Another Reminder that We Still Have a Long Way to Go... (approx. 5-6 minute read)

I received an email this week and although I tried to respond to the address it was sent from, it was blocked. So I decided to use the email as well as my response to it, for this week’s blog. Please excuse any spelling errors in the email, as I just copied and pasted it:

“Your traumatic event was something literally every one I know has experienced. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary - or something one would consider to be a truly traumatic experience. 

To obtain peoples understandings, you would be better served if you framed this around anxiety instead of PTSD.

 Its sort of disrespectful to people who have endured untold trauma and agonies and moved on, to have you parade an incredibly minor experience around. 
And its also a powerful tool to use to explain why anxiety disorders are so debilitating - after all if your reaction to something so minor was this big due to anxiety, surely anxiety makes trauma hell!. 

You aren't weak, or a bad person. Nor do I think you're sharing this experience for personal gain. 

You make very good points in your literature and I'm sorry you had to go through what you have. 

I simply think framing the incident as the cause is wrong - a healthy mind would not have had the reaction yours did. You did not experience sustained trauma, or sustain damage to yourself or those you care for. The incident was not a big deal. 

What it triggered in you was. *That* is the trauma - the anxiety from other sources after the event. Combined with the shame and judgement of loved ones about your anxiety, that sustained stress, those feelings -all of that is the piece that makes sense as traumatic. 

I live in a communal housing project. People here pull knives on each other with variable frequency. 

If I get up to use the restroom at 2am, I have to be on guard. Its hyper vigilance as a lifestyle. 

Just happens I was once a soldier. At least I was trained for it. Now I understand what they meant by "always a soldier". 

I think that's my problem with your story. I served with people who had to see horrors I couldn't comprehend (I never had the honor of deploying) - and I would never compare the trauma I have endured to the things they have seen. 
I personally have been raped, beaten, robbed, was homeless and couldn't even sleep in safety. 

I've been through the ringer. And my trauma is *nothing* compared to theirs. 
So to see you take a trauma I would laugh at, and use it in literature as something that could reasonably cause PTSD is offensive to me. 

No. PTSD is not limited to combat experience. Many civilians experience it. I would never diminish someone's pain for not having served (dawns on me that I do not know if you have) - I just would limit what events qualify as traumatic. 
As I have attempted to relay, I understand your trauma is very real. But, I think you're lying to yourself if you think the trauma came from that event, instead of what happened in your life emotionally from the event triggering an anxiety disorder.”

My response:

“Thank you, dshirt44545. I truly appreciate your comments and I want you to know that I'm very sorry for making you feel like I'm being disrespectful. 

I have quite a few friends that, like you, are soldiers and I've heard their horrendous stories about the things they saw and did fighting in combat.

I know that my traumas (and I say traumas because there have been multiple), aren't comparable to someone who has been deployed, but as you know, they affect the human brain the same way.  

I'm also sorry that you don't feel like my trauma is worthy of writing a blog over, but I assure you that the trauma I have opened up about on my blog isn't the only trauma I have endured. The origin of my traumas didn’t just come from being held up; it also came from being sexually, emotionally and physically abused by my family of origin ...and that started when I was extremely young. 

The abuse continued through most of my teenage years but from what I’ve read, one of the things that made matters worse for me was that I also had two head traumas before the age of 12. One of them was so bad I ended up at Sick Kid’s Hospital in Toronto for almost a week.

By the time I was 14 I started running away from home and as you know, being on the streets isn't safe. I was raped multiple times during my times living on the streets, but I was afraid to go home and I felt like I had nowhere to turn. In fact, to avoid going back to my childhood home I ended up getting married at the age of 18 to an alcoholic.

As for having difficulties sleeping ...I have nightmares every night. Most of my nightmares are about the person, who used to come down the hall and do incestual things to my body while I tried to sleep. Now, decades later, I have trouble sleeping for more than an hour to an hour-and-a-half at a time, before waking to a nightmare.

You know “dshirt,” I could go on, but I honestly don't have time. I'm trying to end the stigma around PTSD and mental illness; if you'd like to climb on board and help me, then climb on. If not, stop picking on people like me that end up getting triggered by your accusations and negativity.

Stay safe and stay strong.”

That’s it ...seems like we still have a long way to go to end the stigma around mental illness, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again -#TogetherWeAreStronger!

Stay safe and stay strong. Happy New Year, thanks for following.