PTSD Is Not Weakness

CW: A Certain POTUS Candidate Whom I Refuse To Name (I don’t care to contribute to his trending), suicide, mental health, depression, PTSD.
 
I have no intentions of weighing in by responding directly to/on POTUS Candidate Racist McFerretwig’s recent remarks about soldiers with PTSD. Not because I don’t think it’s important. Not because it doesn’t have me all sorts of angry. Quite the opposite. So why not? It hits too close to home. And, quite frankly, this whole year (but especially the last 6 or so months) has been REALLY difficult in a multitude of ways, some of which I haven’t even talked about publicly. Lately, I haven’t been in a good place (no I’m not suicidal, just not in a good place) and I don’t have the emotional energy to watch his remarks or even to read them to be able to weigh in.
 
Instead of talking about that walking travesty,, I want to talk more generally about depression, PTSD, and suicide.
I’d like to start with a few facts.
1. Anyone can have PTSD, it’s not limited to combat vets, servicemembers, or severe trauma.
2. PTSD is a legitimate health issue.
3. PTSD is not a sign of weakness or the result of doing something wrong, sinning, not praying enough, etc.
 
Now. Even though PTSD can affect anyone, not servicemembers, I’d like to focus on veterans with PTSD.
 
Did you know that on average, 22 veterans a day commit suicide? I’m not suicidal, but I understand all too well how people – including veterans and their dependents – can get to that point. And unfortunately, most of what’s out there and geared towards suicide prevention, including from the military, is there to help when people reach the crisis point. We need more aimed at preventing people from hitting the crisis point, which means helping veterans earlier on, whether it’s earlier detection and treatment of PTSD/depression/etc., helping prevent really crappy situations from reaching a certain level, helping prevent unjust situations in the first place, and so on. A big part of that is that we need more conversations about PTSD, depression, and other mental health issues, we need an increase in education and awareness, because those are a huge part of combatting stigma. And when it comes to servicemembers, veterans, and their family members, the stigma that is out there can all too often play a very large role in keeping them (us) from reaching out for help (including before hitting the crisis point). This means we need to be careful how we talk about mental health, depression, PTSD etc. NOT saying “that’s weakness”. NOT saying that people who commit suicide are *insert derogatory statements here*. NOT joking about suicide, NOT making light of these issues. It means trying to make sure we are a safe person to talk to, and that people know we’re a safe person to talk to. It means that when you hear someone saying this crap and perpetuating stigma, you call them on it and have a conversation about the realities of PTSD, etc.
 
PTSD, depression, suicide, and mental health issues in general are no joke and they’re not a joking matter.
 
If you or someone you know need help, please feel free to message me. I’d also like to include some other links to resources that may be of assistance.
 
This link is to the Crisis Text Line (in case you’re more comfortable texting instead of talking on the phone). 
 
Military OneSource Provides a number of different types of support and resources. 
 
This link is to the Veterans Crisis Line
 
If you/your spouse are in the military, you can contact the MFLC (Military & Family Life Counselor) for your installation. If you need help finding their info, contact me and I’ll help you figure it out. ACS or your unit should also be able to help you get this info, and you don’t have to tell them why or for whom you need it.
 
For military/dependents, Chaplains may also be an option.
 
If you have TriCare, you may find this link helpful. It’s a post I wrote for Postpartum Progress about getting help for PPMD as a military spouse, but a lot of the information is relevant to this post. 
 
If you’re having a rough time, please reach out. You don’t have to go through this alone. If someone you know is having a rough time, PLEASE reach out so they know they don’t have to go through it alone. It can make a huge difference. Reaching out literally saves lives.
 
I won’t get into all the reasons why this is so important to me, besides to say that I’ve been there. After my first baby was born, I had 2 hospitalizations courtesy of Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders dragging me down into a really dark place. I almost didn’t make it out alive, but I did. In large part, I made it out because of people who reached out to me, and people who responded with love when I reached out. If you’re that person and in that place, know this: you matter, it’s NOT hopeless, you are loved, and the world is a better place because you’re in it.
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