I find it peculiar that PTSD is categorized by many, as a mental illness. PTSD can certainly trigger a mental illness, but it isn’t and shouldn’t be categorized as one, it just sounds like you are broken and paints a picture that defines you. A mental health problem, yes, and should be addressed most definitely. It is a natural response for the brain when someone has been exposed to trauma, especially something they can’t quite piece together, everyone will suffer from PTSD in various degrees at some point in their life after experiencing a trauma. There is no medication for PTSD, you can give someone a cocktail of pharmaceuticals, but it doesn’t actually cure PTSD, or deal with the actual trauma that triggers the ups and downs of PTSD, because it has nothing to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain.
PTSD is still new, or new in the fact that doctors and researchers have identified that it actually occurs, and not just for soldiers who have served, or first responders. What I find interesting, is that many don’t want to look at simple ways to help with the process of trauma. There are, and I will get into that in a later post. Diplomats, just like soldiers, don’t suffer from PTSD while serving abroad. They have a like minded tribe that they work closely with, they lean on each other, and depend on each other during crisis. What happens when they come back to headquarters, is a completely different story. Many head straight into the ups and downs of PTSD, and get no help for it. Many can’t get help, mostly because you can’t explain the trauma you suffered abroad, because it isn’t a standard conversation, it isn’t simply witnessing one gruesome act, it is usually multiple compounding a strange set of feelings and reactions. Suffering in silence is what most Foreign Service Officers know best.
I lived in a cycle of PTSD, where both grandfather’s were pilots in WW2, and came home to then have my parents and pass down their anxieties and fears to my Mother and Father in completely different ways. My Grandfather on my Father’s side, was a fighter pilot, and had been shot down in France, the Nazi’s searched for him, but the French resistance found him first, he then worked for the French resistance until the end of the war. My Father grew up with a Father who was distant, cold, but would then go down the street to a local pub and drink with other pilots, he would come home crying and drunk. During one night of drunken blubbering, he admitted during the War, he had to kill with his bare hands. That is not something you can ever get over. It haunted him, but it also haunted and impacted his ability to Father his own son, my Father. In those days, what did you do? There was no one to talk to, and plenty of time to live with the pain, because you are no longer serving.
My Father then at the age of 11, being posted to Morocco with his family, witnessed one of the most gruesome events in Moroccan history. He saw some men being burned alive on the street. He never spoke about it, he had been pulled away by my grandfather quickly, but not quickly enough. He admitted to my Mother later in life, that it was “unsettling”. Yet, he set out for an unconventional career. His experience as a child, would dictate how he dealt with things as an adult, setting up a baton passing of PTSD to me. My Father’s childhood trauma, would in my opinion, set our house up, for the passing down of PTSD on-top of PTSD. The more we moved, the more trauma’s in other countries we experienced, just added to each other. We just didn’t know what it was called, or that we were really suffering, because it wasn’t like depression, or anxiety, it was just this inability to process or believe what happened to us, and then an irrational fear would tear through our minds at a later time.
In my mind, the only way out of PTSD, is to work through the traumas, and to build yourself up from the ashes of that trauma.