever someone experiences a traumatic event. For me, these events occurred in my adolescent and teenage years. Considering the actual trauma was over, I figured I didn't have much to worry about anymore. However, the past can literally come back to haunt you and for me, my PTSD comes in the form of triggers that can send me into a hole where I'm trapped in a memory, or just a continuous feeling of self-loathing. 

PTSD is different for everyone and therefore, effective treatment can differ for everyone. I tried EDMR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy for close to a year and it ended up having negative effects. Although it didn't work for me, it could be extremely beneficial for others. At the moment, the most effective treatment for me includes medication, meditation and a strong support system. 

Regardless of what helps you, you should never be afraid to seek treatment. You should never devalue your own emotions or experiences. You are worthy of help. You are worthy of understanding. 

If you are living with PTSD or any other mental health disorder, know that you are not alone. Know that there are people that are here for you and understand you. And together, we can start to change how the rest of the world perceives mental health and end the negative stigma.