Though not yet an official diagnosis according to the American Psychiatric Association, complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is being informally recognized as a more severe form of PTSD caused by prolonged trauma. Often, that trauma begins in childhood. Trauma that takes place during a person’s formative years is incredibly damaging. It establishes a sense of normalcy around abuse, creating a harmful pattern that can be extremely difficult to break from–or even recognize. The earlier the trauma begins, the more difficult it becomes for the victim to understand her experience as abnormal.
“Once an addict, always an addict.” This gem from the 12-step drug addiction recovery cult is one of the most harmful sentences to ever be wedged into our society, along with every other sentiment that mischaracterizes anyone who’s ever used drugs as a degenerate, selfish, walking disease. Families are being torn apart by the idea that someone who has struggled with addiction will always struggle with addiction. Families are being ruined by the misinformation that anyone who uses drugs ever is incompetent. My family is being ruined by drug use stigma. My life, my heart, and my soul are being torn apart by your blind miseducation.
I mean that, of course, as a general “you.” I don’t know who you actually are, you who are reading this. You could be the most enlightened person on this planet. You could be Shilo Jama, who runs the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance and has the most accurate views on drug use and addiction I’ve ever encountered. Or you could be someone who shares similar views. But “you” as a whole–society as a whole–are blind to the realities of drug addiction and drug use. Worse, society doesn’t care to fix it’s blindness.
Thoughts of suicide are common in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and other mental illnesses, or who are going through hardship in life. Although suicidal ideations are fairly common, they do not in and of themselves indicate that a person will actually commit suicide. That does not, however, mean they should be ignored. Even if a person is claiming thoughts of suicide “just to get attention,” those claims should always be listened to and responded to with compassion, care, and support–preferably in-person support. Ignoring suicidal “cries for attention” can lead to actual suicide.Responding can be as simple as sitting in a room with the person, holding them, sleeping near them, or giving them a hug. If you can’t be physically with them, phone calls or texts are the next best solution. But this is in response to suicidal feelings and ideations. If someone is truly suicidal, then being left alone is never an appropriate response (unless, of course, you hope for that person to die–let’s hope there’s nobody out there whose friends and family actually want them to die).