41 Truths People With PTSD Wish Others Understood

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a condition that will affect an estimated 7.8 percent of Americans at some point in their lives, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s a psychiatric disorder that can be caused by life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents or physical or sexual assault.

The Mighty wanted to raise awareness and spread understanding of this serious and often debilitating condition. So we, together with the PTSD Support and Recovery Facebook page, asked people who live with the condition what they wish others could understand about it. This is what they had to say.

1. “It isn’t just war veterans who suffer from it. It’s caused by being in any traumatic situation, such as mental, physical or sexual abuse. Car accidents or watching a traumatic incident can also cause it.” — Julianne Parker Jeppesen

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2. “Some days are worse than others, but those good days don’t mean we’re ‘better’ or ‘over it.’ It’s really not a thing you can just ‘get over.’ Moving past it takes time and a lot of effort.” — Madison Dakota Chamberlain

3. “We don’t do it to irritate, frustrate or otherwise incur your wrath. If we were able to turn it off or not react the ways we do, we would. Believe that.” — Julie Anderson

4. “Telling me my greatest fears aren’t real or going to happen doesn’t help me. I understand they can seem outrageous at times, but prior to my traumatic experience, had I told you something like that was going to happen, you would have said ‘no way.'” — Monika Schneider

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5. “I need all the support I can get at my lowest points because that’s when I feel [the PTSD] is winning.” — Tricia Hill

6. “I cannot just ‘stop.'” — Allison Hart

7.”It has many forms, not all of which look like what you see in movies.” — Carya Cunningham-Sloan

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8. “Even though it may be hard to live with my moods and my strange ways of dealing with things, it’s even harder to be me and have to live with my moods and the strange ways I do things.” — Robyn Wright

9. “Even though it’s 13 years since [my sexual assault], when I’m having a panic attack, it feels like it was 13 days ago. It isn’t in my past. It’s in my every day.” — Helen Wilson

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10. “I want to be my old cheeky self again, and it’s frustrating and upsetting that I can’t get there.” — Sarah Whelan

11. “Sometimes you simply just don’t want to talk about it.” — Jen Long

12. “I have lost my sense of safety.” — Rebecca Wood

13. “Choose your words and actions wisely. You never know when your words or actions will turn into somebody’s constant nightmare.” — Manda Ree

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14. “Just allow me to cry and mourn, and I will regain my composure and be OK.” — Melinda Garner

15. “Don’t corner me and don’t touch me when I’m anxious. I can’t control this. It controls me.” — Cara Pair

16. “It could take you years to actually face what has happened. And numerous more to overcome it. PTSD is not easy to deal with, much less live with.” — Carol Sides

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17. “I’m not my diagnosis. I have good days and bad days, but I’m not contagious. I’m just human.” — Patrice Caraway

18. “Many of my decisions today are affected by this condition. I live with bouts of anxiety and hyper-vigilance because of my trauma.” — Michelle Pawson Rotella

19. “He didn’t have to hit me to leave a scar.” — Allison M. Rockwell

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20. “I did not ask for the things that I’ve been through, and I certainly did not ask my mind to paint and repaint the pictures in flashback form.” — Michelle Groth

21. “It’s disabling.” — Johan Asketill

22. It’s real, even if it’s hard to explain.” — Natalie Hyland

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23. “It’s exhausting to fight a war inside your head every single day.” — Mickie Ann

24. “I fear everything — what happened and what could happen. I live my life with a constant slideshow of events in my head, and I still don’t know all of my triggers.” — Melissa Cote

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25. “You don’t need to be afraid of me. PTSD doesn’t cause me to turn into a monster. When I’m triggered I relive my traumatic experience, but I’m still in control of myself.” — Crystal Malta

26. “It’s a never-ending battle. Sometimes you think you have it beat but then something else comes along to trigger it and you feel like you’re at square one again.” — Kristen Abbas

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27. “Simple little things like a song or smell can be a trigger.” — Selina Bonser

28. “I wish society would stop using it as slang. No, you don’t have PTSD because you saw a spider and it bugged you because you saw ‘Arachnophobia’ too young. It’s not something to be trivialized, and by using it in that way you’re diminishing the struggle so many of us face in getting actual treatment and support for this disorder.” — Tia Maria

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29. “I wish [others] would understand it’s not their fault and they can’t fix me. And it makes me worse when they get upset or angry about what caused my PTSD.” — Courtney Jade

30. “I hate being touched, but sometimes I’m beyond desperate for a hug.” — Nikki Vee

31. When I pushed people away it was actually when I needed people the most.” — Cindie Anne

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32. “I have scars you can’t see. I have feelings you can’t feel. I have thoughts you could never understand. When you look at me you see the same person as before, but when I look at me I see a completely different person.” — Pam Berry

33. “I’m not being overly sensitive, looking for attention or making it up. I can’t control how certain things affect me. If I could control it, believe me when I tell you that I would.” — Melissa Goodman

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34. “I already hate myself, so putting me down for not being normal and judging and criticizing me because I can’t do certain things or can’t control myself does not help not even one bit.” — Jessica Turner

35. “I’m not lazy. I’m just exhausted from fighting my way through every single day.” — MiMi Love

36. “It’s hard to stay here on Earth, but I do for my daughter.” — Nicki Chapman

37. “I’m not angry all the time; I just like to be left alone. I wish there was a magic pill that gave me my patience back.” — Vikki Ob

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38. “I’m not being manipulative.” — Angie Rigby 

39. “I wish people would be more sensitive. If they cringe at the thought of my experiences, imagine how I feel, having survived it and reliving it whenever my brain deems fit… I wish people would understand how terrifying it is to attempt to find help. The thought of telling your story is instant panic.” — Sandy Burkey

40. “It’s a daily battle that seems you can never win. But you have to keep fighting.” — Chris Dayy

41. “It has nothing to do with you.” — Susan Leona Winder

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For more resources on PTSD, or for more information about getting help, visit Mental Health AmericaIf you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Do you have a story about your experience with mental illness? We want to hear it. Please send it to [email protected] and include a photo for the story, a photo of yourself and a 1-2 sentence bio. More info here. Thanks!

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