10 Things I've Learned
1. Your therapist doesn’t fix you. Your therapist is there to help you fix yourself!
2. Your “family” is not as big as you thought it was.
3. Non-PTSD people, while truly caring and with good intentions, generally have no clue how to actually help, what to say or what to do so there are a lot of empty words and phrases like “I/we are here for you”. What does “here for you” actually look like?
4. There is still an incredibly disappointing amount of stigma surrounding PTSD and mental health. As a society, as an organization, as a group, we rush towards a person to sign their cast on their broken arm and are very accepting of physical injuries but when it comes to mental health injuries like PTSD, the silence of many, and the silence of those who are expected NOT to be silent, only strengthens the stigma. Sometimes that stigma even comes from a person who is burdened with mental health challenges themselves (while not proud of that, I admit that it has happened).
5. You absolutely need to do what’s best for you. That will piss off some people!
6. There are still a large number of people who consciously choose to be unaware of, or remain uneducated on mental health issues like PTSD, believing that “it” will never happen to them.
7. There are 3 categories of people who will talk to you about your PTSD and mental health; those that deserve a full and detailed explanation, those that deserve a one word answer and those that deserve nothing. There are still people that will judge you because of your mental health challenges.
8. No matter how difficult, how dark or how challenging your recovery journey is, it will always get better.
9. Your support network tends to be filled more with others with similar mental health challenges and less with your friends and co-workers. When it comes to mental health challenges like PTSD, lived experience means everything!
10. This journey is not an easy journey and in many ways is harder than any structure fire I have ever fought over the past 27 years. It truly is a battle unlike anything else.