PTSD Awareness Day was established in 2010, to be observed on the 27th of June each year. I discovered this factoid on the 28th of June 2017. I’m not sure how I didn’t know this except to say I didn’t even realize I had PTSD until 2016 (which will henceforth be known as The Crazy Year). Not much of an excuse but I already feel like an ass for not knowing on the actual day so shut it.
Why June 27
National PTSD Awareness Day was established by the United States Senate in 2010 in response to Senator Kent Conrad’s request to honour Army Staff Sgt. Joe Biel, who’d served two tours overseas and returned from the Middle East with PTSD; he ended his life in April, 2007. June 27 was chosen to honour his memory and bring awareness of PTSD because it was Biel’s birthday.
Who Can Get PTSD
The easy answer here is “Anyone.” because PTSD is caused by external trauma or violence and no two people deal with situations the same. When it was originally identified, it was thought to be something exclusive to the military because of the things our servicemen saw overseas during World War One. It was the British who first saw the highest number of cases that defined “shell shock” or “shell concussion” with erratic behaviour, selective mutism, and acting as though in a terrifying fog.
It wasn’t until after the Vietnam War that we began to identify Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and to learn how to treat the disorder. Most research is still being done on adults whereas children are thought to have a lower chance of developing PTSD. And while many cases of PTSD are un-reported or mis-diagnosed, there are still millions of people who suffer. According to PTSD United, 20% of American adults develop PTSD after a traumatic event, such as violence, domestic abuse, natural disaster survivor,
What Are The Symptoms
Much like trying to identify who will develop PTSD, you cannot put the symptoms into a box and check them off. Each person experiences their disease differently. I can say that when I’m having an episode, I experience flashbacks with physical sensation, night terrors, sleep paralysis, and feeling like the world is moving at twenty-five thousand miles per hour and I’m trying to walk up a 90 degree angle through molasses up to my chest. (It’s a visual aid, people … get your mind out of the gutter!)
Sometimes, I’ll break into tears for absolutely no reason. Once, I cried for a solid hour because I put my flip-flop on to go out to dinner. Yep … complete breakdown … snot bubbles, tears, heart rate up over 90 (my resting heart rate is around 45bpm) and blood pressure somewhere near Jupiter. And there was nothing anyone could do about it. It just … was. Until I sought counseling and was diagnosed properly. Sometimes, even just being in large crowds of people will start to make me feel claustrophobic. And then I just wig out. That’s fun, let me tell you. It’s extra awesome when it happens at the grocery store and all the hillbillies are starin’.
Other people have other triggers and responses. Sometimes, we don’t even know what our triggers are. Please be patient with us as we try to figure out our new normal.
How To Help
First and foremost, establish before you find yourself in a situation where someone is having an episode, how they prefer to be treated. Some of us are very hands-off; don’t touch me, don’t try to comfort me, and for the love of Cheese and Sausage, don’t ask me what I want. If I get up to leave the room, don’t follow me. If I sit where I am, please just turn the TV down and let me have a minute of silence. Sometimes that’s all it takes … other times, I have to go to another room so I can get out of my head and silence the intrusive thoughts.
If your person prefers physical contact, go for it … hug, pet, kiss, hold hands … whatever it is, you do it. And you do it excellently. Just not with me. I bite.
Sometimes, we can’t help ourselves and we rely on our careperson to identify what’s going on and what the best course of action could be.
So, it’s in my phone now so I’ll remember next year but reaching out to someone you know suffers from PTSD isn’t limited to just today.
D. Jordan Padrona
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