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How Fireworks Can Harm Veterans With PTSD
You might love to honor the Americans who died serving in the armed forces with fireworks. But nearby military veterans might not be as thrilled about fireworks when coping with their PTSD symptoms getting triggered. Fireworks can be a severe trigger for those who suffer from Combat-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Combat PTSD. If you truly want to help and understand veterans who live with PTSD, you’ll take time to consider why fireworks are painful trigger for so many veterans with PTSD. You'll also understand why triggers are serious business and not just excuses for us PTSD sufferers to whine.
People seem to misunderstand what triggers are and how they work. They see all things trigger-related as manifestations of Tumblr. This mindset is not only ignorant, but bigoted. When you reduce triggers to Tumblr nonsense, you're ignoring the suffering of many people. That includes the suffering of people who serve in the military. Veterans are 50% more likely to commit suicide than civilians. According to the RAND corporation, “at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression.” While other legitimate research has come up figures between 4 to 17%, there are more than enough valid reasons to suspect that these figures are far too low.
If you understand PTSD, then you’ll understand why the stresses faced during military service could cause someone to develop this mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, "PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have seen or lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event." When people with PTSD like myself talk about triggers, we're talking about "something that cues, or sets off, the symptoms of PTSD in the body." Triggering stimuli doesn't necessarily come in the form of " an external trigger, a situation, or something we see or hear in our day-to-day life." Triggers can also be "something internal (like a thought or feeling)" that "can cause anxiety, flashbacks, the fight or flight response, or any number of other PTSD symptoms."
Triggers are capable of producing such strong reactions in PTSD sufferers because PTSD physically damages your brain. Combat PTSD is no exception. PTSD turns can something as seemingly harmless as a firework show into an excruciating experience for those who suffer from PTSD. The booming, flashing lights, and possible rattling of walls further convinces their brain that the trauma is happening again. Flashbacks are more than unpleasant memories. They’re vivid experiences, complete with all sorts of sensations associated with the trauma. So when a person with Combat PTSD is triggered, they don’t just think of their friends murdered, flying body parts, having to remain in inhospitable conditions for extended periods of time, etc. They feel it. They often have full-blown hallucinations, too. It’s feels like a replica their traumatic experience. That's how triggers can make life unbearable enough to drive a person to suicide.
Honoring the brave people who lost their lives while serving in the military is something we should do every day. In order to advance the lives of living veterans and the people currently serving in the military, we must keep all conversations about the issues they face that make their lives more difficult constantly ongoing. It’s a slap in the face of their service to do otherwise. That’s why you should take the time to understand why veterans living with PTSD might not appreciate the booming, light flashes, and the sensations that accompany fireworks. Those effects can cause severe reactions because they’re reminiscent of combat experiences.
I implore you to invest effort in being compassionate and spreading awareness about mental health issues faced by veterans. Be sure to be there for the veterans who are alive and struggling with mental illness. After all, the many lives we honor on Memorial Day include those of suicide victims.
#Real #MemorialDay #CombatPTSD #Triggers #MentalHealth #Awareness #MilitaryMatters #Suicide #NeverForget
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