If you have watched the news over the past year or so, you’ve seen or heard these four letters…PTSD or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD isn’t reserved for only those serving or who have served in our armed forces. It can be anyone who has suffered any type of trauma. Rape, near death, physical attack or verbal attacks, can all lead to PTSD.
The symptoms are mostly non-visible. The person suffering may internalize their reactions. They may cringe vs yell, they may walk away vs act out. There is absolutely no way to tell who suffers from PTSD until either that person shares it with you, and that’s only if they realize they are suffering, or when they snap and it could possibly be too late.
The one side of the PTSD battle you don’t often hear about is the toll it takes on the loved ones around.
I was recently speaking with a friend of mine who was sharing how her daughter was married to a young and ambitious Marine. He was the kind of guy you would want your daughter to marry. Outgoing, energetic, positive outlook on everything. He served 2 tours overseas and after returning home from the 2nd tour, he had changed. He was no longer the man her daughter fell in love with. He had become withdrawn. Dark. He preferred solitude vs socialization. The relationship became so indifferent to him that he ended it abruptly one day by leaving his wife and requesting a divorce. PTSD doesn’t only affect those who suffer but those who love them as well.
Meet Tom and Joann. Tom suffers from PTSD related to his time in the military. On the exterior, Tom seems perfectly normal. He takes his kids to their activities, has small talk with other parents. He goes to work every day and his job performance is on par. At the end of the day, when Tom gets home, he becomes withdrawn. Joann tries to talk to Tom but unfortunately, he can’t really tell her much so the conversation is short and meaningless. Tom doesn’t sleep well at night, he has nightmares. Joann tries to comfort him when he wakes up screaming but she can’t really because she isn’t privy to why he’s screaming in the first place. Joann has noticed that Tom is becoming more and more short with the kids when they’re playing inside and get a bit too noisy, she wonders if his reactions could become more aggressive….deep down she doesn’t want to believe Tom would ever hurt his family, but there is that part of her that flashes back to the news last year when that husband killed his family…and that husband suffered from PTSD. As Joann falls asleep, she has to pray her family will all wake up.
When you get married, your vows state ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health’…when you are married to someone suffering from PTSD related emotional issues, when does your well being trump your marriage and the effects that PTSD is having on it? When does, if at all, the ‘for worse’ become null and void?
No one thinks of Joann in this instance because to the outside world Tom is fine. Joann doesn’t talk to anyone about it because what if it got out that Tom is suffering? Would it hurt his career? Would he lose friends? Would she lose friends? Where would she even begin?
PTSD is a silent killer. But it isn’t just those who suffer who are at risk.
The next time to hear someone utter those 4 letters, stop for a moment and HEAR their next words because it could be the difference between life and death.
If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD or PTSD related issues, please seek help.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
- Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000
- Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741