7 Myths Veterans Have About Post Traumatic Stress

Although there are many myths related to Post Traumatic Stress, these are some of the most pervasive:

1. You only get it from combat.

Combat is only one of the reasons that veterans get Post Traumatic Stress. There are many other reasons that we can have it. Women veterans are more likely to have it when they are the victims of military sexual trauma than any other situation. This is because they feel a sense of betrayal because their attackers are often a co-worker or someone in the chain of command.

My problems have nothing to do with my time in service. I had it long before I joined. Because it went untreated and misdiagnosed for most of my life, it continued to get worse, and it will always continue to get worse until the roots of it are healed.

2. There is always a physical cause behind it.

Only about 10 percent of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan actually have a physical cause attached to their illness. Post Traumatic Stress is a form of depression, and because of it, it is a form of mental illness, not a disease. Because it isn’t a disease, it cannot be treated. It can only be healed.

Factors that affect Post Traumatic Stress include low self esteem, living in the past by reliving the events and by not resolving the triggers feelings and emotions behind those events.

3. The only treatment options are medication and lifetime disability.

Many studies have been published over the last few years that show that medication is not the answer and often makes the situation worse. Because this is often not a physical illness, it cannot be resolved through physical means. It requires the veteran to explore his/her complete trauma history in order to identify the triggers and issues so that effective healing modalities may be used.

Some effective healing modalities include meditation and talk therapy where the veteran uncovers the underlying feelings and emotions that are causing pain. Veterans Affairs offers various classes that give veterans the opportunity to learn how to more effectively deal with the issues in their lives.

4. If you have PTSD no one else could possibly understand and your version of it is unique.

Although each of us has a unique trauma history because each of us is unique, the feelings and emotions behind those traumas are usually the same. These emotions include shame, guilt, sadness, rage, frustration and fear. When we fully experience those feelings and validate them they can then begin to heal.

5. Once you have Post Traumatic Stress, there is no way to get rid of it.

Post Traumatic Stress has a beginning. Because it has a beginning, it can have an end, a resolution. Effectively healing it means finding ways to effectively heal those feelings and emotions behind it. No veteran has to be crippled for the rest of his/her life.

6. PTSD is a disease.

Disease is defined as “a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.” If PTSD were a disease, it would have specific symptoms and be easy to diagnose. It doesn’t, and because of it, it is often misdiagnosed. In my case, it was diagnosed as biploar disorder, and I got worse, not better. Had I stopped cycling through my emotions and simply experienced and validated them, I wouldn’t have had the extreme ups and downs I had. My emotions would have stabilized.

7. The problem is the event or events that cause the stress.

The problem isn’t the event. If it were, then everyone who experienced the event would have PTSD. The real problems are the emotions and feelings behind the event or events and how the person handles stress. If the person doesn’t have healthy emotional skills to deal with the stress, he/she is more likely to develop PTSD.

Understand, none of this is meant to minimize the events. The events that we experience that lead to PTSD are traumas. They are traumatic and horrible. My point is really simple though: even though these experiences are traumatic, it is not the events themselves that are causing us pain. It is about how we feel about these events, how we experienced those events and the feelings and emotions we attached to those events.

If you are a veteran who struggles with Post Traumatic Stress, I highly encourage you to explore this issue on your own and learn the truth. Draw your own conclusions and take your own steps to heal. This is the only path to resolving your issues so you may heal and live the life you fought for.

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