Thursday, March 21, 2013

Slow-Growing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Myke Cole shares his thoughts on slow-building PTSD, or, as a commenter said, what might be better labelled Post-Duress Stress Disorder:

(Thanks to Elizabeth Barrette for sharing the link.)

I have mixed reactions to his thoughts. They pass a reality check. Think about the veterans you know. How many of them actually hallucinate that they're back on a battlefield, and how many of them are just stressed-out, grumpy, pessimistic people? Whether it's accurately described as a "DISORDER" or as a stress reaction, Myke Cole does sound like the veterans in my family. And props to him for noticing that civilians age that way too.

The problem is, of course, that if we do make the shift from calling it a stress reaction to calling it a DISORDER, those of us who love our frazzled relatives and co-workers may understand them better, yes...but others in our society may aggravate these people's problems by telling them they "need" "medication," some of which will make some of them violently insane, and will put them under suspicion, reduce their opportunities for employment or promotion, cost them the credibility they've earned in public life, do further damage to their family relationships, etc.

And to some extent it probably is part of the aging process for most humans. As the old saying goes, life is hard and then you die. People seem "like different persons" after surviving car crashes, after having pneumonia, after developing arthritis, after losing a child, after losing a "career" job. Maybe even one of the things that helps widows stop crying every single day is realizing that we're not the same people to whom our husbands or wives were married. Maybe it's just more intense and easier to notice in combat veterans and police officers; maybe the mild form of this reaction is what people my age used to mean when we described our parents as "old"--the emotional effect of being a responsible parent.

So what can we do to help the stressed, the burnt-out, the careworn? Probably not anything that involves "we" raising the taxes on the responsible adults who feel stressed. You are probably thinking of someone you know. Why don't you ask that person?

If you do, then they, too, can join the dozens of people who've posted thanks to Myke Cole for explaining his feelings.