During an armed robbery at the age of seven in Harlem, I witnessed the murders of my mother Helen Thomas, her boyfriend Ian Richardson and my Godmother, Ethylene Carne. Although I suffered from a gunshot wound, it was the mental scars that did the most significant damage. Since this tragic event, I have been clinically diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (PTSD)
What took me such a long time to deal with PTSD is that I chose to avoid any reference to the above-mentioned murders.
In late 2013, I finally realized that avoiding discussions in reference to my mother’s death did more harm than good. All the trapped in guilt, shame and anger were taking a huge toll on my mental and physical health because I chose avoidance.
According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within three months of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships.
People of all ages can have post-traumatic stress disorder and the most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:
Childhood neglect and physical abuse
Being threatened with a weapon
Many other traumatic events also can lead to PTSD, such as fire, natural disaster, mugging, robbery, car accident, plane crash, torture, kidnapping, life-threatening medical diagnosis, terrorist attack, and other extreme or life-threatening events.
Although admitting that you may need mental health care isn't always easy, getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reducing symptoms and improve function.
If you think you may have post-traumatic stress disorder or any mental health disorder, make an appointment with your primary care provider or a mental health provider.
Stop avoiding mental health conditions that will only worsen without proper treatment. Running away rarely solves anything.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
Also, if you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, please call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Until next time, God Bless and enjoy your day.