Today is National PTSD Awareness day. I would assume that a large majority of people aren't even aware of this fact. However, my those of us who live with it everyday we are very well aware of it. PTSD is not easy, but it is something we can live through and with if we just take it one day at a time. I know that sounds really cliche to just take it one day at a time, but it really does work. With the 4th of July approaching my husband's nervousness is coming out. I would say that his PTSD is very different than most Veteran's in that he doesn't really have many nightmares about war as much as he does about his company which was very abusive towards him. He was a great soldier and the leadership in his company was beyond horrible. A lot of his PTSD stems from trust issues because of them which has also boiled over into his life. I don't know that he trusts anyone 100% including me.
PTSD manifests itself differently in every person that has it and it is not something that is specific to war veterans. Anyone can have PTSD due to multiple things. I personally have some from when I was a child and someone tried to kidnap me. I do not like being outside late at night in the dark. Luckily during that incident my parents were nearby and took care of the situation but it was really creepy none the less and something I have never forgotten. I also have some secondary PTSD due to my husband's own issues with his and me trying to protect him as much as I can. When you are totally surrounded by something like PTSD you naturally adapt and take on some of the characteristics of it yourself. I think that is pretty much unavoidable. If you ask an adult daughter or son of a Vietnam Veteran I am sure they would speak of many stories where they were impacted by living with someone suffering from PTSD.
I often worry how this will effect our own children and though they are young now (5 and 1) I know they will not always be and someday they will understand all too well what is going on. PTSD does not make their father crazy or a monster or someone to fear. It is a normal response to an abnormal situation. If you went off to war and came back you would have some level of PTSD too. You can't live in that kind of situation or environment and not have some sort of stress related to it. So many of our troops are coming home with PTSD and left untreated it can have some devastating effects. We have actually lost more Veterans to suicide than to the battlefield itself. If that doesn't speak volumes I don't know what does. The truth is there is still a huge stigma attached to PTSD. Until we start treating this as a normal response to a traumatic situation the stigma will remain. I think education is the key to beating the stigma along with action.
If you know a Veteran or someone else with PTSD, don't be so quick to judge them and decide they are crazy, but rather support them and let them know you CARE. If we had more people reaching out to our Veterans and letting them know they matter and that someone does care I think that would make a big difference. Unfortunately the truth is the US is tired of hearing about these wars and they are burnt out on supporting our troops for the most part. I hardly see anything in the news anymore about our service members and it saddens me that they have become a lost priority among the American people. After all freedom is NOT free, but how do we remind people of that again? Today and every day I think about PTSD and hope that if even one person reads this and it makes a difference than I have done something right.