A lot of heroes carry with them invisible wounds of combat. When they return from war, they aren’t given the same deference as others with physical scars, and they’re expected to fit right back into the social fold, without acknowledgement of their personal sacrifice. Heroes with PTSD will beat themselves up for not being able to do this, aggravating their symptoms, which leads to failing to ask for help and sinking deeper into crisis.
People should be aware that PTSD is not evidence of weakness. It is evidence of the greatest gift we can give. As PTSD educator and advocate, David J. Brock as put it, “It’s a battle scar earned in combat performing the greatest act of love putting others before self.” Brock, a special forces veteran, is a valuable voice in educating people about the realities of PTSD. There are misconceptions that people with PTSD are dangerous, volatile, and shiftless. That they are weak, and should just be able to “get over it.” Even when people do get help, their loved ones might not realize that PTSD is going to be a permanent etching on the wounded person’s nervous system, and may have unrealistic expectations for them to just “get better.” Brock says, “PTSD can be managed, if we can get help to those who need it. If we can show those that PTSD is NOT a weakness.”
I am not a veteran, technically, but I do have PTSD as a result of working on an academic project funded by the Department of Defense. I have watched a lot of death, violent and horrific, so much so that my brain no longer identifies that I’m watching death happen on a screen, and it thinks I’m seeing it happen right in front of me (secondary trauma). Maybe I’ll speak more about my experience at a later date, but for now you can go to my personal page on my security research for details.
Not all people in the military have PTSD, and not all people who have PTSD are in the military. Lady Gaga has been an important voice in this respect, which only helps with getting out awareness and information about PTSD and about people who have it.
People who have PTSD are wounded, and have scars. But, I hold onto Brock’s insight about PTSD because it resonates so clearly in my heart: At its core, PTSD is evidence of our capacity for love.
- David J. Brock’s page. You can find him on Twitter as PTSDDaddy.
- National Center for PTSD
- PTSD Info
- National Suicide Lifeline – 24 hour support 1800-273-8255