PTSD is Contagious!

I’m still not sure how I got PTSD. I washed my hands after every time I came in contact with someone that had it. I used hand sanitizer, wore a protective breathing mask, and even kept my distance. Somehow I still contracted PTSD. Maybe it’s airborne, maybe that’s how I got it. Maybe I was sitting at a table with someone that had PTSD and they breathed on me. Maybe I touched a door handle that was infected by a PTSD sufferer. I’ll bet I loaned my ink pen to someone with PTSD and got infected that way. I’m not loaning my pen to anyone, anymore, ever again.

Does that sound silly? Of course it does. Mental illness is not spread like an infectious disease. But there are still so many people out in the world that don’t understand that. Those of us that suffer from any mental illnesses are sometimes looked at differently. People who don’t understand will often avoid the issue of mental illness with a sufferer. Perhaps they don’t know what to say or don’t want to trigger anything to make it worse. Maybe they don’t want to ‘catch’ the illness.

I can only speak for myself, but from what I’ve been reading, I think this is true for most of us that suffer from any mental illnesses. Don’t treat me differently. Don’t be afraid to ask me questions, either about my PTSD, depression, life, or my military service in Iraq or Afghanistan. Hey. Maybe that’s where I caught PTSD. I’ll bet it’s because I didn’t take my malaria pills daily like I was supposed to. Damn it. I think we figured it out, I wasn’t taking my Doxycycline Hyclate. If I had just taken my Doxy, maybe I wouldn’t have to take these other medications now.

But I digress. Back to whatever it was that I was talking about a minute ago. Don’t avoid me. Engage me, ask me questions. But give me space when I need it. Support my road to recovery by doing some research about what ails me. Help others understand that those of that suffer from mental illness are still normal, just a different kind of normal, our own normal. Understand that my memory is horrible. Understand that my brain does not work like it used to, but it still works, just differently from the way yours might work.

Things have changed for me since being diagnosed with PTSD and major depression. I see things in a different light now. I take medications and go to therapy. Both of those help. Once I decided to share publicly with what I deal with in my life now, It felt like a weight being lifted off of me. I’m pretty messed up in the head sometimes, but I actually feel better about it now than ever before. None of this is totally new. Well, the diagnosis is new, but the symptoms have been with me for years.

In 2011, a year and half after coming home from Iraq, I talked my way out of being labeled with PTSD. I convinced the doctor that I was ok and was ‘let off with a warning’, like I was getting out of a speeding ticket or something. It was noted that I had symptoms of post-traumatic stress and ‘situational’ depression, but would not have to carry the label of PTSD. That was a relief. I didn’t want that label. I was in denial and I was proud to have dodged that bullet. In 2013, because of the 2011 incident, I had to get a psychiatrist’s approval to be able to deploy again. I honestly thought I was fine since I didn’t officially have the label of PTSD. The doctor agreed and I deployed again, this time to Afghanistan.

I know that was my last deployment and that my time in the U.S. Army Reserves will be coming to an end at some point due to physical and mental issues. And I’m ok with that now. I had only came to the realization that the army will be fine without me after my failed suicide attempt last year, and that I can live my new normal life, whatever normal is. I think normal is overrated. I’ve embraced being crazy, it’s a lot of fun. I know, the term ‘crazy’ isn’t politically correct. But neither am I.

As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy, give feedback, share if you like. Good day, God bless.

Dave

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50 thoughts on “PTSD is Contagious!

  1. I have an anxiety disorder. Some might say to calm down and quit worrying. Trust me, if I could I would. The stress that goes along with it is no picnic. Probably should have been on meds years ago. Instead my ex labeled me crazy like my mom. She has been diagnosed with bipolar. He still tries to use that shit against me. I am human, not perfect. Not alone in my struggles. Different. Different than him. Too bad they don’t make an asshole pill for him. One day at a time I say. And thank you for your heroism and service.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Let’s all embrace our crazy together. And I love and agree with your message. Talk to me. Engage me. Ask me. The best support we can give someone is by acknowledging what they’ve been through. Keep telling your story, it will help to heal another.

    Liked by 3 people

      • For very different reasons, I also suffer from PTSD. I knew I wasn’t well, but tried to convince everyone else that I was just fine. Even though my therapist thought an out patient program would really help me, I just couldn’t figure out how I could possibly miss so much work. Blogging has also become one step in my healing process. I hope that it feels as liberating for you as it does for me! Best of luck to you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Most definitely. I’m addicted to my blog now. Lol. But I do it as self therapy, making sure I post every Saturday. Gives me something to think about.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. it is an interesting phenomenon, but most who have gone through great trauma, whatever it may be, come out the other side with symptoms of that ordeal. On the bright side… those that recognize they have been through this, and become open with it, are the ones who become healed and strong for the next batch of souls that have been dragged through the conflict.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Americans treat people with ANY illness, mental and physical, this way. I feel it has to do with the fact that we are not taught (in many cases) to have compassion and kindness to people different from us. That goes also for people from different ethnic backgrounds, religious backgrounds, socio-economic…well you get the idea. At young ages, kids bully and separate these people and it’s hard for other kids to stand up and protect the ‘outsiders’. There is a tide turning hopefully, but the stigma is still here. We must all speak out when we see someone being hurt (like you) by someone’s ignorance or unkindness. Often is may just be that they don’t know. If you can take the opportunity to educate these folks and touch their hearts, it sends out the ripples that change the world!! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Although I don’t have PTSD…that I know of. I can certainly see a lot of similarities with how I feel as well. I commend you for coming out and sharing your story. I recently have done the same, and have felt so much better being able to get it in the open…if for nothing then just the therapy of writing. Thanks for your service Dave, any veteran is a hero.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have had your experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank God your suicide attempt was unsuccessful. I also have PTSD from childhood trauma and have also been helped by medication and therapy (EMDR). In fact I would now say my PTSD, which has blighted my entire life, is in recovery for the first time. For so many years I was clean but crazy because of the PTSD. It wasn’t until the PTSD caused me to have a full on nervous breakdown at 9 years clean that I was forced to tackle it. Now it and all my other mental health problems and addictions are in recovery I feel happier and more peaceful than I have ever been. I feel my life is just starting now. Good luck with your journey of recovery.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Your sense of humor in all this is great to read. It really is, thank you for sharing your story, and reading mine – I saw that.

