What some PTSD Suffers need others to know
We understand that some of you wish nothing more than to help and reduce the burden this disorder has on those that they occupy but before you can help, you must first understand just what is happening to that person you love so much and would give anything to help but can’t. First you must realize that it is not all about you and stop thinking that you are failing because you can’t help. It is and always will be about the person suffering but when you switch it and make it all about you, the help that you could have given is no longer welcomed by the one who is doing the suffering. If you wish to help, I mean truly want to help then listen closely as I tell you what you can do.
First get over yourself and realize that only those who want help will take it and not everyone who asks for help really want it. The best you can do in this situation is to listen without judging and without conversation. Just listen as they talk because the more they talk the less of a hold PTSD will have on them. Listen to what is being said and how it is being said. The emphasis or actions of those suffering display will determine how animated or anxious they are feeling and trying to have them tell you makes the situation worse because often times they don’t know the words to properly explain what they are feeling. Just shut up and listen period.
Next know that as long as they have someone who will listen and not pre-judge them, the times that they need alone to reflect, to morn and to cry is not an indication of anything but an emotion so suppressed that it is now forced to make its way to the surface. You see those who suffer may have been suppressing these emotions for so long that like any substance that is kept tightly under pressure, will eventually erupts. What you need to do in that case is to let them know that it is okay and stand aside to allow them the time to grieve. They could be grieving the loss of something or someone. They could be grieving the loss of an opportunity but they also could be grieving the loss of control which is often times the case. Control over our emotions and our actions. Control over how our life is going and how it has gone. Control over why they feel like they do and no real way to stop it. Many will try drugs and alcohol to mask the pain and stop this phase of PTSD all the while knowing that drugs and alcohol only adds to the situation and can make it worst.
Let them re-integrate back into the family under their own steam and stop trying to make things better by forcing reintegration or applying pressure on them to reintegrate. It takes a lot to become normal after a traumatic event and often times we never make it but it is not because we do not want to or might even need to. It is simply because, for some of us, the definition that we had before that traumatic event may have been changed regarding what is normal after that event. Some of us deal with multiple events that are traumatic and while many who wish to help can only focus on one thing, PTSD can bring all of those events together in one single moment. This makes the suffer feel more overwhelmed than ever before and the images and feelings flow through them like a deluge of untamed water through a hose. It can’t be stopped with anything including drugs or alcohol and all that the suffer can do is ride it out.
The ride can be successful and often is because many times through this carnival ride, the helper never knows that the suffer is on it. Sometimes when your suffer gets extremely quiet and seems to be drifting off in space, don’t attempt to pull them back or get their attention, just simply stop what you are doing and wait. They will return because they will look over and see you patiently waiting on their return. This will do more for suffers of PTSD than anyone could ever realize. Sometimes when you say nothing is when you say the most.