The U.S. Office of Veterans Affairs declares June – that’s this month, which is almost over – as PTSD Awareness Month.
One out of 3 troops returning from deployment are being diagnosed with PTSD, but less than 40% of them seek help. Nearly 2 out of 3 of their marriages are failing. Here is a link to the infographic where this information came from.
PTSD from trauma caused by human beings is the most debilitating. Many veterans wake up from nightmares of overseas conflicts. Some witnesses of the 9-11 disasters, the Oklahoma bombing, and other acts of terrorism also experience intrusive flashbacks that set their adrenal systems off, causing elevated levels of epinephrine and cortisol. These hormones can lead to hypervigilance and numbness. They also can lead to sleep troubles and difficulty with concentration and memory.
Imagine living life with irrational emotions that are out of control. With PTSD and perhaps other mental disorders, the mind would rather not feel at all; so then numbness, withdrawal, and lack of interest sets in. People lose interest in the things they used to enjoy. I even lost interest in motorcycling for a while. Friends and family can get pushed away, especially when a PTSD sufferer feels numb or thinks nobody understands.
Do You Have PTSD? You Are Not Alone
With PTSD, there is often the fear of more trauma, or PTSD’s effects being exacerbated by someone else’s lack of respect. For this, we must draw our own boundaries and find places that feel safe. But that does not mean shut out everyone.
In my new city of residence, I spent my first three months, more or less, locked in my apartment. I didn’t want to meet anyone or talk to anyone. At the first sign of hope in finding a safe connection, I went for it. After carefully choosing where to seek out support, I found a safe group of people at the James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program. This group was among three places where I sought safety among people.
Some of the people involved at the Brady program also have PTSD. And watching the children who receive the benefit of therapeutic riding gives a sense of purpose and sympathy.
In this effort to respect PTSD Awareness Month, I hope this post reaches out.