After suffering for over 20 years it is only recently that I can openly say I have PTSD.
My specific condition of PTSD is described as belonging to the medical subset known as complex PTSD or C-PTSD. I continue, to this day, to actively work through my personal traumatic experiences, within medically structured treatment. My treatment started in 1997, and, as often happens in the course of psychological therapy, things in my life got worse first – long before I began to feel any better. I experienced severe emotional breakdown in 2004, and was no longer able to work. I paid for my treatment with funds I had acquired while working full-time, for many years. I gradually went through my life savings, foreclosed on my town home, and could not pay for treatment (while continuing to be a client of therapy) anymore. I am grateful for having a doctor who reached out to me by not giving up on me, and my treatment continued without interruption, and at a substantially reduced rate of pay. As I relay these facts to you, I currently owe over $25,000 in medical fees.
Through the design and sale of my PTSD T-Shirts and Lapel Pin designs, I hope to create awareness for PTSD and allow those suffering with this disorder to connect with others, and discover an interpersonal environment of mutual support.
It is possible to live well again after being wounded by traumatic experiences, and upon seeing others who have been wounded, sometimes to a fatal degree.
One of the most vital needs found in those suffering from PTSD is that of interpersonal compassion, from people to whom one can feel close and safe, and offer emotional, even practical, support during times of pain and struggling. The loved ones of those with PTSD need to become well informed about the causes of trauma-related illnesses. Those valued loved ones who live life alongside the trauma survivor benefit from learning about the course of medical treatment for someone suffering from PTSD, to provide companionship and aid to the survivor, particularly when the wounded person is experiencing difficult days. Perhaps the most important concept for a loved one to know is that the trauma survivor never forgets the trauma he or she sustained. (Forgetting one’s own experiences of traumatic events would be akin to forgetting one’s own name. It is not possible to do so, or highly unlikely to occur, and in fact is an unrealistic expectation.) Instead, what can be achieved with endurance, hard psychological work, competent treatment, and dependable support from others is gradual development of healthy methods for handling the stages one goes through during the process of healing from traumatic events. These developing methods are also referred to as coping mechanisms; it is the application of learned coping mechanisms that create the possibility for a trauma survivor to formulate a true sense of one’s life from the concept of a new reality.
We are active in the Facebook community, and our Facebook page for the PTSD Awareness T-Shirts contain entries by individuals touched by trauma; the most striking aspect on our Facebook page is found in the many heartfelt posts expressed there. These messages let me know, with absolute certainty, that I am not alone in living with PTSD.
I am ‘ok’ openly saying that I live with PTSD. Are you? Do you feel the support and interpersonal acceptance that are necessary for unashamedly revealing you have survived trauma?
All wounds, visible or not, affecting one’s body, mind and/or soul, rightfully deserve appropriate and adequate medical care! Wear your support because PTSD matters!