PTSD seems to be all the rage, according to social media. It is the buzz word that instantly conjures up images of people going off the deep end and causing all sorts of chaos. They are viewed as unstable, irrational, and unable to control their actions. Lately, many famous court cases are using the PTSD defense to help get their clients off severe charges and even death row; saying that because of the trauma the individual experienced, they are not of their right mind and should not be held accountable for their actions. PTSD is showing up more in movies, TV dramas, books and social media. This is a doubled-edged sword: it does bring to light the importance of truly and finally addressing the issues of PTSD and those who suffer from it; and at the same time, social media lacks the true nature and understanding of PTSD. Social media tends to stereotype patients who suffer from PTSD as people who are always unstable and acting out negatively, who are prone to substance abuse, and who can’t maintain anything in life. How wrong they are!
Although PTSD has several aspects and common traits associated with the diagnosis of the disorder, the impact and effects are as different as those who suffer from it. Yet social media tries to place everyone who is diagnosed with it into this cookie-cutter shaped image of behavior and attitude. And media, not fully understanding the individuality PTSD has, will make assumptions about those who suffer from it. Even if they attempt to research it for the article/story; they only go to textbook definitions and fail to go deeper below the surface of the afflicted. Because of this, many who suffer from PTSD are looked down upon and are treated differently than others who suffer from other mental illnesses/disorders.
What should social media know about PTSD? First and foremost that PTSD is an individual disorder and that each case is very different from another. Yes, they may have similar traits; however, they must also take into account all the aspects of the individual. Not every veteran who has ever been deployed will turn out like the solider from American Sniper who killed Chris Kyle and fellow veteran during target practice. There are many who suffer from PTSD, yet are functional at work, in their families, and so on. In some cases, you might not even know someone suffers from PTSD unless you ask.
Other things to consider are the individuals who are diagnosed with PTSD; How did they get it? At what age did they experience the trauma? Was there any counseling or assistance offered and how soon after the trauma? What was the patient’s cultural background and make-up? How long were they exposed to the trauma(s) which brought on the onset of PTSD? Is there substance abuse present and if so, what and how long before/after did the substance abuse take place? Are there any mental disorders/illnesses present? How minor/severe is the PTSD in this individual? Is there a faith base which the individual have and how does this help/hinder them? Does the individual even know they have PTSD? Is the individual receiving assistance for PTSD?
It seems like a great deal to consider when you think about PTSD, and it is. If social media wants to truly report or discuss PTSD, they need to go deeper into the understanding of PTSD on the individual and not the general populace. They cannot simply take the definition of PTSD and expect everyone diagnosed with it to behave and react in the same way. Such assumptions only deepens the PTSD because of society’s reaction to what the media portrays it to be.
Victims of PTSD want to be viewed as regular people who have issues they are going through and not a people who you cannot be dependable and responsible members of society. PTSD is not a social disease and it cannot be transmitted from one person to another. And yet because of social media’s portrayal of PTSD, people tend to distance themselves from those who suffer from it because they are afraid they might go off the deep end and do something terrible. And although it is true that sometimes victims cannot control their feelings, actions/reactions, if given the right treatments/counseling/understanding/supports, these individual can not only learn proper therapeutic ways to manage their PTSD, but they could also overcome their affliction of it.
Another aspect that social media needs to share that PTSD is not just a disorder brought on by the military. It is more common than many think and it occurs in a variety of ways. Abuses such as domestic violence, physical/mental/verbal/sexual abuses, the death of a loved one tragically, divorces, accidents, various forms of trauma, military deployments involving wartime battles, sudden profound loss of income/vocation, natural disasters and so on all can bring on the onset of PTSD. The post-TRAUMATIC STRESS disorder is any traumatic event which produces a stress level which the individual has the inability to manage on their own. It is a sensory, emotionally, mentally overload which occurs by the onset of a traumatic event; usually happening all at the same time.
In the example of our military, consider the events which are taking place in the midst of a deployment: They are taken away from their families for a long period of time, taken into a hostile place in which they are told to attack and kill or to be attacked and killed themselves, they participate in these killings and witness the effects of said killings, they are exposed to brutal and harsh living conditions and exposure to the elements, lack of sleep, the uncertainty of their surroundings, the weight of their family members back home struggling with their deployment, the struggles of not being there for their families while being deployed, seeing fellow military being wounded/killed in front of their eyes, they being wounded, and this is just part of their struggles and exposures.
Now consider when they return home after deployment: dealing with and processing their experiences while being deployed, dealing with the changes they have taken on while deployment, coming home to the changes/adjustments the family had to make in their absence, reintegration back into a civilian lifestyle, dealing with any injuries while deployment, sometime meeting their children for the first time (being born while on deployment), adjusting to finding gainful employment are some of the struggles. Now to all this, add PTSD for those who experience it and expect them to “deal with it” the same way you and I would. It’s unrealistic to expect!
Will social media consider all of these? Some might, most will not. But if they did, there would be a great deal more compassion and understanding. Maybe, they could report on their struggles and help others to understand that they can help those suffering from PTSD in a variety of ways. And maybe, just maybe, social media can dispel the myths behind PTSD instead of creating them.
If you or someone you love is suffering from PTSD, there is help being offered through various resources. Please seek the help you need. And if you or your loved one is a veteran and need assistance, FreedomSystem might be able to help you find the assistance you need. Contact us here at FreedomSystem.org.