My flight is delayed due to a freak “tarp flew into the engine” incident. Cue the “standing in line chit-chat and eavesdropping dynamic.” I partake in the latter, as generally opening my mouth, as my wife will easily agree, gets me more trouble than it is worth.
But oh, the nuggets of pure gold people pass around when they think they are out of ear shot. Also, add a little frustration from a delayed flight and poof: instant blog fodder.
A lovely couple just a few feet away are discussing something. I am more interested in tweeting to Southwest about a crappy experience and only half paying attention when the fateful acronym hits my radar: PTSD. Now they have my keen attention. From listening to earlier conversations they are newlyweds and both younger than I am. They seem like lovely people. The most interesting part to me is the way in which the conversation developed and the way the stress disorder worked it’s way into the conversation.
I am totally paraphrasing now. “So and so and whoseyamacallit are rooming together again. I swear “So and So” has PTSD. “Whoseyamacallit” said she totally flipped out about some white powder being on the floor when they moved in. She allegedly thought it was Anthrax or something…”
I am not sure how to feel about it. On the one hand, I am glad that PTSD is working it’s way into the common language. On the other, not knowing all the facts, but also not being new to this game, I am concerned about gross mis-representation of what PTSD is and how people are truly effected.
The media and Hollywood certainly aren’t doing us many favors. The recent shooting in Washington DC quickly alluded to PTSD as the shooter was a prior service member. Seemingly most Veteran stereotypes are portrayed with demons of war. Around Veteran’s day, there are many feel good stories about recovery and support. But, the common language and a greater understanding is still muddled.
I had not really thought about it until hearing a piece of casual conversation. If “So and so” doesn’t have PTSD, then her characterization is a phenomenon of broadly overgeneralizing as we do with other labels and ailments. Is this just part of our assimilation into culture? I remember in my youth freely using ADD to wholly describe someone who would not concentrate or acted hyper, even just for short spurts. Today, I have a loving family member and other close friends who have tackled or are battling ADHD. After meeting and knowing them, my respect for those with ADD or ADHD is thousands of times greater. Does this mean I have to go meet more people and show them a face with actual PTSD? Should I have challenged the newlywed on her use of the term? Food for thought.
The more I trudge through this continuing and complex reintegration, the more sympathy I have for those not just with PTSD but with all sorts of ailments. While I have been blogging for over two years now, I am not sure it will ever be my style to get in front of someone and challenge them without really knowing them. I prefer this longer form and medium.
In any case, I still have to crank one more post out today. Six down. I owe you five. Thanks for reading.