It’s a pretty plain fact that when one member of a family has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other members of the family feel it in one way or another. This isn’t as terrible as it might sound to some. If one member of the family has a bad day at work, it’s going to affect other members of the family in some way. If one person wins the lottery, that is going to affect other members of the family–hopefully because he shares the wealth and not because he runs away with a supermodel. In any case, families are units. What happens to one person will affect the others. So when someone experiences trauma and develops PTSD, those who love her will feel some effects as well. This guest post by freelance writer Avery Phillips talks about some of the ways we can relieve the burden of that stress, and help the ones we love deal with trauma while also staying healthy ourselves.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.
Letting go is hard. When my mom was a young teenager, her family left Cuba in disgrace. In 1966, the Revolution was over, Fidel Castro was in power, and many of the changes that would prove him a ruthless dictator were already taking place. My grandparents were both teachers–intellectuals were reviled in communist Cuba because they were considered among the most outspoken against the new regime. Before she left, my mom saw signs posted around the campus where her father taught, declaring him a traitor. The government seized their house, and they were only able to bring two suitcases among the five of them. I’ve never seen a picture of my mom as baby for this reason. On the airplane, she had to surrender her Cuban passport for refugee admissions to the United States. To this day, she has never again set foot in Cuba.
Some people like to say that everything happens for a reason, but when it comes to suicide attempts, that line of thinking suggests some lives are more valuable than others. That some people are more deserving of life than others. But there is no “reason” to mental illness and suicide. Life, death and the trappings that come in between are not doled out based on who deserves what.