This is me – #FacesOfPTSD

#FacesOfPTSD

#FacesOfPTSD

 

“There is a common misconception in our culture about who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and what it looks like. A quick Google image search will lead you to believe that the majority of those living with PTSD are men in uniform, when the reality is that women are twice as likely to develop it as men, and it can be acquired in a number of ways. Not all wars take place on the battle field.” – Dawn Daum

facesofptsd pic

This is me and today I’m joining other survivors in changing the face of PTSD. You would never know by looking at me that I’m a survivor of sexual abuse or that I have fought my own personal war against PTSD. I spent years feeling ashamed of the way I reacted to certain situations, by how seemingly minor events would trigger painful flashbacks or memories and by my inability to control my physical reactions. By learning how PTSD affects me, I now understand why:

I sometimes feel like I’m in danger when my heart rate increases, even if it’s caused by something as innocuous as exercise.

I feel trapped and panicked when my kids jump on top of me while playing or when they try to hold onto me in the swimming pool.

While I no longer suffer from debilitating night terrors, I can become easily enraged from lack of sleep.

Yoga can feel like torture because it forces me to be aware of my body.

If all anyone sees when they research PTSD is soldiers and people affected by war, they may not recognize themselves and seek help. By sharing our stories we can heal each other. By sharing our faces, we give other survivors someone to relate to. By using our voices, we can offer hope.

To help change the face of PTSD, go here and here and here for more information.

16 Comments on “This is me – #FacesOfPTSD

  1. I love the picture. It reminds me that love and fear can exist together. Or maybe love replaced fear. Our past lives in us but loves helps us move on.

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    • Thank you. We are all at different places in our healing and we all have good days and bad days. But being able to goof around and enjoy the good in my life helps me move through the tougher times. Thank you!

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  2. Thank you for this post, and for being brave enough to share it. I wish I would have know about PTSD decades ago. It explains so much. I’ve never been to war, but I often think of my childhood family home as a war zone. My parents warring with each other, screaming, controlling and demanding with their seven kids. All of us shouting.

    When I was fifteen I was at the local bar/diner hangout (where I knew I wasn’t supposed to be). It was summer and the place was packed. My mother came in, grabbed me by the hair, and dragged outside to where my father was waiting. He then kicked me every step I took, up the street to the car. What I remember most about this was looking over my shoulder to see everyone watching. The humiliation was worse than the pain of being kicked.

    For decades after this, any time I was in a situation where eyes were on me, any hint of a scene of any kind, would bring on feelings of terror and rage, a pounding heart, sweating. I thought it was me being weird and ashamed. Now, I know different.

    Thank you for sharing.

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    • It sounds very much like you were experiencing PTSD symptoms. I remember when I went to therapy in the early 1990s, I described my chronic night terrors, panic attacks, flashbacks and body memories and the therapist told me I was depressed. I knew even then that it went way beyond depression but PTSD was reserved for soldiers back then. I would’ve received the right kind of help a lot sooner if things had been different but now they are and awareness is growing. Mary, thank you so much for sharing what happened to you. I honor you for your willingness to add your voice here!

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  3. Pingback: This Is Me. #FacesOfPTSD | the counter stool

  4. Thank you Karen…
    I’m grateful for the mention of yoga above….PTSD and trauma related yoga is being talked about a lot lately, and for good reason. I’ve been thinking about taking a sensitivity course while reading a lot about it…thanks for the reminder.

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    • I took a trauma sensitive yoga class once and it was really strange because they had us lie on our backs with our legs spread with the goal of causing a tremor in our thighs. It was really emotionally uncomfortable for me so I never went back. It’s taken awhile but I’ve learned to appreciate yoga and actually look forward to it!

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      • oh man..that sounds weird. What I am looking at is making sure I ask before adjusting (which i do anyway) and other little things like that…..so i am AWARE, you know? But I do think that yoga, on the whole, is so healing for PTSD because it allows us to get back into our bodies. I left mine for years, and now, grounding back in, I want that for others, Our traumas are all different…right?

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        • Absolutely. I think what you’re doing is wonderful. I’m so grateful for the yoga instructors that I’ve worked with. You are truly a special group of people!

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  5. Excellent presentation Karen. I too am confused by what PTSD applies to.

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  6. You always find a way to tell hard stories with amazing grace and courage. I have read about your journey and learned so much about myself in the process.
    I’ve said it a bazillion times…so glad our paths have crossed.
    Love you!

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