You Don’t Have to Suffer Alone: Healing from Trauma and Understanding PTSD
Advocating for PTSD awareness is something I’m particularly passionate about. Partly because it’s something I deal with in my personal life, but mostly because I suffered with it alone for many years without realizing – as I believe many people do.
I think PTSD is misunderstood by most simply because it is not talked about enough. I believe the main misconception is that only war veterans are in danger of dealing with it and the most commonly known symptoms are outbursts of anger and intense visual flashbacks. Whereas in reality, PTSD does not discriminate, and anyone, in any walk of life, can develop this disorder after experiencing a traumatic event.
Similarly, it is important to remember that all individuals react to trauma differently and therefore PTSD can look tremendously different from one person to the next. For example, uncontrollable anger is a well-known symptom but for me personally, I cannot express this anger outwardly – it is turned inwards and taken out on myself and therefore makes it extremely hard for others to see.
VProud has recently created a wonderful video talking about the signs and symptoms of PTSD where a lot of the common myths are talked about. Licensed mental health professional Kim Ahearn Young mentions other lesser-known symptoms to look out for, such as sleep disturbance, avoidance, and isolation.
It is because of the misconceptions surrounding PTSD that I did not even consider this was what I was suffering with for a long time. The cause for my PTSD is believed to be long term childhood abuse, however I initially had no idea that this could be seen as a trauma or that it could possibly lead to PTSD later in life. Couple this with the fact that abuse and trauma survivors often attempt to deny what happened – or, in some cases, lie to themselves for so long they begin to believe those lies – and it is no wonder it took me so long to begin to understand what I was dealing with! For a long time it was too hard to accept what had happened and for even longer I was convinced that what I had been through wasn't “bad” enough to cause PTSD. This shame over my past and the way I was feeling is actually another lesser known symptom of PTSD.
If I can leave you with anything it is to remember that trauma can take many forms and that you should never be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. It is also important to remember that your loved one may truthfully not be aware of what is happening; sometimes it is too hard for us to see it ourselves. Therefore it is imperative that we all educate ourselves on the warning signs so we know how to help those who may not know how to help themselves yet. A little encouragement to get help can make all the difference: the sooner we start recovery, the sooner we begin to feel better. Today is Veterans Day which means there is no better time to start learning about PTSD and how to spread awareness.
Take care of yourselves and each other,
My name’s Emma Wicks, I’m 27 and live in the South of England. I grew up as a professional swimmer before going to university and discovering my love for psychology. I now work as a support worker and spend a lot of time on mental health advocacy. I run a mental health and LGBTQ focused YouTube channel and do some art work and writing when I get the time!