10 Things Not To Say To Someone With PTSD

 

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This is a friendly reminder to think before you open your mouth.

 

  1. “What happened wasn’t that bad” – Different things have different impacts on different people. Some people survive assault (just as an example) and have no psychological issues from it whatsoever, others go through a crisis, others develop PTSD. A person might go through several traumas in their lifetime and only develop PTSD as a result of one of those traumas, it might not always be the one that “seems” the worst. Also, if someone tells you about a trauma, there’s a pretty big chance they’re not telling you all the details. Talking about a trauma tends to be traumatic, go figure.

 

2. “Snap out of it”
Go f*ck yourself. You seriously think people re-live the worst moments of their lives because they haven’t bothered NOT to? You can’t snap out of it, no matter how badly you want to. If it was a matter of ‘snapping out of it’, PTSD wouldn’t exist.

 

3. “Have you tried…”
“I’ve had insomnia for 25 years that interacts with my PTSD. I’ve tried everything”
“OMG, have you tried, like, going to bed at the same time every night and having like a routine”
“No, because when I said I’d tried everything I clearly meant that I’ve tried everything except the most basic solution.”
I’ve gotten this from so many people over the years and it’s so goddamn annoying. Another common one is blaming screens. I promise you, I did not have a smartphone or a laptop with me in bed as a kid in the 90’s. I was still an insomniac. When I say that I’ve tried everything, don’t assume I haven’t tried things that would show up on the first page of the search results when you Google.

4. “Drugs can cure PTSD”
There are experimental treatments that involve certain drugs that are classified as narcotics. Those treatments are done under strict supervision in combination with therapy. Getting high does not cure PTSD and I’m certainly not about to risk a criminal conviction for something like this. Self-medication is extremely common among people with PTSD and many people with PTSD end up turning to drugs out of desperation. They do not need you pushing them there. No drug (medical or non-medical) should not be used for PTSD treatment without being used under medical supervision and guidance.

 

5. “Someone I know went through the same thing and they didn’t get PTSD”
Good for them. I’ve fallen off many horses without breaking any bones, that doesn’t mean that Christopher Reeve wasn’t paralysed after falling off a horse.

6. “TRIGGER WARNING”
I am so goddamn sick of ‘trigger warnings’ that I want to vomit. Firstly, if you do want to try to warn someone about specific content, you have to tell them what the warning is about. I don’t know how people think that writing “trigger warning” with no context is meant to help anyone. Secondly, you don’t know someone’s triggers unless you know them really really well. PTSD triggers don’t work the way people think they do. Talking about something related to trauma is not automatically triggering. Triggers can be anything. Thirdly, a trigger does not necessarily trigger a flashback either, it does however tend to cause the condition to flare up. If you’ve survived being shot, you may be perfectly fine talking about guns, but have a flashback when a balloon explodes. You may have nightmares for days after being exposed to a certain scent, but you have no problem watching a movie featuring scene depicting a similar trauma. Life pretty much has a “viewer discretion is advised” stapled on it already, writing “TW” at the end of a Facebook post isn’t helping anyone.

7. “You should exercise/try this natural remedy”
See point 3.  Also, if things like “eat natural foods” would have cured PTSD, no one would have struggled with PTSD after WWI. I used to exercise 8-10 hours a week, it did nothing to relieve my PTSD. Leading a healthy lifestyle can help manage certain symptoms, but it’s far from guaranteed. If my PTSD is flaring up badly and I can barely leave the house, then telling me to ‘exercise’ or ‘just be social’ is like asking me to go to the dark side of the moon, it is simply not possible at that point in time. Unless you are an expert on PTSD and have a license to give medical advice, shut up.

8. “Maybe just lower your ambitions”
There is this stereotype that people with PTSD are doomed to living on welfare and won’t be able to do anything with their lives. This applies to most mental illnesses to be honest. A friend of mine experienced psychosis when they were younger and were told that having a job and an apartment were unrealistic goals. By a doctor. This friend has since been able to obtain both. I have PTSD, I’m not broken or incompetent. I can choose to let this thing run my life, or I can fight for the life I want to have. If you’re happy with having a dead-end job or living on welfare, never leaving your hometown, and never doing anything extraordinary, then good for you. Just don’t expect me to do the same.

9. “I totally know what it’s like”
Do you have PTSD? Have you at least experienced a similar trauma? No? Then no, you don’t know what it’s like. Thankfully this is getting less common as I get older, but I heard this nonstop when I was a teenager.

10. “OMG I’m such a mental health ally, activism is so important”
My PTSD isn’t about you. Don’t use my trauma for your political purposes. Don’t use my pain to feel better about yourself. I’m not your ’cause’.

 

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