A special post for PTSD Awareness Month
June is PTSD Awareness Month, and yesterday, June 27th, was PTSD Awareness Day. Although I feel annoyed that awareness months only last for one month a year; afterall, those of us with PTSD have to be aware of it nonstop, day-in day-out, I am also grateful that more people are taking the time to learn about the disorder. Combat trauma has headlined the PTSD discussion for years. Physical and sexual assault are finally getting some attention, with natural disasters and emergency workers beginning to get a share of notice as well. We are, however, still in somewhat of a dark age when it comes to emotional factors in PTSD. Earlier this week I posted a two part true story by Genelle Chaconas about how they overcame emotional abuse. Today, I want to discuss post traumatic emotional neglect, and my experiences with it.
We often think of emotional neglect as something which occurs between parents and children, or within marriages, but it can occur within any relationship in which emotional bonding and attention is reasonably expected. For those of us living with PTSD, support is crucial to recovery. When we don’t get the support we need, when we experience post traumatic emotional neglect, we suffer very serious consequences.
Often, emotional neglect is unintended. People are busy. Everyone, mentally ill or not, traumatized or not, experiences stress and disappointment. Although we take pride, as a species, in our empathic abilities, humans are also inherently selfish. It’s part of our survival mechanism. Sometimes emotional neglect is an intended tactic used by abusers, but often it just happens. Friends forget to reach out. Family members get overwhelmed by their disappointed expectations. Stigma takes over. And those of us living with a trauma history fall to the wayside.
This post isn’t about placing blame on anyone. It certainly isn’t about calling out my friends for not “being there” enough for me. I am as much to blame-if not more-for the distance between my friends and I. Even if you see yourself reflected within it, it’s not about being passive aggressive or calling you out. It’s about my feelings, and how emotional neglect and rejection exacerbate trauma symptoms.