April 30, 2023
Email alerts on #PTSD fill up a good chunk of my day. Most of the time, I’ll read the articles and get depressed. Not for the reason you may think. It isn’t because there are so many, but more because there are far too many proving we have not come far enough on the healing side.
These are just a few of the headlines that came in this morning.
“Art for Healing” Exhibition on display through May to benefit PTSD Foundation of America
It is not for everyone with PTSD. It is for veterans and families. Nothing wrong with that since we all know they not only need help, they earned whatever this country can do for them. As a reminder, that would include my husband, and me as his spouse. It would not include me as a survivor in my own life.
Omaha gym hosting yoga classes to ease PTSD for veterans, first responders
Also not for everyone with PTSD. Just veterans and first responders, and yet again, they not only need help, they earned it. The thing is, as the number of civilians joining the club no one wants to belong to grows every year, no one notices that while we paid the price of joining too, we are not welcomed in on any of these efforts.
The rest of them were along the same lines. The rest of us were not included and that was what depressed me most of all while reading about Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike Day. He was a hero, for sure. This is what Ken McDonald wrote about him.
Day spent the next six months recovering at Walter Reed, and when we all returned to the Naval Amphibious Base, in Little Creek, Va. in the fall, he received the Silver Star for “conspicuous gallantry in combat” at an award ceremony attended by just about every one of his Naval Special Warfare brothers and sisters in-port at the time. The ceremony was surreal. Many teammates were killed in action on that deployment and the memories were horribly fresh. But standing in front of them was a guy who had no business coming home. A walking miracle. A hero amongst heroes; reminding them that they survived.
He didn’t stop trying to make a difference in this world.
He went on to retire from the Navy in 2008 and was unsurprisingly diagnosed with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. He wrote a book about the experience; Perfectly Wounded: A Memoir About What Happens After a Miracle and worked as an advocate for wounded service members and those suffering with PTSD. Mike Day hanged himself on March 27.
At the end of the article, he wrote this.
I don’t know what needs to be done to make real change, but I’m going to do whatever I can to help. You should, too. Start by doing a buddy check. Make sure they’re okay. Be intrusive. Be a haunt. Be the non-judgmental support network they need. We’ll figure out the rest along the way. The most important and difficult part of recovery is getting on the path. Get them on it. I’ll see you there.
The answer to what needs to be done is not what you expect. The answer is in what unites all survivors. Why? You may be thinking they deserve special treatment. I totally agree with you. You may think they deserved whatever we can do. I agree with that too. What I don’t agree with is not telling the people facing multiple traumatic events as part of the jobs they are willing to do, there are millions of us with PTSD after just one event. This is from The National Center For PTSD
Here are the best estimates for how common PTSD is in the U.S. adult population:
Most people who go through a traumatic event will not develop PTSD.
About 6 out of every 100 people (or 6% of the U.S. population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives. Many people who have PTSD will recover and no longer meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD after treatment. So, this number counts people who have PTSD at any point in their life, even if their symptoms go away.
About 5 out of every 100 adults (or 5%) in the U.S. has PTSD in any given year. In 2020, about 13 million Americans had PTSD.
Women are more likely to develop PTSD than men. About 8 of every 100 women (or 8%) and 4 of every 100 men (or 4%) will have PTSD at some point in their life. This is in part due to the types of traumatic events that women are more likely to experience—such as sexual assault—compared to men.
Veterans are more likely to have PTSD than civilians. Veterans who deployed to a war zone are also more likely to have PTSD than those who did not deploy.
When we leave that information out of the conversation, the result is a deadly one. Leaving us out of the conversation, and efforts leave us feeling as if we don’t deserve help to heal. Even if we did, finding it is difficult. There are not enough mental health professionals as it is. Charities that could help won’t because they have no idea we’re out here or how many of us there are. The ones established to take care of veterans and first responders don’t have room for us.
While all this has been bad for us when the veterans and first responders have no clue we exist, they are robbed of the best form of healing they could ever have. These men and women were willing to die for the sake of others. They’d be willing to help us more than they are willing to help themselves. In the process, it would give them a better understanding as to why they suffer from multiple traumas when we are changed by all too often, just one of them.
Right now, they still don’t think they deserve help. They still think they should be stronger and see it as a weakness. No matter how many suicide awareness events happen around the country, the event that needs to happen is a survivor event where veterans can meet survivors of all other events. Let them hear our stories of the trauma and what worked to help us heal. If we share the journey from victim to survivor with them, they will see themselves through different eyes!
Kathie Costos Author of Ministers Of The Mystery Series