So you know someone with PTSD. How do you act around them?
There are many questions that come up, especially if you are not familiar with #PTSD. Many people who suffer from PTSD lose their friends, many times family, all because others do not understand these very things.
A person with PTSD is no different than you or I; they have just been through something traumatic which caused them to develop PTSD. They are still human, they still have feelings, and they still put clothes on just like the next person.
So here are some of many tips that are good to know:
- Treat them just like you would anyone else! One of the worst things you could do to a person who suffers from PTSD is to treat them like they have a plague!
- Don’t ask insensitive questions! Like “Did you kill someone?”. One, who really wants to talk about that in the first place, would you? No! Two, you may be opening a huge can of worms that really irritates them or makes them feel bad. Why? Because maybe they were NOT military or law enforcement. Civilians can have PTSD too and traumas include a wide range of what different people have experienced which lead to PTSD. If they want to share their story with you, they will. Leave that up to them. Majority of the time they would rather talk about the same everyday things that the next person would.
- Repeating themselves. Many with PTSD and/or TBI have some type of memory issues. If they do repeat something just go with it. No need to state “you’ve already told me that.” When you say things like that it makes them feel belittled and they are going to get really quiet on you.
- Give them space. They my not always be able to keep a schedule, on rough days they will want to stay home. Those with PTSD do not like others seeing the rough side or what they battle that comes with it. Be respectful of that and something that might not happen today can always be rescheduled for another day.
- Don’t make “fun” of anyone with a disability. One, It’s not nice or respectful in the first place. Two, You never know who it could effect or even someone else they might know.
- Never judge them. You don’t know or understand what they have been through that lead them to PTSD so don’t judge them on something you don’t understand.
- Have respect for personal space. PTSD can be caused by many different types of traumas. Many times a person needs their personal physical space from others. Avoid approaching them from behind without them knowing. Even touching them in a friendly manner sometimes can lead to a trigger. Read their body language, if they are joking with you and tapping your shoulder then it’s probably okay to do it back. Use your brain.
- Don’t put them down! One with PTSD has a hard enough time maintaining their self-esteem and sure does not need outside influence which could cause it to become worse! You wouldn’t want someone putting you down or talking bad about you, so don’t do it to them. Point out the good things don’t focus on the negative.
Would you walk up behind an elderly woman and put your hand on her shoulder? You might but if you do you stand a good chance of being waled on by her handbag! So no, don’t do things like that to one with PTSD either.
- Learn about PTSD! Even if you don’t think you know someone that has it, odds are you actually do! PTSD can affect anyone, it’s not only military related. It can be caused by a car accident, a rape or attack, a natural disaster, even from being in a hospital! It can be from anything that caused a trauma in a person’s life where symptoms last for more than a month. And many times you are not going to know about a sensitive matter.
- Use your brain before your mouth. If it is something that you would not want said to you, then why say it to someone else. Every person can think before they speak
A person with PTSD is still a person, a human being. They can throw a great cook-out, they can be a great friend, a great father or mother, a wonderful part of a family or workplace. They just have an unseen disability that causes them to react and/or view things differently but makes them no less of a person. Some of the most kindest, caring, and sensible people you will ever meet have PTSD… it makes them appreciate life more than the average person that takes life for granted.
Take the time to educate yourself, and unfortunately… you never know when it might be you in their very shoes. Traumas can happen to anyone. What PTSD causes does bring changes to a person’s life, but you can make a positive change! LEARN now and you could change the life of someone else… or maybe even help save one!