Day 9 of 30 days in June for PTSD Awareness and the PTSD Poetry Project
Blog post previously posted in 2015 on USFRA.org
Relapse approached me
I held it at bay with a strong fence
Relapse surprised me when I least expected it
Ones who I thought were ‘safe’
The place I was told was a ‘safe place’
I sat in my car shaking with anger
The weight of fear keeping me down
I looked in the mirror
The girl’s eyes in the reflection were filled with sadness
Disheartened I started the car
I drove away and wanted to miss the exit and never go home
I wanted to get away
Work done in secret
Hard, painful appointments of the worst kind
No one knew how hard this was to do
Memories overwhelmed me, filled me with fear
Yet I still pushed to heal, to get strong
I thought this strength, this hard path
I thought it would have earned me respect
Instead it brought ridicule
Instead it brought the pain of rejection
Instead of respect I was belittled and told…
“These kind of things don’t happen to people like you”
Upon the wave of those discounting words
I was treated, not with respect but with ridicule
Pushing until they triggered a response
Pushing only to make fun of me
Pushing until I was back in that terrible place
Again I broke as if it were all happening again
I had asked for help
I needed help
Instead I was served the cold plate of STIGMA
And expected to like it.
PTSD + Medical Gaslighting = The STIGMA
Posted by Bree N. on March 29, 2015 (USFRA.org)
Two weeks ago I had an appointment at which I experienced yet another bout of “medical gaslighting”, This has shown me it is still alive and thriving well. It cause me to nearly relapse and to experience an anger so out of control I really didn’t know what to do with it.
In an attempt to gain control of so many things out of control I did what so many women do. I colored my hair. Oh, it wasn’t the ‘touch up the roots’ (which I needed) it was an extreme just go for it kind of decision which ended up being a two day 4-5 hour ordeal.
I know men often think this is frivolous. But hey, men have got their ‘frivolous’ things too. Actually it was an outward expression of trying to gain control. The message is clear “you don’t control me, you don’t get to belittle my PTSD or TBI or my Medical History.I AM IN CHARGE OF ALL THAT IS ME.”
I understood this happened. I knew this “gaslighting” thing was alive and well. I know it goes on at all the jobs everyone holds in uniform or not. I got it before and I get it now.
Online I keep seeing the Stop the Stigma campaign and to me, for me it’s just not about stopping the stigma, or raising awareness it’s about paying attention to people’s moment when they ask for help.
All we ever see is the end result of someone not getting help, of waiting until what they are trying to survive with inside them has broken every relationship possible. Family, spousal, work and faith it’s all gone.
I sat in my car after this appointment trying very hard to see any ‘wins’ in the appointment. It was very difficult to find any yet I did. Do they outweigh the negatives? no, it puts me in a position of feeling I have to ‘clock’ this doctor every time I might go back and will I go back? Probably not. Here’s the thing, it is not my JOB to educate this doctor, it is not my JOB to do his JOB for him I am PAYING good money for his services.
I lived for a near decade with I survived. I waited for going on 9 years after the event causing my PTSD. I’d asked for help, asked others I knew getting help how to get help many many times.
Right now, today I am so angry at all the time lost saying ‘I need help, I’m not OKAY’ and being told ‘Oh, you’re fine, you’re doing a good job’. As if I’d asked for a job review? Or worse to be told ‘You seem fine to me’. Or even the most disheartening of all things…
“you just want attention”
oh, the F-bombs fly high and hard with this particular one. Responding to them only caused more of those comments, see? you’re just a: ‘drama queen’, etc…it goes on.
IT IS NOT OKAY TO MAKE FUN OF SOMEONE WITH PTSD
IT IS NOT OKAY TO USE PTSD AS A JOKE OR TO BELITTLE THE PERSON WHO IS DIAGNOSED WITH PTSD
IT IS NOT OKAY TO NOT HELP SOMEONE WHEN THEY ASK FOR HELP.
Right now, today I don’t feel very ‘healing’ I just feel angry.
The STIGMA ends when the medical community as a whole stops ‘gaslighting’ their patients and when they stop allowing it to be an acceptable response. Going to a new medical professional which is supposed to be a ‘safe place'( but I’m here to tell you it is not) Going to a new doctor and to have them ‘gaslight’ your medical history which they know nothing about until you tell them it is NOT acceptable.
The Stigma Stops only when it becomes UNacceptable to belittle PTSD.
Stop “gaslighting” PTSD and perhaps those who need help will actually ASK for help before it’s far far too late and they’ve lost everything meaningful in their lives and feel it is no longer ‘worth it’ to get help.