Stigma

There is a stigma attached to those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It is not an opinion, not an observation, I find it firmly based in fact. Mental health as a whole seems to have a firm stigma related to it. Prior to being diagnosed, I honestly do not think that I had an opinion on mental health.  It just was not relevant to me.  Now that I am on a different side of the fence, my opinion has obviously changed and it is constantly evolving as I learn more.  According to what I learned from my experiences and also according to the government website I am quoting “PTSD is marked by clear biological changes as well as psychological symptoms. PTSD is complicated by the fact that people with PTSD often may develop additional disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health. The disorder is also associated with impairment of the person’s ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.1

There is not one of these that I have not or am not dealing with.  I also have been diagnosed with depression, I have abused alcohol, I have memory problems (some days I have the memory of a goldfish) and the last sentence all applies to me.  All of that last sentence.  But most importantly, reread that first sentence.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is marked by clear biological changes.  I have learned that it rewrites the pathways in your brain.  In many more ways than I could try and explain.  A therapist that I see at the VA hospital explained it as a truck parking in a dirt driveway.  You have parked there so many times, you make some ruts and your car easily parks there every time.  These are your normal brain pathways.  Then it rains and you park your car.  You make new ruts in the driveway and you can no longer park in those old ruts.  Only the new ones.  That is PTSD rewriting your brains pathways.

It was one of the simplest explanations I had heard and hopefully, I retold it in a way that made sense to you. I am choosing not to get into the highly technical side of things because I am not an expert in any of this and I am not exactly willing to fill up this blog with science
.  It was never my favorite subject. My intent of all of this explaining is to talk about why I do not think there should be a stigma associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It is the fault of no one.  Nobody asks for it.  Nobody just “gets it,” they suffer a traumatic event which chemically changes their brain.  It is not our fault, so why judge us like it is our fault.  That is what makes no sense to me.  Why should I, or someone else with PTSD be punished, ostracized or judged for something we did not ask for.

What are your opinions and your stance on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and mental illness?  I’m interested to know.

1 – http://www.ptsd.ne.gov/what-is-ptsd.html

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