What it is not

In the media, online and gossip around me have some fairly messed up ideas about PTSD.  PTSD/CPTSD is not rudeness, cruelty to others, or criminal behavior.  Recently, I heard someone say that the reason a person was so rude was because they were mentally ill.  WRONG.  Missing social skills, yes.  Lack of proper upbringing, yes.  But not PTSD or mental illness.  Rudeness is not a symptom.  TV shows depict the “bad” guys as having a rough abusive childhood and that is why they are cruel.  WRONG.  Cruelty is a choice of behavior; it is not a symptom.  Choosing to lash out at others is a choice of behavior not a part of PTSD or CPTSD.  Using PTSD and CPTSD as an excuse for criminal behavior is just that an excuse not a symptom.  No where on any list will you find rudeness, cruelty and criminal behavior listed as symptoms.  Raised in a home without boundaries I was missing social skills.  Lots of them.  I mean most of them. My neighbor taught me that I don’t go into other people’s houses without knocking.  School taught me other citizenship skills, yes, growing up we had citizenship and social skills taught for a grade.  I was sorely lacking in so many different ways.  Many of my sessions with my counselor were spent learning basic social skills that I did not develop because my focus was survival.  I figured out please and thank you but there were many social living behaviors I knew nothing about.  I remember one session my counselor explained to me about things people expect.  When he finished, I was looking at him very puzzled and queried, “People actually do that?”  There was a reason my counselor referred to me as an emotional moron.  I first needed to feel my feelings, identify what they were and then learn the skills needed to navigate human emotional land mines.  Yes, I came across as rude many times but it was not a symptom of PTSD/CPTSD it was a lack of training from a young age. Without emotions it is difficult if not impossible to empathize, understand someone else, or generally know what other people might expect and why.  I still remember one of my jobs asking me to talk with a life coach.  She asked if there was anything that might interfere with any training she gave me.  I said yes and laid out what I learned in counseling.  She then explained how she was going to teach me skills for being a manager.  I bluntly replied, “I don’t do people.  I manage computers, not people.”  The time talking to her was mostly wasted because I literally had no idea what she was talking about most of the time.  PTSD/CPTSD is tough no doubt about it but it does not make a person a criminal, cruel, or a jerk.  Those are a choice.  I work hard every day to choose differently than how I was raised.

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