Post-traumatic stress disorder is usually associated with post-war veterans who have experienced awful scenarios and situations repeatedly. People are used to the idea of ex-soldiers commonly having PTSD or similar issues, so much so that it has become a common stereotype. Many do not take the time to understand the real root of the problem or the many triggers that can cause it. To be clear, soldiers are not the only ones who suffer from PTSD. It is important that this myth does not continue to be propagated. PTSD can happen to anyone who has undergone a traumatic experience. Explaining that to others can sometimes be challenging. Here are some ways to approach this.

Different People, Different Trauma

The trauma one person experiences can be seemingly non-traumatic for any other person. There is no justified side in the process of deciding who had a worse experience that can lead to PTSD. This is because there is no such thing as a “worse experience”. For a soldier seeing an entire village being wiped out, or a common person seeing someone committing suicide, the experiences are very different. However, each situation can be equally stressful to each individual, in turn contributing in the development of the disorder. The trauma and triggers can be completely different for each person, making PTSD a challenging disorder to describe. If you suffer from PTSD, the process of explaining this to others can be difficult and frustrating. Using the right words and descriptions can help others understand what you are experiencing.

Choosing the Right Words

Describing what trauma essentially represents is quite difficult. Generally, it is a certain event or series of events and situations that change a person’s vision of themselves, as well as their place in the world. The feelings that follow after traumatic events make it hard for a person to lead a normal, everyday life. Such feelings include feeling worthless, useless, purposeless and undeserving. Using these words, or similar descriptive words to explain your current emotional state can help give others a clearer image of what is happening in a PTSD’s patients’ mind.

Describing Trauma

If you have already discussed what you are feeling with those you trust, there is likely to be a question such as ‘what was it like?’ or ‘what caused it?’ This moment can involve unintentional judgment, typically because others usually don’t think that events such as bullying, neglect, abandonment or verbal abuse, among other events, are “real” triggers of PTSD. Do not let other’s perceptions of your trauma undermine or invalidate your feelings.  Educate those around you. Although the events that you underwent may possibly seem inconsequential to others, to you it may have felt like the worst thing in the world. Explain that associated feelings of fear can cause avoidance of specific things connected to the trauma.

Be Understanding To Be Understood

Besides the help of a professional, it is important to connect with your loved ones. The closest people to you are the ones that will most likely take the time to listen and make honest attempts to understand. When you are ready to talk, choose a relaxing place where you can open up about your feelings without many interruptions. Try your best not to be discouraged or become frustrated if the person you are opening up to is not quite able to understand it all at once. Make it possible for them to ask additional questions. Be sure to give them time to process what you are telling them. As much as you want to be understood, you will also need to be understanding of others for whom the disorder you may be describing may seem like it is a thousand miles away.

How can you explain your symptoms to those who have no idea what PTSD is like?