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PTSD Label A Problem?

December 14, 2012

What about the PTSD label?  “I was diagnosed with PTSD and now I am having a hard time getting a job”.  Employers may be reluctant to hire people with PTSD, so, this being said, why would anyone want to have this PTSD label?  I understand this issue completely.  This is why many would prefer to not get diagnosed as a  PTSD sufferer because the stigma associated with it.

While we are in the military having PTSD means we feel it means we are weak or unable to cope or somehow less of the ideal soldier. It could influence my possible promotions in the future. When we leave the military PTSD brands us as a loose cannon or hothead or someone to fear.

I think this is a chicken and the egg situation but in a bad way.  We don’t want to have the diagnosis so we do not seek help for our disorder.  By not seeking help the PTSD the problem gets worse because it is kept under wraps and the pain and symptoms become more of a problem.  Then the problem gets so bad that it becomes more and more difficult to hide.  Finally the PTSD sufferer need artificial help to try and cover up the pain.  This new phase comes in the form of alcohol or drugs to help cover and soothe.  Now it is the alcohol and drugs and poor job performance that keep employers away.

This blog is an alternative to all that.  Though it doesn’t offer a job, it does allow for an alternative to shoving everything down and not dealing with it.  You can get your feelings out.  My wife is a psychologist and I have asked her, “How long does someone have to talk about something until they feel satisfied that they have dealt with it?”  She answered, “As long as they need to.”

Lets see, I’ve been either keeping a diary or blogging about my PTSD issues on and off since I left Vietnam in 1969.  That is over 40 years and I continue to do it.  Currently the posting aren’t really as much for me but for others who follow me.  It still is really liberating to get my feelings out.  I liken it to my First Confession when I was a young boy.  At that time I took religion seriously and when I went in to talk to, and confess to the priest, I actually walked out feeling lighter.   My wife calls this feeling validating.  Someone listens to, appreciates your struggle and validates the feelings.

The blog is an ingenious invention.  Many of the posts here are not mine, at all, and yet they could be.  In some way I have experienced the same pain.  PTSD affects all, who suffer from it, in the same ways.  Our circumstances and experiences are different but we are all comrades in the PTSD club and intuitively we know what the other person doing the posting means, no matter the words.  By reading and posting, we are reaching others and encouraging them to speak and write for both themselves and others.

Maybe this will be the ultimate PTSD answer. This will act as our group therapy where we can come and vent. We can confess and absolve ourselves from the burden and pain we all are feeling or have felt. No one to criticize, no one to answer to. This is just me, or you, wrestling with this elusive pain, this insidious feeling in us, that needs to find its way to the surface.