Some of us have had some quite unlucky and downright traumatic experiences in our lives. I know that I have, and because of these experiences, I have developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and have had to learn to live with this mental health condition.
Quite honestly, there have been times that I have just wanted to crawl back into bed and not deal with what the day has in store for me because I have been in such a triggered state. But, life doesn't work like that, and I have had to learn how to manage times when I get triggered and learn how to bring myself down from a seven on the Richter scale of a total PTSD meltdown. (Which, is not an easy thing to do, by the way, so I'm proud of myself for how well I've been coping with all of this.)
With that being said, if your PTSD looks anything like mine, (and, PTSD looks different for everyone who has it), here is a list of 11 things that someone with PTSD wants their friends and loved ones to know.
1. I rationally know that right now I'm OK, but, I don't feel OK.
Please understand that it's nothing you said or did that set me off into a triggered state, and I rationally know that I'm OK and that I'm safe, but right now, my brain is telling me the exact opposite.
2. Please be patient with me, I'm trying my best.
Right now, I might seem like I'm a million miles away, but I can promise you, I'm trying my best to calm myself down and get myself back to a good place.
3. I know my triggers, and I know my limits. Please don't test them.
When I tell you that something is triggering for me, please respect that and try to understand what I might be dealing with at the moment.
4. I know how to take care of myself in these moments, but if I need your help, I'll ask.
5. When you make a joke about "being triggered," it might sound harmless to you, but it's hurtful to me.
Please think about what you say before you say something like that.
6. Not everyone who has PTSD reacts the same way, our brains have all been traumatized differently.
Just because you hear that someone has PTSD, doesn't automatically mean this person will fly off the handle or become engulfed with rage. Different people handle trauma differently, so please don't stereotype everyone with this diagnosis.
7. I'm perfectly fine at least 80 percent of the time, but the 20 percent that I'm not still matters.
This one is specific to me and how I have been dealing with my PTSD, but honestly, whatever the ratio of "I'm fine to I'm not OK" time is for someone, it's important to remember that both of those numbers matter.
8. I would like to be given a fair opportunity in the workplace environment
Again, this is another one that is specific to me and can also be applied in general. I have applied to a job before and been honest about my PTSD diagnosis and was not given a fair opportunity at this place of employment because of that. I personally feel that everyone, regardless of mental health status, should have a right to work where they are qualified.
9. Please don't stereotype me.
Just because I've been diagnosed with PTSD doesn't make me any less capable of fulfilling a job requirement or a task than what anyone else is.
10. PTSD isn't just from combat or war-like situations.
This is a big misconception about the condition. My trauma does not stem from any kind of active-duty situation. It's important to remember that different harsh life circumstances can traumatize people in different ways.
11. Please, please, please don't ask "what happened to you?"
If someone who lives with PTSD trusts you enough and feels that they can talk to you about what they have been through, then they will tell you if, or when, they personally feel ready to. Just like you wouldn't ask someone how much money they make or what they weigh, please have that same kindness in mind and refrain from asking someone with PTSD what they have lived through. Oftentimes, that just re-traumatizes someone, and no one wants that. (That falls into the "think before you speak" category here.)