PTSD. It’s mentioned in the news almost every day now. This morning, on NPR, they said that it was thought the doctors at Joint Base Lewis McChord had changed the diagnosis of around 40% of their patients initially diagnosed with PTSD because there was the possibility they might be faking it. I remember another NPR report, 2 or 3 years ago, on this very same issue — although it did not focus exclusively JBLM.
I have no idea what the men and women who suffer from this are going through. I have NO concept of what these people have seen or what they have been through to cause it. On what I would think of as a ‘smaller scale,’ I have suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia. I have dealt with people who did not understand my fears — and, just so you know, telling me to “get over it” did not help. As a matter of fact, it often made it worse. I felt helpless and alone. The people telling me to “get over it” certainly showed no sympathy or compassion to my plight. I can’t even imagine the fear and anxiety the people suffering from PTSD must feel on a daily basis — let alone when they are sent back into combat.
One of the thoughts that sprang to my mind when I first heard the report a few years ago was this: Even if a person is faking it to try to get out of going back to a combat zone, would you want that person covering your back in a fire fight? I don’t think so. If they don’t want to be there that badly, I’m not sure I’d feel I could rely on them. Forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do is not always the best plan. Someone who is that afraid may not be capable of making rational decisions in life and death situations.
In my junior year of high school, agoraphobia reared its ugly head. We had no idea what the problem was – only that I did not want to leave the house. When I was forced to go to school – I was usually home by noon. And had probably been in the nurse’s office most of the morning. When I was told that no one would come pick me up if I called from school – you couldn’t get me out the front door of my house. Tough love needed to be tempered with compassion. My parents were totally frustrated, so the “tough love” often showed up more than the “compassion” during this time.
So how did I get through my ordeal? Prayer, mostly. I do still have panic attacks – but very rarely compared to what it was like before. A trip to the dentist office can spark one. *lol* The agoraphobia? Pretty much gone. I refuse to allow myself to be totally trapped by it again. I don’t like to be home alone at night and I won’t drive very far by myself, but those are the only leftovers from it. And to be honest, I’m not sure those are totally bad things. What can be done for those suffering with PTSD? Medically, I have no idea. I’m not a doctor/nurse and have no training in that field. But I do believe we need to be praying for our soldiers. They are going into situations that we can’t even grasp in our wildest imaginations. We also need to pray for their doctors that God gives them the wisdom to make the right diagnosis/decisions.
Please don’t think I’m insinuating in any way that my panic attacks/agoraphobia are equal to PTSD. I don’t believe that. What I do believe is that because of what I’ve gone through, I have an inkling of the fear/anxiety they deal with. And I can empathize to a certain extent.
Prayer and compassion. That’s what is needed. Not just to those with PTSD, agoraphobia, etc. But to everyone, in every situation.