Common Misconceptions About PTSD III

mythsIt’s been a month or so since part the second, but that’s only because there’s been some flux in my capacitor lately (read my last post – whew). Back to it, then, shall we?

It’s Only For Military Veterans

Well, that’s just silly. Post-traumatic stress disorder is the result of a psychic injury, an invisible wound, suffered due to a trauma or a series of traumas that involve a serious threat to life (as opposed to the not-so-serious threat to life), perceived as such or otherwise, experienced directly or vicariously. The diagnostic criteria are pretty detailed, sure, and it’s not as simple a thing as feeling scared, but nowhere in the DSM-V does it require a specific vocation, location, or type of injury. Vets tend to get the most press, and that’s not a bad thing per se, however, traumas that wound to this degree are not limited to those in uniform.

Chances are pretty darn good that someone you know has it, which leads me to:

We All Turn Into Grubby Unwashed Alcoholics

When I first put out a call for ideas on this topic, I was rather surprised at not only the number of responses I received but as often who it was replying. That’s on me, that surprise, and, knowing what I do, I shouldn’t have been. Yet, I was, so it’s made its way into this instalment. People are unique, and they have different levels of resiliency. There are many different things at work in each of us that, though an injury has occurred and the disorder has developed because of it, mean not all of us will devolve to the depths that popular media likes to portray us. Some of us do. I certainly did. But there are poets and artists and motivated business people, and moms raising healthy families as well as first responders still out there doing a great job every day who struggle with this.

That Doing work Related To The Trauma Will Trigger or Be Damaging

The person who suggested this one said,

“My work has been profoundly healing to me.”

This idea, I think, deserves much deeper exploration than it will get as one in a short list here because it brings up so many different thoughts and pokes holes in so many other preconceived ideas. As I mentioned above, there are still cops, paramedics, and firefighters with PTSD who put on their uniforms each shift and serve their communities to the best of their abilities, and this is by no means limited to those fine folks. There are heroes in all walks of life doing work others might think impossible for them; Foster carers, social workers, sexual violence councillors, and clinical psychologists. Moms and dads. The thought of stepping into an ambulance again fills me with great dread, but I think, had things have gone differently early in the development of this thing, I might still have short hair and be teaching the new kids the pride I had once (but have found again).

It’s Just an Excuse and They Need to Get Their Shit Together

This one was from a highly educated and experienced therapist who works with a wide number of trauma survivors, but any one of those survivors who’s dealt with the general disregard for invisible injuries so blatant still among “the norms”, despite the great push to destigmatise the thing, could’ve said those exact same words. Most likely, as I have, because they’ve heard them in one form or another from even close friends and family. As I have.

You know what’s an excuse? That is, for ignoring your built-in empathy and falling on convenient thought patterns because it’s too much work to wrap your brain around the simple fact that not everyone is a superhero (and even Iron Man had PTSD). You know who needs to get their shit together? The people who say stuff like this, and actually mean it.

I Know How You Feel

I once had a very good friend, not unsympathetic, and certainly a caring person, say to me, “But everyone has stress at work.” This was an example of someone trying to rationalise my experiences, and my emotions in the way I was trying to explain them, with his own, and it just doesn’t work like that. In fact, you don’t know how I feel and I can say that with some degree of certainty because much of the time even I don’t know. There’s often a conflict between the higher functioning intellectual bits of the 8lb blob in the heads of those with PTSD and the lower, primitive lizard brain that wrests control when triggered. What is happening? Why am I doing this?

This is a platitude, mostly said with all the best intentions but mostly coming across as empty and trite.

Be sure to read Common Misconceptions About PTSD, and Common Misconceptions About PTSD II for more fun myth busting adventures, and watch for the next exciting instalment coming soon.


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One thought on “Common Misconceptions About PTSD III

  1. Thank you for this.. I’ve had complex PTSD for most of my life (childhood trauma) and am still learning how to heal. I’ve noticed that the worst thing about myths is when you yourself believe them, deep down. I rarely talk about this stuff now unless I’m taking with a professional, or a friend in recovery.

    Would you be willing to write a blog on healing modalities that have helped you? I’ve done many years of therapy, EMDR, EBT, 12 Steps, and am now trying Somatic Therapy. All have helped enormously, but there’s no full on cure..

    Liked by 1 person

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