PTSD Isn't a Fashion Accessory
This week, your friend and mine, the incomparable AOC decided to tell her story about the goings on of 01/06/2021 on Capitol Hill. In this poorly acted telenovela she revealed that she is a survivor of sexual abuse and that the Capitol riots triggered her PTSD.
Now I will preface this by saying that I do not discount anyone's tales of surviving abuse, sexual or otherwise, male or female, it can and has happened to many more people than most of us know. As a matter of fact she was correct in saying that each and every one of us probably has someone in our circle that is a survivor. This is likely the only thing she said that is true.
By now we have found out so many things about that day, including the fact that she wasn't anywhere near where the shit was hitting the fan. But that's not important right now.
What I would like to address is the redefining of PTSD by the general public and the disgusting overuse of the term. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Click the link above for more information on the causes and symptoms (and if you're suffering GO SEE SOMEBODY). My point here is that PTSD is something that is diagnosable. By actual doctors. Not Jill Biden Doctors, but those with medical degrees who have studied Psychiatry. It is not the Twitter armchair Psychiatrists' definition of PTSD, which seems to be "a bad thing happened to me, or around me, or on a TV screen in a room I was in at the time and now I'm upset."
PTSD is not a joke, it is real and it is frightening to those experience it, it isn't something you get to claim you have because you have experienced what you deem to be a trauma. In fact many who have experienced a trauma do not develop PTSD. Many people deal with bad stuff on the daily and are no worse for the wear, which is why if you have these symptoms, you need to seek medical attention from a licensed professional who can help you.
Lets talk about what PTSD is not.
It is not experiencing something scary and feeling weird about it afterwards. (That's just normal.) It is not hearing someone yell and immediately thinking you're going to die. (Unless you are a victim of abuse, that's blowing shit way out of proportion.) It is not remembering a bad experience and acknowledging that it sucked. (Also normal.)
It is definitely NOT something you get to arbitrarily diagnose and use to gain attention, like AOC did on Instagram because people looked away from her for twelve seconds.
Look at the replies on Instagram and Twitter to this ridiculous hour and a half, tear filled, dramatic interpretive dance that is the recounting of AOC's experience, people are cheering for her, "OMG, I have PTSD too!"
PTSD is the latest fashion it seems, everyone has it if you read the responses. Its almost as fashionable as OCD (another oft overused term) was a few short years ago, when everyone who brushed their teeth more than once a day described themselves as OCD. PTSD is now an accessory to the jet set, like a Birkin Bag or a Rolex. Anyone who is anyone has it these days.
Think about all of the people you know, have any of them ever been actually diagnosed with PTSD? If so, how often do they talk about it? Have you ever seen a person having a PTSD episode?
When I was in college, I was a bartender at a local joint, full of characters, one of whom, we called "Wild Bill," who was a Vietnam Veteran. Being a neighborhood establishment, where literally everyone knew your business, we all knew that if Bill was "in the house," you kept the noise down, and you did not approach him from behind. He came in the afternoons only because it was less busy and he and his lady friend (who looked and could sing like Tammy Wynette) could have a beer and enjoy some time out. More than once, he would hear a loud noise, or a stranger approach from behind his barstool to order a drink and Bill would hit the floor. Disconcerting for the bar patrons, sure, but the pain on Bill's face at reliving the absolute horrors he had seen, was heartbreaking. When the episode was over, every single time, he was so ashamed that he may have scared someone, that he may have embarrassed his girlfriend, that he may have overstayed his welcome in this watering hole, that he would apologize profusely to everyone. I was on the receiving end of more than one of Bill's apologies, and we would all tell him it was ok and we loved him, because we did.
Does everyone experience PTSD in the same way as Bill did? No. I know another Vietnam Veteran who sits zombie-like as the events unfold before his eyes. He doesn't talk about it all, the things he has seen he will take to his grave I'm sure.
There are plenty of non-veterans who also have PTSD, as it can be the result of many different kinds of trauma, like rape, child abuse, domestic violence, natural disasters, to name a few. There are still people out there who think that it doesn't exist. It wasn't even a fully recognized disorder until 1980 when it was first included in the DSM-III.
Having PTSD isn't something to be ashamed of, but it sure as hell isn't something to celebrate or boast about, like its an accomplishment. Its a painful affliction, and not something a person who really suffers from it would ever use on purpose to call attention to themselves. PTSD sufferers wish they didn't have it, they seek help because it interferes with life. It makes certain things impossible, and other things very difficult. It destroys relationships, causes unwanted physical stress, makes holding a job difficult. It leads to homelessness, suicide and drug abuse.
I know another Veteran with PTSD, so I asked him about his thoughts on AOC and her most recent declaration to the world: "she's a reprobate," was his response. He went on to say "I don't get this whole generation of LARPers who equate the appearance of a thing, with the actual thing."
PTSD is a serious thing, AOC is not a serious person, she thinks serving in congress is a like going to Comic-Con, in a #metoo costume with glorious cape made out of psychiatric self diagnosis.
Its LARPing. And she sucks.