Debates rage about PTSD and mental illness. Some say it is not an illness. Some say that they don’t want to be labeled mentally ill.
Illness: a condition of being unhealthy in your body or mind
: a specific condition that prevents your body or mind from working normally : a sickness or disease
PTSD by this definition is an illness. Sometimes people find a cure. Hurrah for them. I’m truly happy for them. PTSD became part of my life around 5 years old. I don’t know anything else. There are some advantages of PTSD being an illness. It means it is not me. When I had cancer, I was not cancer, I had cancer. I am not PTSD, I have PTSD. Some illnesses have no cure. Some people are affected by PTSD their entire life. Some people have MS, diabetes, chronic fatigue, and a host of other long term/life time illnesses. They get depressed, frustrated and misunderstood. PTSD I get depressed, frustrated and misunderstood.
When I didn’t have a label for PTSD I couldn’t do research for it. I couldn’t name it when doctors asked what was wrong. I couldn’t fight what was attacking me when I didn’t know what it was. I stumbled through books and libraries reading tons of information on what I don’t have. Now I can focus on research that specifically helps me. Broadens my understanding of what I live with, every day. I don’t get vacation days. I don’t even get time outs. When I go to sleep the nightmares take over. Some activities may numb me temporarily but it is always waiting for me. Right their dogging my heels. If I run it runs with me.
I also was able to use the DSM-!V coding to be able to get allowances made for me at work. I was able to get the paperwork done that labeled me with an emotional disability that allowed me to have breaks at work when needed without getting fired. Without the labels from the DSM-IV, I would have been fired. I had a safety net. I was able to function most of the time. This gave me an opportunity to continue working when I needed occasional breaks to deal with sleepiness due to insomnia. I for one am deeply grateful to all those that proceeded me to finally diagnosis PTSD as a recognizable reaction to severe trauma. I no longer feel like I am fighting a shadow warrior that hated me. I am fighting PTSD. My counselor taught me ways to fight more effectively. I am getting better and better. Years ago, my counselor told me, “I don’t want you to just survive, I want you to thrive.” I am starting to know what he means. Thriving is cool stuff.