June’s Juxtaposition of Warmth and Wounds : Navigating PTSD Awareness through Hope and Comfort

As much as June brings forth comfort and warmth, it also serves as a poignant opportunity to disseminate awareness in terms of National PTSD Awareness Month. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a pervasive, potentially debilitating, and often misunderstood disorder that I shall strive to simplify for all potential readers. 

This complex condition is often triggered by a psychological insult including but not limited to exposure to
war, violent assault, natural disasters, or personal losses. In our current landscape, the COVID-19 pandemic has been recognized as a potential trigger of PTSD owing to its long-standing psychological effects, which have been discussed in an earlier blog post [1]. The roots of PTSD albeit complex lie in the mind’s biology where when faced with trauma, the alarm system of the brain goes into overdrive and floods the body with stress hormones, preparing it for a permanent state of fight or flight. The insult often persists as an indelible scar that alters the brain’s chemistry such that it consistently senses danger even where none exists leading to a myriad of signs, including:

1. Vivid Flashbacks or Intrusive thoughts: Individuals might face recurrent distressing thoughts of the trauma often triggered by sensory modalities such as sights, sounds, or even scents. These triggers evoke the original insult and transport the affected person into a hallowing and excruciatingly familiar reliving of the familiar event.

2. Avoidance –This is a logical consequence of the condition wherein individuals steer clear of places, conversations, or activities that might trigger and subsequently surface the burrowed pain thus culminating in the dreaded flashback. This avoidance can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and culminate in isolation, a modern behavioral epidemic, which as discussed in a previous blog post brings forth deleterious consequences of its own.

3. Hyperarousal–Affected individuals often are on a perpetual metaphorical ‘edge’ much
akin to how a coiled spring retains a lot of inbuilt stress and tension. This can
manifest as irritability, anger, and sleep disturbances. It might also lead to nightmares,
sleep terrors, and an exaggerated startle response. Thus, simple mundane tasks
become a minefield of potential threats for those afflicted.

As is evident, PTSD profoundly affects one’s emotional health and daily life often leading to feelings of perpetual stress, isolation, and emotional detachment. Moreover, it must be stressed that although PTSD does not discriminate and can weave its web across all demographics, a lack of social support and hesitation in seeking help stemming from deep-rooted shame and guilt associated with the previous traumatic event can further deepen the roots of the disorder.

I must stress, however dear reader that amidst this pervasiveness and gloom, there does exist and shine a beacon of hope. PTSD, which often can be debilitating, does NOT need to be. With recent advances made in understanding the nuances, origins, and precipitating factors of the condition, significant strides have been made in its treatment. Various treatment modalities, both pharmacological and based on therapy are employed to help the affected
individuals challenge and reframe their thoughts, whilst they are gradually and safely exposed and subsequently desensitized to traumatic triggers. 

Thus, as much as PTSD is a lingering uninvited guest that distorts one's reality; a thorough understanding of the condition,
awareness of its intricacies and an empathic systematic dismantling approach toward it can
be transformative when paired with the recognition of the extraordinary capacity of resilience
[3] and recovery that the human psyche possesses, the capacity that persists in all its glory
even in minds affected by PTSD.

So as we tread on this testing terrain together dear reader, one that June reminds us of as
National PTSD Awareness Month, we must remember and re-iterate that we are always
greater than the circumstances that befall us, we are always more than the challenges we face,
more than the traumas that imprint on us, and that we are always worthy of hope, help, and a
fulfilling life. Always.

Previous blog posts that you might find helpful:

1. https://www.healingmindsplc.com/blog/181928-mental-well-being-amidst-the-

2. https://www.healingmindsplc.com/blog/278094-persistent-loneliness-in-midlife-

3. https://www.healingmindsplc.com/blog/279376-building-resilience

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