This is your writer popping in to do a quick thing about being a friend to someone with PTSD in reaction to a few things in the PTSD tag.
Being a friend with someone who is a survivor or who has a mental illness may be difficult sometimes. Especially for those who do not suffer from Mental Illness.
Being a survivor is beyond logic. Your entire brain rewires. I stopped eating for a long time. Not because I wanted to lose weight, or because I had an eating disorder- but because I was forgetting. I detached myself from my body- because if I didn’t attach myself to my body, it didn’t hurt. I didn’t feel as disgusting, or used. Eating meant being in my body.
Friends got suspicious last year. I began hoarding food trash to prove that I had ate- so that they would stop worrying- so that they would stop forcing me to eat.
When I relapsed a few months ago, I began to do the same thing- even though I was eating. When a close friend found the stash of wrappers, he asked why. I explained that I had to prove that I was eating- and when he asked ‘to who’- I was caught off guard. I didn’t have an answer.
On another occasion, my rapist came through my dorm building. I was sitting with the previously mentioned friend at the RA desk. I got up, I went to the bathroom, and I punched the wall until two of my knuckles rebroke. I returned to the desk- he saw my hand, and he asked if I was okay. I snarked that everything was just peachy.
He said, “You know. Sometimes- you make it hard to care about you.”
I make it very hard to care about me. I work best under pressure, I rarely cry. On a regular basis I was going 80 hours without sleep and days without eating. I also am a wonderful liar. I do spoken word and did theater for a while- if there is one thing I am good at is faking pleasant emotions. People want to care. People know I have PTSD and want to help- but they often make a similar mistake.
They complain to me about how hard it is to be friends with me.
This is a common mistake of people who befriend/date/are family of people with PTSD.
A very common mistake that makes me weary of everyone who isn’t a survivor.
When you know a survivor- or someone with PTSD- you need to consider where they’re coming from.
Yes, I know, it’s hard to watch a friend starve themselves. It’s harder to be the person accidently starving themselves. It is hard to watch a friend be suicidal- it is even harder to be suicidal.
Comfort in. Complain Out.
DO NOT COMPLAIN TO THE PERSON ABOUT HOW HARD IT IS TO WATCH THEM HURT.
DO NOT ASK FOR SYMPATHY OR UNDERSTANDING FROM THEM.
Comfort those who are more effected than you. This could simply be the survivor- or it could be the survivor and their partner/family. Complain to those who aren’t as effected as you. Seek comfort from them.
Stay out of our safe places. If you are not a survivor- or not directly invited by a survivor- stay out of survivor safe spaces.
I am greatly offended by the influx of people in the PTSD tags who talk about how hard it is to live with people who have PTSD.
The most recent post said it was worse to live with a person who has PTSD- than to not have someone there period.
When you say things like that- where survivors of a traumatic experience to read- you tell us not to come home to you.
You tell us to keep walls up.
You tell us to keep you out.
You tell us that our pain is not as important as your comfort.
You are hurting people with PTSD.
You are dehumanizing us. You are making us less than nothing.
You are hurting the people you claim to love.