This post isn’t what you might think. In fact, it is one that I am not sure the title is right for but here we go anyway……
I have noticed a strange and curious thing about PTSD, and it has nothing to do with symptoms, triggers, reactions, emotions or any of the other PTSD things that happen. It has to do with the perception you get from others when they find out you are dealing with PTSD.
In most cases, when people find out that you are dealing with PTSD, the reaction is similar to telling someone that you have a disease or a long-term physical illness. And of course, as soon as most people hear PTSD, their minds right away skip to “oh no, he’s going to kill himself” or “the depression is going to get him”. The funny thing though is that even if suicide and depression are two major effects if you will of PTSD, they are definitely not the only outcomes or effects. Many more people get diagnosed with PTSD, take action and find treatment, learn to cope with their PTSD and start living their new normal.
But there is something else that happens when you get diagnosed. You end up getting “branded” in some way, shape or form with a mental health stigma. Something that I laugh at regularly and make jokes about. In fact, I have decided to embrace the stigma and wear the brand proudly. I see it as the result of what I have been doing for a living. Something that I earned by stepping up to the plate to serve. And this is where that curious thing happens.
Because I have embraced my PTSD, I’m vocal about it and I don’t hesitate telling people. The more people who know about it, the better for me and others. Here’s an example. The other day, I ran into another police officer from a different Agency. As we chatted, he asked me if I was working on anything good lately. I took a second to shore myself up and then said “I havent been working since May after I was diagnosed with PTSD”. The other member was shocked and a bit taken aback. I explained it was an od incident that surfaced in an ugly way and now I’m dealing with it. Realizing that I was serious, the other officer looked at me and told me that last week he went off sick after trying to hide and deal with his PTSD.
An immediate bond and connection. A safety knowing that you are not alone, another cop is open about their PTSD and is living, and thriving on a PTSD journey. Not everything resulting from PTSD is bad and sometimes just telling people about it can be the best thing you can do for yourself and them.