by Tom Cloyd - 3 min. read - (reviewed 2024-02-25:1805 PT)
This statement was written to help people with PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) explain to other people what they are dealing with in their lives, and in their therapy – if they are working in psychotherapy to resolve their PTSD. (See also Explaining your PTSD to your children.)
It was originally written for someone who needed their boss at work to understand their moods and sensitivities. They felt unable to explain their situation. I wrote this and they showed it to their boss. His whole attitude changed, and my client’s situation was no longer problematic.
People with PTSD are commonly misunderstood. Other people in their lives may think they are “crazy” – they aren’t. They themselves may think at times that they are “losing their mind” – but this isn’t true either. Everyone – other people and the PTSD victim herself or himself – may think that they can willfully control their symptoms. They cannot. Meanwhile, life is often difficult, and some parts of it are nearly impossible.
It can be truly helpful if people associated with those who have PTSD have at least a basic understanding of what’s going on with them. This document is to be used to help achieve that understanding.
If you have PTSD, explaining yourself to others, while preserving your privacy about what happened to you to produce the PTSD, can be an important part of your therapy, although it won’t take the PTSD away. If you live or work with someone with PTSD, for you to understand that person better can help you very much improve how you relate to, think about, and feel about that person. So…I encourage you to make the effort to achieve that understanding. It will make a difference.
If you think it would help you, please do print out the statement below and give it to anyone who needs a better understanding of what you are dealing with.
My mental health diagnosis - PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) - is difficult for me to explaing to other people. It is not a simple disorder, and it creates problems with memory. Even if I understood it well, I would still have difficulty remembering all that need to say.
For these reasons, a trauma psychotherapist has written this statement for me, to help with the problem of assisting others to understand my situation. I give it to you because when I read it I recognize that it is talking about me.
What you may see with me is that I have serious posttraumatic stress. What that means is that bad feelings can be too easily triggered in me - by things such as people and situations in my present life. These painful emotional reactions in me that may not make much sense to those around me.
When this happens, I may become rather dysfunctional for a while. I may become frightened, or cry unexpectedly. I may have trouble talking, or thinking. I may become very irritable or even angry. Or I may simply become very quiet and distant for a time. It can take me quite a while to get back my emotional balance.
I cannot predict very well when this problem with “triggering” excessive emotions will happen. My reactions can worry, disturb, and sometimes frighten people around me. This makes me feel bad, but I can’t help it.
Part of my therapy for this situation I’m living through is to learn about what’s happening to me, and to explain it to others. It’s only because of this learning that I can talk about it at all.
I hope you can be patient with me when I actively avoid certain topics, people, or activities (to try to keep from triggering bad feelings). I also need your patience when I do trigger and have to work through the aftermath of this painful experience. Believe me, please, when I say that I’m doing the best I can. And…I fully expect to do better in the future.
PTSD is treatable. No one asks for PTSD to happen for them, but people to whom it does happen can heal the wounds in their mind, get on with their life, and no longer be tripped up by what happened to them in the past. Many people have done this. It is my hope also to do this. Then, PTSD will just be a part of my history, not a part of my life.
Until then, please know that I need your understanding, and will deeply appreciate any efforts you can make to understand my situation, and to be patient with me while I learn to manage my symptoms as I’m healing. I know that it is reasonable to expect that my future will be an easier and more comfortable place than my present, and that this will be good for all of us. I thank you for taking the time to consider my situation.
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