June Is PTSD Awareness Month

June Is PTSD Awareness Month

PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that stems from a traumatizing event or situation which one encounters. These events can range from assaults, abuse, motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters, to combats. Often the victim is a part of the event or a witness to the situation. Most individuals don’t begin to experience symptoms of PTSD until months after the event occurs. Symptoms include having flashbacks of the event, easily stimulated by daily events, nightmares, panic attacks, self-harm, or sleeping disorders. PTSD is a medical condition which alters the chemistry of the brain and causes it to under produce chemicals that allow the body to relax. It can change the mindset of individuals causing them to be anxious or constantly on edge. It’s estimated that 24.4 million people are diagnosed with PTSD in the United States; that’s equivalent to the population of the state of Texas.

While most commonly thought of as a veteran’s disorder, millions of non-veterans are diagnosed each year with PTSD. Individuals who are victims of rape, physical assault, and other sexual injuries constitute the majority of PTSD victims following veterans. Women are twice as likely to develop PTSD as men, with about one in 10 women being diagnosed at some point in their lifetime. Of the estimated 70 percent of individuals that experience a traumatizing event, approximately 20 percent are diagnosed with PTSD. This disorder can affect all aspects of one’s life including physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

There are a variety of therapies that are available to patients to help them learn to cope with PTSD. Most common is behavioral therapy during which a patient speaks with a trained Psychologist and learns coping strategies. While it is difficult for many to first begin talking about their traumatic event, it often is a means of recovery. Alternative therapies include music and art therapy, which are commonly used among children. Therapists guide their patients towards expressing their emotions through a means that is most comfortable for them. The majority of patients see a decrease in the strength of their symptoms, but many live with the flashbacks of the event for their lifetime.

In 2014, the United States Senate designated June as PTSD Awareness month and June 27th as the official PTSD Awareness Day. Teal ribbons have been used to signify these events. Throughout the month, events are organized all over the country to educate people on the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this disorder. Mental health experts encourage everyone to learn the signs and symptoms of PTSD in order to help identify individuals that may need treatment. Early diagnosis will help decrease the suicide statistic related to PTSD which increased by 50 percent for veterans this past year.

PTSD holds a special place in my life following my diagnosis four years ago. I’ve suffered from survivor’s guilt, nightmares, flashbacks, and panic attacks. There were days where I would not leave my house and refused to eat or drink. I struggled to understand why all of these terrible thoughts were always in my mind and why I couldn’t let go of this one particular event. I eventually began to accept my diagnosis and used my writing as a platform to spread awareness about PTSD.

When I choose to disclose my diagnosis, I often get strange looks from people who don’t realize it’s a disorder that affects those other than veterans. PTSD can affect any individual regardless of age, gender, income, or social class. It often only takes one traumatizing event to alter the course of one’s life. I’ve been blessed with a great support system and therapy regime that has helped me learn to cope, but even four years later I still worry that the event could happen again.

PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of. As it becomes more prevalent in the United States, we need to be educated on ways to help these individuals. Please take a moment to conduct a bit of research into PTSD and learn ways that you can become an advocate for its victims. June is only one month of the year that PTSD victims battle with their disorder. Spreading public awareness will help make the world a more comfortable place for those that have been affected. For more information, please visit the United States Department of Veterans Affairs or Sidran Institute.

Cover Image Credit: Wordpress

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Knowing The Difference Between Redirection And Failure

This difference is everything.

Redirection, by definition means, the action of assigning or directing something to a new or different place or purpose.

Collectively, we know what redirection means in the basic sense of the word. However, when we experience redirection, we often view the situation as a failure or a loss. We as human beings can become easily frustrated or discouraged in seasons of misfortune and perceived failure.

In life, it’s rare that things go according to plan. We don’t get the job we wanted, we graduate college in 6 years not 4, perhaps don’t even finish, plans get cancelled and we disappoint ourselves. Unfortunate scenarios and events occur in everyone’s life, and no one is immune to mishap. So how do we stop viewing these inevitable complications as failure?

First, we must learn to not recognize them as such. Life is not easy and when things don’t work out it doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Often times we’ve just been redirected. We’ve been put on a new path to reach our end goal. This can be a challenging concept to accept at first, we often feel pressure to complete certain tasks in a very specific time frame or order. However, there is no right or wrong order when it comes to living your life. We all experience different events at different ages and each one of us embarks on a different journey to reach our unique end goal.

That being said, it’s common for people to feel that they have failed at a task due to time, specifically lack of time. We feel we weren’t given a fair amount, we miss a deadline or progress takes us longer than projected. Not completing tasks by a deadline can leave us feeling like failures, often times our lack of timeliness results in sanctions from someone who holds more power than we do. The fear of punishment can also manifest the fear of failure. Time is a non-renewable resource we cannot make up for lost time or create extra time for ourselves, but when we fail to meet a deadline it is important we forgive ourselves.

Failure leaves us feeling as if we have limited or no options after. We have exhausted all of our energy and resources into one project ultimately to watch it fail. After experiencing this, it can be hard to become re-inspired and find a new focus, but refocusing can be the best remedy.

Not every failure should be viewed as a loss, some failures provide us with new opportunities and growth, they redirect our lives and put us on the path we are supposed to be on. We will be disappointed and we will be hurt in this life. However, being denied of a job does not mean you’re forever unemployed, it may open new doors, the relationships that you’ve been hurt in can help you grow and prosper with your next partner, and every mistake made is not the end, they may even foster success.

Redirection happens to everybody, no one’s life is perfect or simple, even if it appears that way. As humans, we all struggle and we all feel like giving up at times. Let redirection fuel your next journey and allow your failures to become your inspiration.

Cover Image Credit: Caitlin Rounds

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The Contradiction Of Being "Woke"

Is just saying you're an activist enough?

It's no secret that students everywhere are forming many different opinions on gun violence, among other political issues, and it's important that young people stay involved in the political climate. We are the nation's future. However, as I evaluate the situation, I begin to wonder if just saying you are an activist is actually enough to voice an opinion.

Lately, I've seen countless tweets calling out gun violence in America, and there's a glaring contradiction I see whenever I stumble upon these tweets. On the one hand, I agree with the viewpoint of these young people, and I want to support the aforementioned tweet, however, is tweeting really enough to call yourself an activist?

I don't want to act like the gatekeeper for social issues, but it seems counterintuitive to jump on the bandwagon of BLM or March for Our Lives when in reality, many of the young people tweeting or expressing an opinion online, are really only doing it for the publicity. With the goal of being "#WokeGoals," many young people find themselves forming an opinion that is just an accumulation of what their parents or their favorite celebrity think.

While yes, there is merit in listening to the opinions of others, its beginning to seem like activism is mainstream, and in order to catch the sensationalist wave, many younger people are voicing an opinion for the sole purpose of jumping on that bandwagon.

We are an incredibly vocal younger generation, which is incredible, but more often than not we are preaching to the choir. I highly doubt that a Twitter argument over politics is actually going to change someone's mind, nor do I think that unbridled rage can change the opposing sides mind, however when you tweet, your social circle is going to be the primary audience, and it's more than likely that they already agree with you.

Activism for the sake of change is needed, and important, however in order to achieve the social goals that one claims to support, it is necessary to back that up, and not get swept up in the sensationalism of it all.

Cover Image Credit: webershandwick.com

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