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10:28 AM

PTSD - face it, do not fear it.

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I had a very interesting discussion with a dear friend of mine on whether people are innately evil, or if it is life's bitter experiences that makes them do evil things. The result was interesting, we ALL have the tendency to become cruel human beings, but at the end of the day, we all have a CHOICE. 
Just because we were abused and neglected as a child doesn't mean we have to become an abuser as an adult, or just because we had a mean mother-in-law doesn't mean we have to be mean to our kids as well. However, it is the responsibility of the adults in the child's life, to nurture his vulnerable mind and show him the better choices. 
We must also understand that people, especially children and youth, who go through extreme traumatic life experiences, may develop a condition called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is treatable as well as preventable. We must not shy away from it, but face it, treat it and conquer it.
The life experiences that can leave an ever lasting scar include rape, incest, abuse, neglect as a child, violence at home, terrorism and warfare, violent death of loved ones and continuous bullying. However, it is the nurturing by the family first, and then the society at large, that can either make a man or break a man. 
Research shows that most of the adult abusers, criminals, drug addicts and even murderers have disturbing pasts. Being abused themselves as a child or witnessing violence and crime at a very young age either makes them bitter and vengeful or that's the company they have always lived in so they do not "feel" they have a choice.
That is where our intervention comes in, to break the cycle, to remove the vulnerable from the disastrous situation.
We usually associate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with combat veterans who go through mental stress, depression and adjustment issues because of the extreme situations they witness and experience as military personnels. However that is not always the case. Anyone of any age, who experiences severe trauma in any form, be it abuse, neglect, kidnapping, torture, sexual assault, murder attempt, natural disaster, war or even as little as bullying or a burglary attempt can be afflicted by PTSD. 
A PTSD patient has flashbacks, nightmares, re-lives those terrifying moments and may develop depression and paranoia if not treated early. Depression is the feeling of sadness, hopelessness and unworthiness and one starts losing interest in every day activities of life. Paranoia is when distrust, severe anxiety and fear causes them to think negatively about everything, to the point of irrationality and delusion. 

PTSD can disrupt one's whole life, the job, relationships, health and enjoyment of everyday activities. Having PTSD also increases the risk of other mental health problems as stated earlier. 

After surviving a traumatic event, many people have PTSD-like symptoms at first, such as being unable to stop thinking about what's happened, fear, anxiety, anger, depression or guilt. However, majority of people exposed to trauma do not develop long-term post-traumatic stress disorder.

Getting timely help and support can help you recover and also prevent turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol and drug misuse. This means turning to family and friends who will listen and offer comfort, seeking out a mental health provider who offers psychotherapy and counseling and even turning to faith community that can be of tremendous help. 

We always have a choice to make our lives better, for ourselves and for others. Surrounding ourselves with positive people and helping those who suffer, can not only save one life but it can save the whole of humanity. So next time you see someone suffer, intervene. You may be the only option he has. 


1st August, 2015:  

CVC Kiwanis members are volunteering as chaperones for Soroptimist Back to School Shopping Spree for Kings County students. If you wish to support the cause, visit here for details.

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