PTSD: normalising the experience

As I felt this pain of isolation shoot through to my heart and soul, the longing for someone near me to understand, to get it, to share the pain, the terror, the fright, the worry, the angsts, I hopped on Google instead. Sometimes I forget about the mine of knowledge we know as the net.

Along my travels I found the story of James Arthur Allen – a photographer from here in the UK.

His work brought the biggest wave of relief, sorrow and reassurance. To read the stories of those with PTSD brought shed loads of tears to my eyes. Please go on the site and take a read. Scroll through and let yourself see you’re not alone – we are not alone.

When I really connect with the isolation I feel, and I know others feel, it makes me angry. It makes me mad that we cannot, as a society and individuals ourselves drop the stigma we hold about PTSD and other mental illnesses, and the stigma that we often hold about ourselves. I know I do. To accept and acknowledge that I am struggling with PTSD is huge. Because to acknowledge and accept that I am living with a mental illness, breaks my heart. But that is my journey – that is my difficulty with acceptance of myself, due to a lifetime of living with two parents with their mental illnesses running a crazy riot. I know this is different, there is nothing ‘crazy’ about PTSD. It is a normal response to an abnormal and terrifying event. On the flip side of all this, and in slight contradiction, I don’t really believe PTSD to be a ‘mental illness’ anyway, yet this is how it sometimes needs to be labeled to find the help you need and deserve. Whatever the label, whatever the name, one of the ingredients to the recipe for healing is always holding the same thing: sharing. And finding your way to step out through these stigmas.

So why all the stigma in our society? It just doesn’t make sense. And yet in many ways it does. This society, full to the brim of all its stigmas running their own riot. But it is also full of people helping to shift these mis-beliefs. And it is working. That is why my heart sang a great cry of relief when I found the article by James Arthur Allen – a perfect example of someone helping to shift these stigmas we have forever held. It reminded me of the importance of reading others stories, of seeing others faces – just normal people suffering from abnormal feelings and abnormal events. Sure, there is no such thing as ‘normal’ but it sure as hell does make you feel better when you can spend some time normalising your experience. And there is no other way that this can happen properly, than to share.



9 thoughts on “PTSD: normalising the experience

  1. I am so glad that finding others in the same situation helps–but I hope this does too–we are all struggling and we all need to know that there are others out there struggling successfully too–to give us hope that we can carry on
    You write so intelligently–I am proud that you are trying to unstigmatize something that should carry no stigma

    • These words brought tears to my eyes. I can’t express my gratitude and appreciation of you. I always try and remember that we are not alone in our sorrow or grief or pain, and boulders that life offers up, but to read it like you type it is so reassuring and inspiring. It’s being reminded about how many people out there are getting through their struggle successfully that counts, I think.
      Thank you again for all your kind words, means the world. X

  2. I think PTSD is a normal response to an abnormally traumatic event. As you say it is not a mental illness as such but it is our mind’s way of carrying on under the enormous strain of the event(s). But the mind is a powerful thing and it can heal itself if treated gently. Lots of love x

  3. I understand that PTSD is a ‘mental injury,’ rather than a ‘mental illness.’ I guess it feels like the solution is ‘to heal’ rather than ‘to cure.’ Just a thought. Seems like the ‘stigma’ is mostly just people not understanding. Or not wanting to believe what happened to cause the injury. So it really is a wonderful healing experience to share our stories.

  4. Thanks all for your kind comments, the object of this project has always been to empower people with a voice to tell the world about the journey that they have been on.

    I hope that this go’s some way to combat the “Isolation” so often described by the people I work with. This project has always been powered by my subjects that i’m trying my best to represent. So thank you all again.

  5. Pingback: “A place for healing: Lourdes opens PTSD unit” | Pennsylvania Mental Health Issues

  6. Pingback: Mental Illness & A brave New World Revisited | A Spoonful of Suga

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