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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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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To The Girl Who Believes That Feminism Is A Lost Cause: It's Unfortunate You Can't See How Infinitely Capable Women Are

You said I am being too hopeful. You said that there is no point. I say you're wrong.

It was a seemingly boring day. Most of us had just finished our state-based EOC's, but there were bigger fish to fry: Advanced Placement Exams would be starting the following week. These exams would determine whether we got the college credits for the college courses we had been straggling through all year. A group of my female classmates and I were taking a five minute break from studying in our AP U.S. History class when we got into a deep conversation about the Indian culture.

One of my classmates was asking simple questions about what the Indian culture was like; things like marriages, different societal expectations and other cultural differences came about into the conversation.

The conversation eventually moved to focus on education and dream colleges. The girl sitting behind me asked another one of my classmates if she had heard anything from the Emory Summer Program. They started talking about certain residencies they planned on doing, and I tuned out of the conversation.

That was until I heard this: "Did you know they don't bring girls down to see surgery? Only guys."

I turned around, and scoffed.

"Are you serious? Why would they do that?"

They both explained to me that something had happened in which Emory had brought a girl and a guy down to a surgery, but both of them fainted — or at least that's what they heard. The girl sitting behind me went on to say "girls are just more prone to fainting."

What? Listen, I may not be a biology major, but —

"I thought you said the guy fainted too?" I countered. She shrugged her shoulders, and said one sentence:

"It's not like girls can become surgeons anyways."

Seriously? I took a deep breath and said slowly,

"I think girls and guys can both become surgeons regardless of sex. They're both just as capable."

She argued with me that "statistically" guys had more of a chance to become a surgeon. That girls have no chance because universities looked for guys. That not many girls even tried to go the surgery field. She said there was a reason why she chose to not become a surgeon. Again and again, she said that girls had no chance in a male-dominated field.

She insisted that I was being too hopeful. That "realistically" changes in women's rights would not come in our generation but rather in our children's generation. That there was a reason why in history, men were better known than women. That there was a reason why men and women had separate events in athletic competitions.

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. But then again, it made sense, right? The reasons why women still have to fight so hard for things such as equal pay — it's because thoughts like these still plague our society.

I was left speechless. My APUSH teacher appeared from behind me almost two seconds later. He asked her:

"Have you ever heard the story of Billie Jean King? The famous female tennis player who beat a man — I can't remember his name — but he said awful things about women and how weak they were."

She shook her head and stuttered out a "no," and he simply replied,

"It's a really impressive story," before walking away.

So, "statistically," sure, men may dominate the field of surgery. But they also dominate the fields of business (did you know there are only 27 women on the Fortune 500 list?) law enforcement, criminal law, the military or any STEM careers, etc.

This does not mean women are not capable of doing those jobs; it's the part of society that still believes we live in the stone age who thinks women are not capable of arguing in front of a judge or saving someone's life in the ER.

My all-time favorite quote is something my mother said two years ago when Trump won the presidency:

"It's not the women who are not ready for America; it's America who's not ready for the women."

And yes, I am hopeful. I am optimistic. Because so much has changed, but there's still a lot more to do for women. You say that that change cannot come in our generation but rather our children's — that mindset is the reason why we still fall behind today. But let me tell you why you are also wrong. Change has been happening throughout all the generations whether you like it not.

Change occurred in 1800s during Elizabeth Cady Stanton's time when she and hundreds of other women published the "Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen."

Change occurred in the 1900s when Susan B. Anthony and thousands of women fought tirelessly for women's suffrage and won with the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Change has occurred with the recent #MeToo movement, exposing years and years of sexual harassment and rape perpetrators, not just in Hollywood, but in other industries as well.

We can't keep pushing saying that "it's not my issue" or "it'll happen later." We can't keep ignoring the issue; we have to face it and fix it . You said to me that, living in John's Creek, you have never faced sexism in your life, and I envy you for that. That does not mean sexism does not exist.

I pity you for the fact that you remain so close minded about the future of women. Though currently the field of surgery may be male-dominated, there are still women who work in that field. There are women who ignore that fact, study their butts off and work, successfully, as surgeons.

Eventually it comes down to this: you can hide and ignore the issues that beset our community, or you can stand up for yourself and the women around you. Your choice.

But know this: feminism is not a lost cause. I am a woman. I can, and I will.

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