Updated: Jun 28, 2020
"My name is Samira (name changed due to confidential reasons). Once I was travelling by train when a group of men came and poured acid on me. I can never be the same after that incident. There is not even a single place where I can feel safe, not even my home, not even my room. Not even a single day has passed when I haven’t envisioned what happened to me. I have horrific flashbacks and nightmares. Its been more than 5 years but why do I feel the same way? I am afraid of travelling by trains now. I have had several panic attacks. What is it? I can't figure out.”
"My name is Jashan (name changed due to confidential reasons). I was 20 when I got selected into army, I was so happy and elated. But then we had to be deployed, my friend was crushed in the battlefield. There was death, destruction, pain and misery everywhere I looked. Ever since that incident, I have been afraid,I am a soldier,I am supposed to feel strong but I feel scared, I feel imprisoned by my thoughts. It feels as if I brought the war home. It has taken a toll on me."
Almost every 7 of 100 people have similar stories of them having suffered a traumatic event. Yes, there are people like Samira and Jashan (names changed due to confidential reasons).
They were diagnosed with PTSD, “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”, a disorder that occurs when someone has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, combat exposure, acid attack, childhood neglect, rape or any other kind of personal assault.
Most traumatic events have symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. But if the symptoms get worse, or they last for months or even years, and interfere with the day-to-day functioning, then it might be PTSD.
It's symptoms are grouped into 4 types:
The first one being intrusive thoughts which includes recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event, reliving the traumatic event as if it is happening again (flashbacks), upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event, severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event.
The second one is avoidance, its symptoms include trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event or at times avoiding being around places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event.
The third one composes of negative changes in thinking and mood which include: hopelessness, memory problems, feeling detached and feeling emotionally numb.
The last one includes changes in physical and emotional reactions; being easily frightened, self destructive behaviour, drinking problems, disturbed sleeping patterns and angry outbursts.
In simple words, being diagnosed with PTSD feels like the past trying to have a hold on you, trapping you in a cage you can’t escape from. Clouding your mind with repetitive episodes of the trauma you experienced.
These symptoms are a reaction to the traumatic event experienced by the person. Just like the bodily bleeding after an accident, it's the mind that screams and bleeds with pain.
It gets difficult for a person to cope since the anguish is internal and its not visible. The intricacies of this emotional wound can’t be explained by the person and so people refuse or feel ashamed for reaching out for help.
A broken bone, a bleeding cut can be seen, but not every wound is visible, not every wound can be explained. PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness. Struggling everyday, every second isn’t easy.
So this 27th June, marked as the 'PTSD Awareness Day', let’s reach out for help and let's talk about the mental health condition. Asking for help is not something to be ashamed of, its a brave step towards the path of well being.
Go out, seek for the professional help, share your story.
You can also share your story with us and it will be shared to the world anonymously!
~ Jasmine Kaur