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.
I stared at the ceiling as wakefulness poisoned my body. That’s really what it felt like: poison. My limbs felt as though they had anchors tied to them. Rising from the bed was an Olympic feat. By the time I was fully awake, my joints ached, my heart panged with relentless, unnameable sorrow, and my mind was bloated with anxiety and self-loathing.
That was how I started my day every day for years when I lived with untreated depression. I’m not alone. The World Health Organization estimates that over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression each year. Over half of those people are women.
I write a lot about my post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction, but not as much about my depression–at least not directly. But depression is a serious matter, even without other conditions compounding it. Even before I was traumatized, before I touched any drugs, depression controlled my life in many ways. Depression is probably why I became involved with an abusive man. Depression probably led me to start taking drugs. Without depression, I probably wouldn’t have the other problems I have. Despite that, It took me years to recognize my depression, and even longer to do anything about it.
I am honored to introduce Andolina as this month’s Parenting with Mental Illness interviewee. She’s a beautiful young mother who lives with Major Depressive Disorder and moderate anxiety. She also lost her father to suicide. I can only imagine what that kind of loss is like, and I thank her for her sharing her story here on Betty’s Battleground. It breaks my heart to hear about yet another woman whose birthday has been ruined possibly forever–this time by a tragic loss.
A person recently left a very interesting comment on my blog post about forgiving our loved ones who commit suicide. She (I’m actually not sure of the person’s gender, but am using “she” for the sake of clarity) noted that she had lost her spouse to suicide several years back. Then she asked me to re-write my post to exclude the term “commit suicide.” She informed me that there is now a movement to have people say “died by suicide” rather than “commit suicide,” due to negative connotations associated with the word commit, and the idea that suicide is an act for which the victim is not culpable.
I’m familiar with these kinds of language movements. There’s one also in place around the word “addict,” for which I’ve had several losing battles with editors on the titles and language within certain of my articles. My problem here is that I’m not sure I agree. I don’t agree that the word commit is inherently negative, nor do I agree that people who attempt suicide have no volition whatsoever. They’re ill, usually, but if we say they have no power, that can be dangerous to people struggling with suicidal ideations. Is our commitment stronger to the living, or the deceased? I do believe we should respect and honor those who lost their lives to suicide. I do believe in awareness. I don’t know how I stand on the language. Will you leave your thoughts in the comments?