    I think you’re doing a good thing here, it’s important. Keep it up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I also wrestle with PTSD. Therapists say it’s a natural reaction to unnatural circumstances. That makes sense to me. I take meds and I tried EMDR, but that didn’t work. Now I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what I CAN do. What I can’t do is self-medicate and complete the math courses necessary to earn a degree. I feel like the mental illness is keeping me from being the person I could be.
    And oftentimes, I “fake it till I male it”.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. To be honest, writing has been my best therapy. I take my meds, go to therapy, I have things more under control now than ever before. I used to think my PTSD kept me from being who I was, but then I pondered, maybe this is who I am and I need to get comfortable with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nice. Thanks for that. I’ve been looking at that idea, myself. It’s not what I wanted, but I guess I’ve known for a long time that it’s no about me.
        I need to find out how to be of maximum service, wherever I find myself.
        Thanks, Dave.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I have PTSD, not from being in combat like you, but from being raped by an old boyfriend. And I also acquired what my psych dr called Transferred PTSD, from being my husbands caregiver when he got home from Iraq, he had severe PTSD and TBI. Dr told me that I adapted to how he was.. I commend you on this post.. So many times people act like OMG YOU HAVE ISSUES and IM GOING TO GET THEM IF I HANG OUT WITH YOU.. Thank you for this post and thank you for your service

    Liked by 1 person

    • About that post, I felt the need to lighten things up a bit. Everything about this can be way to serious most of the time, so I let my twisted sense of humor out. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Dave, wow! Now that was good. The truth came out in the jokes and yep its how I feel. I was a military wife and mom but “caught” my cooties from 25 yrs in law enforcement. My closest partners I never hear from, would have died for them but now not even a text.
    Thank you for your service. I am so glad you didn’t succeed in your attempt. You have an amazing gift writing and you have been put in a crappy situation with the insight and opportunity to really affect others!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your warmth and humor come across, Dave. It’s a pleasure reading your description of getting PTSD. I work with police officers, so I’m familiar with how difficult it is to explain to someone that PTSD is real, not “in your head.” It’s in your brain, and you can’t just “suck it up” and wave it away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep. I don’t know that I try to explain PTSD too much. I don’t even understand it. But I accept it. And tell my story. And thank God my sense of humor remained when my sanity left. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I grew up with PTSD although I didn’t know wtf was wrong for most of my life.

    I got it, despite no obvious “reason,” I had access to money, status, and power, if I’d been well enough to use them. So what was my problem?

    If I had $1 for every time people have told me to “get over it,” or “grow up,” or something else equally ridiculous, I’d be very rich indeed.

    I’ve lived with the mental health stigma almost my whole life. The first time I was called “crazy” was in 3rd grade. There are relatives and neighbors who won’t leave their kids with me, alone, for five minutes. There are a host of jobs I could not do, cannot do. I can’t work as a volunteer in our local library, for example, as I have to “pass” a police check.

    The stigma fit what my abuser told me: there was something indefinable “wrong” with me and any “decent” person wouldn’t want to associate with me. If they did, they were simply being “polite.”

    It has been a good many years since I worked for the DoD and my “issues” caused them to do a deep background check /send me to a shrink for testing (to see if I wasn’t a psychopath) for a secret clearance. I got diagnosed. Somehow, having “issues” and no diagnosis was better than being diagnosed with PTSD, somehow?

    But I’ll take the PTSD diagnosis anyway. With it, I’ve been able to compartmentalize the pain until it no longer rules my life. I’ve been able to deal with a great many of the issues I had and tear down the defenses I’d erected. Much of my difficulty was that for 42 years I had no idea what was wrong. I’ve been able to let go of the terror that I really am a maniac.

    I was terrified I was crazy and lived in a culture which didn’t help. No family, no drugs, no religion, no useful therapy for much of that time. About 25 I met/married the right guy, but it was 20 years later I was diagnosed.

    Not living in the “mirrored funhouse” I grew up in makes all the work worthwhile!

    In the same way that I cannot imagine what it’s like to have PTSD that includes life-threatening elements, I cannot imagine not living with that stigma or PTSD. More, I cannot imagine what a horrible thing it would be to be “normal,” and then get PTSD. PTSD is my normal, and has been for more than 50 years.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Much more profitable than fighting it with denial! As much as possible, try to thrive in whatever situation.

        At first when i found out I could not “win” over it, I got very depressed. I’d spent all this time, effort and $ determined I would win, for nothing? After a while I figured I better take what I had and stop worrying about it not being what I”d wanted.

        Like

  13. What I’ve found is that if people aren’t afraid or leery of being in my presence, especially after a rough bout of severe PTSD triggers, that those who will come around, I often push away. At least when I’m in the throes of my crazy making. Then….when I start to come out of the fog…I feel so alone. Thanks for sharing tho…because it is true….that we with mental illnesses are looked at differently. That is why I started my blog…to maybe help dispel the stigma. But who knows…everyone who knows me just might think I’m perpetuating it. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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