If you are a trauma survivor and someone has sent you an article with this title, that seems to of gone Viral, and it sparked a sense of hopelessness along with some anger, you are not alone. You see I would love to speak JUST to the Veteran/ First responder community on this, but the more you actually study, and live out trauma, it is essentially the same across the board. The way it affects you etc. You eat bad chicken, you get food poisoning, eat old salad, the same. The cause is different, the effect is the same, you get it.
Lets face it, we love our Service men and women when they are willing to get in harms way to keep us safe. It's easy to donate to that Veteran organization to give you “ all the feels.” But the reality is, there is no monetary amount, good vibes , or cute social media posts that are going to aid in anyone's recovery from trauma . It has also been said that, “Well, they knew what they were getting into when they signed up for what they did.” Really? Thats the equivilant to asking the rape survivor what He/She was wearing prior to….. It's wrong, and outdated.
Many of our Nations finest that have served most likely has been in some sort of team capacity. Ding ding! TEAM. No one goes into the fray alone, you die quick, and you die alone. But all of a sudden this “Healing Journey,” and right of passage is our sole responsibility? Heaven forbid someone gets cancer, is in a horrific car crash, or loses everything in a fire. Tragic, very. We start up the gofund me pages, get the right hashtags, run the 5ks and rally in support. We try to drum up as much attention as we possibly can, some even capitalizing from it. But trauma, that unseen thing, that you were not there for, you didn't see the pictures, you didn't taste it, smell it , feel it. They look OK right? The behaviour of trauma survivors tend be one of which isn't the most pleasant inside societal norms, to be around. Addiction, relationship problems, anger, sleep disorders, and the list goes on. Not very fun to “deal” with, now is it.
Let’s just take this approach again of our own little healing journey. One of the number one behaviours that happens prior to suicide is, you guessed it, isolation. Not only is the trauma survivor trying to make sense of a horrid pain both mentally and physically, but we see the impact it has on the ones we love. We fought and defended for those WE DID NOT EVEN KNOW. So why in the world would we not for the ones we love? This is a constant dialogue inside the mind of the survivor. The constant explanation of why they are this way are, its tiring. Go ahead and ask anyone you know that battles PTS or other invisible illnesses. “Get over it, snap out of it, it doesn't look like anything is wrong with you.” Besides this just being ignorant at best, it is a direct throat punch to the trauma survivor. Do you really think anyone wants to feel this way. Most people that look at our Service Members think; stoic, strong, fearless, resilient. We are, but we are also human. There is nothing, I mean nothing that will prep anyone for the horrors they must endure.
There are a lot of people reading this right now hopefully thinking, “This is exactly right, see!” Here is where I take the advice from a dear friend. “I am not here to co-sign your BS.” This is on US, the survivor. It is your responsibility to ask for help. It is your responsibility to keep moving forward, no matter how little it may seem. It is your responsibility to believe in yourself enough to be able to heal. Have an appointment? Show up. Have a group to attend, show up. Lets face it, a lot of us have the mentality that we “did enough.” Yes, yes we did do enough, more than most will do in a lifetime, but it’s time to be a productive, awesome, contributing member of society. That’s what we protected, right? So why is our work done now? It’s not. You have such a great purpose to fulfill in this beautiful, confusing, one time life. Find your purpose again, and keep moving forward.
Yes, we do have responsibilities when it comes to healing, but I have not heard of, nor witnessed anyone that has healed alone. Ask Wilson, in the movieCast Away, ...kidding.It's time to not keep bottle up anymore. Take some action, find a Team, get rooted in a Church, re-engage with your family, whatever it is, just don’t do it alone. No one should be left alone battling what is happening in there mind. We were created for community. Imagine a child just being born, well into their teenage years. Imagine if they were just left alone, to figure everything out. I know that may sound extreme, but in reality trauma rewires you, and everything needs to be rewired. We as survivors get it, and in reality it is embarrassing. Knowing what we were, and now….this. I am asking you, begging you, do not do it alone. Surround yourself with individuals who only propel you forward. To those supporters out there, take some initiative, be patient, and love them. We desperately need it