What To Expect When You’re Diagnosed With PTSD
In February, I took my first long walk through New York City.
The morning was warm and sunny, and it was a great day to get away from my wife and kids.
I was just finishing up an exercise class when I noticed a man on the sidewalk.
I didn’t know him, but he was wearing a mask.
“Are you a psychologist?”
“No, I’m a psychiatrist,” he said.
He wasn’t the only one.
I walked on.
“Well, that’s kind of weird, isn’t it?”
“It is,” he replied.
“So what do you do?”
I shrugged again.
“I don’t really know.”
He shrugged again, then asked, “Are we doing anything?”
“Well,” he asked, shaking his head, “do you have any training or experience?”
“I’ve never trained,” I said, and walked on again.
At some point, he asked me if I was a professional psychologist.
I told him that I was.
I wasn’t sure how much I had in common with the other students.
I also had my own anxiety.
I had always had it, and I didn-t know how to deal with it.
But when I first started working with people who were also diagnosed with PTSD, it was clear that I could work with them.
I learned a lot from them, as well.
And now that I’m working with someone with PTSD who has completed an extensive mental health training program, I can feel more comfortable talking about what I’ve learned.
“How do you deal with the stigma?”
“The stigma,” he replies.
“Do you have to be a psychologist to deal and get help?”
I have to think about that.
It’s not like the stigma is something that you’re born with, like, I think it’s a disability.
The stigma is a mental health issue that comes with a history of abuse, a history that you’ve had as a child.
And it’s not something that’s easily dealt with.
“And I feel like you’re being kind of like, ‘You’re being stupid, I’ve had it for a long time, you’re not going to help me.'”
It’s something that we all have to deal.
And sometimes, it’s something we have to live with.
And I feel it with people I know with PTSD.
“Why don’t you just get help and you can live with that?”
I’ve heard many of the stories I hear from my patients.
People have been diagnosed with the condition because they were in a bad place.
They’ve been abused.
They’re victims of domestic violence.
They have a history with a family member who’s diagnosed with it or a partner who’s a victim of it.
And people are afraid to get help.
“If I were to get out of this house and start walking down the street, I would be walking a mile in my pants, my pants are a mess, I wouldn’t know what to do,” one of my patients, Sarah, said.
She has a daughter with ADHD.
“You don’t want to feel like I’m giving you advice, you don’t have to know this,” she said.
Sometimes, it can be easier to hide it.
“A lot of the time,” Sarah said, “when people say they need help, I’ll be like, no, I need it.
I don’t know how.”
And she’ll feel really guilty about it.
That’s the stigma.
“But what do I tell my kids?”
I’ve been trying to help my patients find ways to make their parents feel comfortable around them.
Sometimes I tell them that it’s okay to say, “I’m not like that.”
But if you tell them, “You’re not like this,” and they don’t believe you, you’ll feel like they’re lying.
“We can’t talk about it, we can’t do anything.”
Sometimes, when my patients talk about being treated with PTSD in an unhelpful way, they get a little defensive.
“They don’t understand how it feels to not have the support you need,” Sarah says.
“What are they thinking?”
I tell her that I’ve always been the one who gets the most hurt and the most upset when people who are diagnosed with this disorder say they’re just tired of having to hide their feelings.
I’m trying to be like a parent, I tell Sarah.
“Look, if I wasn.
I would tell you that I would never, ever, ever tell you not to feel this way.
And you’d never listen to me.”
Sometimes she just shrugs and looks away.
Sometimes she doesn’t listen.
And that’s okay.
“Sometimes, it takes me a long while to get over it,” Sarah told me.
“When I was in my 20s, I