Dear Annie: As a military war veteran and someone raised in the midst of inner-city violence, I have suffered from and learned a great deal about post-traumatic stress disorder. There are many misconceptions about this common and treatable illness, and I want to make sure your readers know the truth about PTSD and how to get help if they need it.
When I got out of the service, I could only sit in certain positions in a room and go to certain places. I couldn’t be in crowds or tolerate any kind of loud traffic noise (not easy for a New Yorker). I couldn’t sit next to a window.
I didn’t recognize this at the time as PTSD. I know there are many others with stories like mine, and I want them to know that PTSD is a real illness with real treatment options. It is also important to know that this doesn’t only affect members of the military. Anyone who experiences a traumatic event can develop PTSD.
It wasn’t easy, but I eventually got the help I needed and am in a much better place. June 20 is PTSD Screening Day, and June is PTSD Awareness Month. Anyone can go online and take a free and anonymous screening at www.PTSDScreening.org to see whether their symptoms are consistent with those of PTSD. It can be hard to reach out and ask for help, but doing so can make a huge difference. – William Terry
Dear Mr. Terry: Thank you for sharing your story with our readers. You are correct that anyone who has witnessed or experienced trauma can suffer from PTSD. This includes anyone affected by recent tragedies such as Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon and the tornadoes in Oklahoma. The first step to getting help is identifying the problem. We urge those who think their experience with trauma is impacting them to go to the website and take a short, free, anonymous screening. You won’t be sorry.