It took me years to realize how much having PTSD for 25 years affected the people around me. Often times the people that I care about the most. If you are suffering from PTSD I assure you in addition to the harm that this sickness causes you that it is hurting your friends and family. Anyone who is in close proximity to you will be affected by your PTSD. Sorry, I don’t want to be a downer but I do want to encourage you to seek treatment so you can get better, live in peace and begin the inventory of personal relationships that may need healing. This is very difficult and often you may not see the damage your sickness has caused. The difficulty in seeing the damage caused by your sickness is another reason to seek the guidance of a therapist who is trained AND experienced in treating trauma victims.
Did you know PTSD is contagious? It is true. You cannot catch PTSD from someone sneezing or blowing their nose and not washing their hands. However, those nearest to you can “catch” PTSD from you due to your behavior. Will, they catch a serious case of PTSD? Maybe. Maybe not. It is almost assured that they will be damaged emotionally. As you begin to get better and receive healing from PTSD it becomes a little easier to see the damage you have caused to others.
I don’t want to hit you over the head with this fact but simply to cause all those with PTSD to understand that many other people are affected by how PTSD causes you to live your life. This can be a friend or group of friends that after inviting you to many functions without you showing up simply stop inviting you or having any hope that you will ever show up. I understand that this is because you are sick with PTSD and the thought of going out into an uncontrolled environment scares the shit out of you. The problem is, however, those people probably do not understand that this is the reason why. Almost every relationship you have will bear some of the damage that PTSD causes. Your coworkers, friends, family members, etc.
My PTSD has damaged my relationship with my children. During my EMDR treatment, I went to both of my kids and explained why I had been such an asshole so many times. They deserved an explanation for my distant and seemingly uncaring attitude. Repairing these relationships takes time and intense effort on your part. My PTSD affected my beautiful wife in a huge way. Imagine being married to a hyper-vigilant, angry, terrified and distracted person for years and years. It takes its toll on all of your relationshups.
Here is the good news. Those relationships can be restored most of the time. Sadly, not all of the time. Our responsibility to those we have harmed is, to be honest, and contrite. We must work consciously and diligently to bring peace and healing to these relationships. While it is true that some relationships are permanently damaged by this disorder (more accurately an injury to the brain) not all are irreparably harmed. In fact, I believe that most of those relationships can be repaired and even become stronger. Keep your head up. Remember you are a survivor. Face the relationships that need to be repaired with humility, honesty and the firm resolve to own your stuff and work as hard as you can to allow them to heal. After years of PTSD induced behavior, it may take a while for these relationships and these people to forgive you. Just as you probably weren’t aware of the damage you were causing the people who were affected may not be fully aware of the scope of the damage that has been done to them.
Let’s move forward and be at peace with everyone if it is at all possible. Once again remember you are a survivor and after the darkness, the sun does shine…every day.