Be Brave and Flourish!

Hello Lovelies!

Eleanor Roosevelt has once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Throughout life, we all go through hard struggles that affect us in several different ways; however, the way we react to these obstacles in our lives shape who we are as human beings. Many people around the world experience or witness traumatizing incidents that can develop a mental health condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Four main symptoms of PTSD are: recurring memories or nightmares of the particular incident, avoiding situations that remind you of the event, negative changes in personal beliefs and feelings, or increased emotional arousal. [1] Depending on the person and the severity of the trauma, these symptoms may appear months or years after the event. Having PTSD can affect the way you live your life because it disrupts your social and personal life, creates unhealthy habits, and causes you to lose your identity.

British-Soldier_799595c      e_phillips_colorado

            Most people associate PTSD with battle-scarred soldiers [2] mainly because the majority of them develop this disorder after their time in war. When they go back to their normal life, the horrific pain that they had to endure or witness may be engrained in their memories. A good amount of soldiers end up experiencing the dramatic effects of invisible injuries such as depression, nightmares, and emotional and physical distress. [3] Many doctors are trying to find a remedy for patients who suffer this disorder but Dr. Paul Sedge, an impersonal leader at a mental health clinic, claims that PTSD is the most common type of mental-health injury in combat operations. It is also the most difficult to diagnose and the most complex to treat, [4] therefore it may take some time before doctors find the solution to PTSD.

In the novel, Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home, the author does an excellent job at revealing the real psychological trauma soldiers have to undergo after being in a war. One of the soldiers in the story claimed that many of his fellow comrades became mentally crazy after serving their time in the war. He believed that the war in Iraq was a significant factor as to why several soldiers were being arrested for murderer. He wondered if the violent environment of the war played any roll in what made these soldiers pull the trigger. [5] This story just proves how former soldiers can easily loser their self identity due to post-traumatic stress and this type of disorder can be incredibly dangerous to a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health. The events that these soldiers had to see or go through makes it very arduous to forget about when they go back to their normal, every day lives.

Mayi Mayi child soldiers at Mangangu 'Political Retraining Camp'

Another topic that many people are interested in is the affect that post-traumatic stress has on little children. Children who have PTSD will struggle to overcome this disorder because a person’s memory at a young age is at its prime. According to an article, former child soldiers who have PTSD are usually against the act of restoring relationships with others and they are more likely to seek revenge in a situation. They are blamed and stigmatized for the atrocities they have committed, and their psychological recovery and reintegration into civilian society is a burdensome task. [6] This is mainly because they were forced to adapt to witness and commit horrific acts in a dangerous environment. Therefore, living a regular life can be extremely difficult to readjust to due to the way these former child soldiers grew up.

According to the survey that I conducted, nine out of fifteen people believed that they are capable of completely getting over an event that has dramatically affected their life, while the other six were not sure. The majority of people that took my survey agreed that big, traumatic events could cause a huge change in your daily life because it alters old or creates new habits. One in particular claimed that their daily-life has changed in terms of the way they avoid situations that remind them of the event. This person no longer takes long walks and they cannot ride their bike anymore due to a frightening accident that occurred a long time ago. If the little things in your everyday life remind you of a horrific event that you experienced or saw, “you will be forced to think about it, making the situation even worse.” [7] This can cause you to develop unusual habits and essentially, these habits prevent you from living your life to the fullest potential. I also interviewed a woman that is currently dealing with post-traumatic stress today and she admitted that her disorder has caused her to distance herself from loved ones. She has been trying to cope for several years now and her inability to open up has affected her social and personal life in several different ways. This helped me realize that it is vital to heal properly when you encounter or witness a shocking incident because it is extremely easy to gradually develop PTSD without being aware of it. This anxiety disorder can take months or years to overcome and it is important to let others know that they can conquer this mental health condition.

Essentially, I believe that post-traumatic stress significantly affects our lives and the way we live because it causes us to lose our self identity, changes the way we behave, causes us to create new habits, and it disrupts our social and personal life. Traumatic events occur every single day and whether you actually experienced or witnessed it, these events can either help you grow as a person or it can negatively affect your life and cause you to develop PTSD. Remember to be extra careful when choosing how to cope and deal with your emotions. I would like to end this blog post with a wonderful, simplistic quote by Aldous Huxley: “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”

 Footnotes

[1] “Symptoms of PTSD”, http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/symptoms_of_ptsd.asp

[2] “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)”, http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

[3] & [4] Gayle Macdonald, “PTSD: Scans reveal soldiers’ brains stay in hyper-aroused state,” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/ptsd-scans-reveal-soldiers-brains-stay-in-hyper-aroused-state/article19056977/)/

[5] David Phillips, Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home, 18

[6] JAMA Network, “Association of Trauma and PTSD Symptoms With Openness to Reconciliation and Feelings of Revenge Among Former Ugandan and Congolese Child Soldiers”, http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=208207 (August 1, 2007)

[7] Emily Bui, “Big Events”, https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1bJPM_rrWjhB5OAvxxFY9tcjJOakUgHNv11W-pz7Ajjk/edit

Works Cited

“PTSD: National Center for PTSD.” Symptoms of PTSD –. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2014.

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” : Symptoms, Treatment and Self-Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2014.

“PTSD: Scans Reveal Soldiers’ Brains Stay in Hyper-aroused State.” The Globe and Mail. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.

Philipps, David. Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Print.

“Association of Trauma and PTSD Symptoms With Openness to Reconciliation and Feelings of Revenge Among Former Ugandan and Congolese Child Soldiers.” JAMA Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.

“One Account. All of Google.” Google Sheets. Emily Bui, n.d. Web. 09 June 2014.