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To the PTSD That Won't Stop Reminding Me of My Trauma

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Dear Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,

Those who know you do so under awful circumstances. I’m sorry to say this but you are not necessarily a welcome addition to someone’s life.

• What is PTSD?

Those who have only heard your name don’t know the pain you cause. The shame that you make others carry. You cling on to the painful pasts and make them live through it over and over again.

Like a shadow, you follow closely behind the one you’ve chosen. Be it a soldier who fought for their country. An assault victim who had no means of escape. The girl in the hospital room who time and time again had been stabbed with needles and just wanted to leave.  These are the people you associate yourself with, among others. The people who have experienced true horrors. Yet, you remind them every day.

You feel it is your job to remind people of their past. To remind them that something could potentially be their end, as a result of past experiences. You force people to relive painful memories. You focus on smells, sounds, sights, tastes and sensations. You find a link between these senses to one’s past and pull them back to that time and place.

You don’t discriminate who you impact. A patient who has a flashback at the scent of detergent. A soldier fears injury after hearing the bang of a balloon popping, mimicking the sound of gunfire. The person who sees a look-alike of the person who assaulted them. These sounds, scents and sights trigger images, trigger memories and give the person the illusion they are back where they were.

Alone and scared, but no one understands. No one understands you, and that is why you feel it’s OK reminding people of their past traumas. To remind people, even as they sleep, you replay the images over and over again, reminding them you are still there.

You only remind them of their fears. But these people have endured traumas. They have fought to see another day. Their bravery and courage helped them to survive through adversity. You can remind them of the fear. Of the isolation. But that doesn’t take away any of their strength. They have made it through their past traumatic events and continue to fight. Continue to show courage. Continue living their life.

These brave people continue living. Despite what you tell them, despite how you remind them, it’s going to be hard, but they’ve survived before and will do so once again.

Getty image via bestdesigns

Originally published: May 11, 2020
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