June is National PTSD Awareness Month!
Lotz of Mad JUSTICE and LOVE to our brothers and sisters not just resisting the horrors of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but also thriving in a country that is increasingly pathologizing our young people. As a former foster youth and sexual violence survivor, I understand the American diagnosis of PTSD far too well. Former foster youth have twice the rate of PTSD as Vietnam War Veterans, and five times the amount as the general public. Horrific statistics for a forgotten population once aged out of Systems…
Being a Millennial and growing up during Generation Rx, I experienced the industrial model of pushing youth in and out of general care check ups at Public Health, therapists and psychiatrists pushing pills after a 30 minute consultation, and the lack of follow up calls when trying new medication. I also experienced the lonely isolation of what it meant to be on new medications, ups and downs of weight, and body-mind-spirit changes because of Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro…
What Public Health-and all the therapists-didn’t realize was that Prozac gave me intense panic attacks, Paxil gave me intense weight gain and ruined my Freshman year of High School (as I was so heavy I barely knew what to do with my new body); and Celexa put me in a lucid, dream-like state for two full hours after I took it. If providers would have extended some humane care and called me, had a week follow up session, and/or found some creative way for constituency to connect the ways they were feeling with the new meds. Perhaps they could have a blog where constituents could connect with others on similar meds, seek resources and information about the meds (and alternatives to meds), and email/call someone about needed changes.
I had an experience in my early 20’s that many sexual abuse *thrivers* often live through: flashbacks and body memories. I woke up one day and my past had coincided with my present. My scared reality didn’t know how to reach out for supports? I couldn’t afford services, and was left to cyberchondria. Little did I understand the severity of PTSD, and how growing up in a systems built off of Orphan Trains, Institutionalized Racism, and patient maltreatment was statistically parallel to my friends coming back from Iraq. I have to thank my American diagnoses for providing a PHAT DENIEDpsychological exam for never setting foot into the Military Industrial Complex. And yet, with this distance from understanding the ins and outs of the Military, I feel so close to it when I see my friend’s posts feed in my Facebook about their experiences. Would they ever connect their FB venting to mental health? Not many, I fear. Would they ever connect my same symptomatology to all my foster sisters and brothers?It struck me to see that the U.S. has a National Day of Awareness for these spectrums of experiences. The power of one photo and one caption has. Thank you, National Day of Awareness for PTSD because I was able to take a moment and reflect on my journey through the highs and lows of my mental health, and the trauma and loss I have grieved. I was able to reflect on the paradigm shifts taking place in the mental health struggle. I was able to be at peace realizing that millions are looking at the same photo-on this day-and reflecting on their own journeys.
I extend my mad love and justice to all those I’m in solidarity with, and find hope in the collective. I put my trust in the inter-dependance beginning to ripple through the #MadCommunity, and pushing the Globalization of the American Psyche. I excitedly anticipate a mindfulness shift as the 20th Century industrial models crumble and new paradigms rise. So, thank you National PTSD Awareness Day, thank you for linking my past to a hopeful shift and giving grace to many dark nights.