How to support someone with PTSD – part two

I have recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. It is an aptly named “disease” – though it is not a mental illness. It is a normal reaction to a traumatic life event.

It is also quite common in our society and something everyone should know at least a little bit about. If PTSD does not currently affect you, it may one day. But I can assure you there is someone in your life affected by it – even though you may not realize it. I suggest this article from Mayo Clinic to learn more about the condition itself.

I am quite blessed to have many supportive and caring people in my life who have asked me how they can help. Along the way, I have come up with a number of suggestions I would like to share:

(If you missed part one, you can read it here.)

2. Encourage them to seek therapy.

Again, it is unfortunate our culture tends to look at people who seek professional help for a mental condition as “weak” or “incapable.” But seeking professional help is not an admission of weakness. It merely is an acknowledgment of our own limitations.

I try thinking about it like this – if there is a problem with your car and you are not a mechanic, you go to a professional to help you fix the problem so you can keep going to the places you want and need to go. If you are planning a big party and you need help getting it all together, you hire a caterer, event planner, photographer, entertainers ect. With a team of professionals backing you up, you’ll have a shin-dig every guest will remember for years to come. If you are sick with a stuffy nose and wheezing cough, you go to a doctor for a diagnoses and some suggested treatment. Then you might go see a pharmacist for medicine. These professionals chose their respective careers because (hopefully) they enjoy putting their time, talent, and education to work helping people with their respective problems.

You wouldn’t feel ashamed of seeing a doctor. You wouldn’t feel ashamed of hiring an event planner. And you wouldn’t feel ashamed of taking your car in for a tune-up. So why this stigma against the professionals and those who seek their help with personal, emotional, and even mental issues? But answering that question is another article entirely.

It took me a long time to seek professional help, and it took the kind and caring words of a good friend. He told me that while he supports me and wants to “be there” for me, he has no idea what I have experienced and doesn’t feel competent in helping me navigating the road ahead. There are professionals and support groups who can help me in that way – see common stumbling blocks and strategies for steering around or through them. But what really got me to make that phone call was him telling me that I am “worth fighting for.” That this is a battle I have to fight – but I don’t have to do it alone. But before I can get help, I need to acknowledge my own limitations.

And as Albert Einstein said; “Acknowledging a limitation is the first step to overcoming it.”

Read Part One

Read Part Three

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  1. How to support someone with PTSD (or social anxiety) – part three « Just One Take
  2. How to support someone with PTSD – part one « Just One Take

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