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Why Being Nice to Me Can Trigger Me on Bad Days With PTSD

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Kindness should never be taken for granted — I truly believe that. As an individual who lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), there’s a lot that can trigger me: witnessing an act of violence, people invading my personal space, certain words that somehow keep reinventing themselves, being around abusers, of course — and strangers being nice to me in person.

• What is PTSD?

I’ve found many abusers can be nice at one point or another. They’re nice, then it starts. So every time someone is nice, I see the same thing happening — just like before.

The second (and more effective) reason is because of the way much of society seems to view nice people. When a person is nice, they may often be excused automatically for many things. If someone invades my personal space, but the person is nice, then I’m made out to be overreacting. Even if they touch me without my permission, I’m still “overreacting.” It seems to me, it’s “overreacting” until there are broken bones, blood, or an otherwise “legitimate” assault. I didn’t mention emotional, psychological, spiritual, or economic abuse because in my experience those are, of course, my fault according to society if a nice person is involved.

We need to be careful when making exceptions for any rule. This exception, and the fact that many seem to use it, terrifies me. It terrifies me enough that, at times, at hotels I do not leave my room because the staff are nice. I might avoid family, friends, co-workers — all because of the nice conundrum. And when I do these things, in fear of nice people, it seems to many it’s all just an overreaction. My PTSD is an overreaction.

My point in all this is simple: Mental illness is very real, stigma still exists, and exceptions can easily be misused.

Image via Thinkstock.

A version of this post originally appeared on Life in My Days.

Originally published: December 20, 2016
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