5 Things I Wish Other People Knew
Updated: Oct 25, 2020
In my last blog post, I talked about 5 things I wish I had known about PTSD when it first arrived for our family. I hope if you found time to read it that you found it helpful.
It led me to start thinking about things I wish I could tell OTHER people. Things that I wish "outsiders" knew about PTSD, what it's like, and what to say/not say.
**NOTE** If you have done or said these things to someone in the past, this is not meant to shame you. We are humans and part of that is constant learning. This is just to hopefully help someone to be an even better support in the future.
1. READ THE ROOM
People have such loving hearts. And it's wonderful knowing that so many people care about how my spouse and I are doing. But if I've just run into you for the first time in months in the cereal aisle and I've got my kid with me, chances are I don't want to go into great deal about everything that is or isn't going on.
And side note: many kids might not be fully aware of what's going on with their parents. Don't be the one that forces a conversation that a parent isn't ready to have.
2. DON'T ASK WHAT'S WRONG
If you see someone who you know has PTSD, have an established relationship with them, and can see that something might be bothering them, don't ask "What's wrong?". They might not know. Or they might not want to tell you because to you it might not seem like a big deal. Instead, gently ask them if there is anything that they need in that moment. The simple act of you asking may just be enough to help them in that moment. Or they might ask for some water. Or they might just ask you to leave them alone. It's not personal - it's just what they need in that moment.
3. NOT EVERY DAY IS A BAD DAY
We have so many days that just feel "normal". It's not always dark and weary. But it has taken a while to get to this point. So if you see us out and it seems like a good day, help us keep it that way by keeping the conversation light. Ask us about the last movie we watched or if we have any travel plans for summer.
4. IF YOU DON'T HAVE PTSD, DON'T TRY TO RELATE
Everyone living with and navigating PTSD will have different experiences, different triggers, and different daily lives. When talking to someone with PTSD, don't try to relate it to something in your own life. If someone is telling you about their terrible night sleep last night, don't follow it with "OMG I know I'm such a monster if I don't get 9 hrs!". Not the same thing...at all. Instead try something like "That must be really difficult. I'm sorry you're experiencing that."
5. DON'T GIVE UNSOLICITED ADVICE
If someone with PTSD is feeling comfortable enough to talk to you, just listen. Having someone that is just willing to listen is huge. Don't offer up some sleep aid that your cousin's boss's uncle used. Chances are, they have looked into things that they are comfortable looking into at that point.
Are there things that you wish you more people knew about when it comes to living with and navigating PTSD? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Take care of yourself and be kind to one another,