Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sufferers Should Not Feel Ashamed

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Sufferers Should Not Feel Ashamed
Serita A. Jakes, executive director, The Potter’s House Women’s Ministries

Over the years, I have met thousands of men and women who have experienced traumatic situations that have turned their lives upside down.

From the woman who struggles to erase the memories of repeated childhood sexual assault to the war vet who can’t stop reliving the trauma of combat and the mother who continues replaying the images of her baby being swept away in the floods of Hurricane Katrina, and the rescue worker who has constant memories of the smoke-filled skies, dismantled buildings and lifeless bodies of 9/11 — these vivid memories continue to haunt them.

While some have worked to move beyond their pain, the aftermath of the trauma carries on long after the incident has ended. Victims are tormented daily by the sounds, thoughts, smells and visions of the event as if it occurred just yesterday. As a result, some lash out in fits of anger, live in constant fear while others sink to depression, experience thoughts of suicide, or resort to chemical dependency. And when they lose control or act out of character, we criticize them without addressing the root of the problem. Often this is because we may not be aware of the underlying condition.

As executive director of The Potter’s House Women’s Ministries where we have more than 30,000 members, I have seen countless men and women come through the doors of the church seeking solace. And for years, the church body has attended to their spiritual concerns, but in reality, many of them are in need of much more than a spiritual uplift, they are in need of psychological treatment. Through our various ministries of The Potter’s House, and our counseling services, we have found that the root of their pain is linked back to a traumatic experience. We have come to realize that oftentimes, they are suffering from the effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Recently, I read that nearly half of all adults in the United States have experienced at least one traumatic event in their life. For some, the event has been so disturbing that they have developed PTSD, which affects more women than men. Unfortunately, some are unaware of the diagnosis or treatment. It saddens me to think that some people do not receive proper care either because they do not know help is available or they do not realize they are in need of professional assistance. Some are too embarrassed to seek treatment because of the stigma that is attached to mental illness.

But today is a new day. Victims no longer need to feel ashamed. A traumatic event can happen to anyone. Recently, our nation observed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Day to encourage discussions about this condition and to educate people on the resources and effective treatments that are available. I am glad that our nation is acknowledging this disorder. We are making progress in the right direction and I encourage everyone to get involved, including businesses, community agencies, churches, and individuals. Let’s not limit our PTSD Awareness to one day, let’s continue to learn more about the disorder by becoming educated and helping those in need. –serita a. jakes, The Potter’s House – T.D. Jakes Ministries

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