If there is one thing I've learned through all of this it is that there are people suffering in silence, everywhere. In our small towns and communities, in our big cities, on battlefields, in police cars, classrooms, private homes, corporations, universities, and the list goes on and on.
The issues of trauma, post-traumatic stress, and traumatic brain injury are not reserved for just a few. They are equal opportunity human experiences that go well beyond the conditioning of our cultures, social norms, skin color, country of origin, and so on. As humans, many people are suffering and the lessons I have learned from my experiences, coupled with those of our American troops, the twelve years of hundreds of kids passing through my classroom door, and the myriad of clients I see..............the problem is a big one, but not an impossible one.
It's so easy to be striving for an answer, but to feel that there isn't one coming quickly enough. The answer to these issues, the recovery from these conditions, and the education of how to heal doesn't come quickly. It grows with one realization and one step at a time.
Although I wanted a quick fix to make it better, one wasn't offered to me; actually the opposite was offered. I was told by a doctor and a professor to give up because they couldn't determine how long it would take me to get better. Well, one thing I am is strong and I was not going to take that as a solution. I don't believe in giving up and I don't believe in giving in. I believe in seeking understanding and education. This approach has served its' purpose loud and strong. I now see that my ability to take that approach is now helping many, many others. I've stepped beyond the stigma of these issues and am opening the door for others to do the same.
There are many ways that we can help ourselves. Many of these little ways are behind the scenes. They are things you don't have to advertise to the world. They aren't things that you have to ask permission to do or ask anyone else's opinion about. Remember, when you get on a plane the flight attendant doesn't tell you to ask your neighbors permission to put your own oxygen mask on first. You just do it.
Do your homework on how you are feeling and although you may not know the why's, keeping track of patterns of behavior is important. You can learn so much by simply paying attention. This then gives you some educated information to share with your counselors and doctors. Remember, they are not going home with you. They can only work with the knowledge they have about the conditions and what you tell them. Help them to help you.
These issues are about the human condition and as far as I am concerned, I see no difference between me suffering, you suffering, or someone overseas suffering. PTSD is about re-experiencing trauma. We would be nieve to think that only happens here. Our troops have worked hand in hand with those of other countries and I've heard some very positive stories about those interactions. As an example, the troops in the UK have gone home to their families and are suffering just like our troops here. I've read a number of articles about the work being done to support wounded and suffering troops over there. There's work to be done all over the world and as I have said on a number of occasions, I'm very aware of the difficulties the world is struggling with, but my focus is on helping others heal........even if it is only one person at a time.
I have the troops to thank for that.
They showed me that my time with them mattered and that I had the ability to make a difference for them and many others.