Common Language and PTSD

hurt lockerMy 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.

3 thoughts on “Common Language and PTSD

  1. catherine

    I just discovered your blog, it’s extraordinary and wonderful and moving. My only connection with PTSD is my grandfather who served in WWI (Somme, Messines, Ypres, Passchendaele) and suffered PTSD the rest of his life, untreated and unrecognised as it was then and remained during his life. It eventually killed him, at 92, when he had a nightmare that the Germans were coming to get him so he ‘escaped’ out his bedroom window on the second floor, despite locks on the windows, and fell to his death. I really had no concept of what his ‘nightmares’ meant until I started reading your blog. So although my grandfather is now long gone, thank you for helping me get a glimpse of his burdens (as commenter Becky put it so beautifully on another post).

    On a different note, I subscribed via feedly (feed reader) and I am getting a paragraph of strange Bulgarian text as para 2 of this and each post, all linked to some site with a .ru URL, which I am loathe to click to find out where it goes. I did translate the text – here’s what it comes out as:
    “that is placed in the passport registration or registration who owns the elevator in the house how to change the passport after marriage after 30 carjacking employer does not pay wages and says nothing certificate to register a child executive authorities and the types of legal status of the employment contract and leave TTFS 10113104 Family Code divestment a three-month vacation proportional to the time worked is not within the competence of the constitutional Court of Belarus charge of the production order for the surcharge for the combination of professions if we live together alimony”

    (It’s slightly different from post to post, but not much). I have no idea what is causing it, but thought you might want to know.

  2. mikeypiro

    Thank you Catherine, for both reading and alerting me to the hack.
    The conversations and the shared experience have helped me as much as I hope they are helping others. Do you happen to have a picture of your grandfather in his uniform you could share? My Great grandfather also served in WWI with 15th Pioneer Infantry. The stories from my Grandmother to this day are fascinating. He was apparently a very strict Father, yet absolutely loved. However, with his son, who returned from WWII, he was abusive and not at all accepting of the torment of war. It has had a significant and long lasting generational impact. Again thank you for reading and alerting me to the problems. Sincerely,

  3. catherine

    Glad the hack info was useful – the Bulgarian seems to have gone this morning.
    Such a sad story about your great-grandfather and grandfather’s relationship. With everything swept under the rug in those days, it must have been near impossible for that generation to cope with their experiences being brought to light again by their children. The pain and torment on all sides is tragic, and so long lasting, which makes what you’re doing important in another way (beyond your own recovery I mean) because you’re finding a way to break that chain.
    I’d be happy to share a pic of my grandfather in his uniform, I’ll scan one and upload it in the comments in a more recent post if that works.
    And please keep writing!

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