PTSD: Dispelling a few misconceptions
Updated: Jan 27
An article that was published on the BBC News page on Monday discusses the impact that the pandemic is having on hospital staff, and after reading it, I was interested to educate myself and find out more.
A study by Kings College London, found that 39% of hospital staff reported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), during the first wave of the pandemic alone.
One of the common misconceptions about PTSD is that it mainly affects military personnel. but the reality is that it affects a whole range of people who have experienced, and lived through traumatic and distressing events and circumstances.
The report includes a video which features two people who have both been affected by PTSD, neither of them having been anywhere near a war zone.
Olivia explains that she started to experience problems after a prolonged and traumatic child birth which initiated the onset of an episode of PTSD.
She uses the analogy of a filing cabinet to describe the ordeal, explaining that if the files within it resembled memories and thoughts, then hers were all jumbled up, leaving her in her 'own version of hell', unable to sort the memories or shut the door on them again.
She goes on to report a heightened 'fight or flight' response, along with recurring nightmares and the inability to distinguish between reality and dreams. Combined together, these symptoms resulted in her continuously waking up in fear and confusion.
Her description allows for such insight into the condition and reminds us of the suffering that so often accompanies mental illnesses. This is especially important for our supporters to learn from, because episodes like PTSD, severe depression, mania, and psychosis can be absolutely terrifying for the person experiencing them, and this means that they need bucket-loads of empathy and understanding, as well as acceptance from all of those around them.
The second interviewee is Chris who developed PTSD through working as a Facebook moderator, after being continually exposed to insults, online bullying and other general nastiness that so often litters the internet these days.
He reports that it crept up on him gradually, with symptoms of disrupted sleep, irritability and hypervigilance slowly building up to a crescendo, after which he was forced to seek professional help and treatment.
After reading the article and watching the video, it made me want to educate myself further, so I decided to do a search for further information about PTSD on the internet.
I found a wonderfully informative clip on YouTube by psychotherapist and counsellor, Ahi Wheeler from Harley Therapy, who explains the symptoms of the disorder so beautifully.
She explains that patients normally start by withdrawing emotionally, which leads to isolation and social awkwardness, accompanied, or followed by the onset of intrusive thoughts and memories. They often have problems with making sense of their place in the world, and for those with military trauma, feelings of self-reproach, and 'survivor's guilt', often present in the illness.
The video is fascinating and there are a whole range of other clips regarding PTSD which can be found on YouTube. I have added one of Ahi's videos to the home page, which details all the symptoms and characteristics of the disorder in a most informative and comprehensive way.
Thank you to Olivia and Chris for bravely sharing their stories, and also to Ahi and other professionals like her, for studying the illness, educating us about it, and for helping those that suffer through understanding and therapy.
If you would like to read the BBC news article and watch the video, then you can find them here.
I am now quickly signing off to watch Alice Hendy from R;pple Suicide Prevention, who tragically lost her brother Josh, to suicide last year and is featuring on BBC News at 8.43 a.m. I'm so impressed with the work she's doing and will be writing in detail about her in a future post.
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,