However many decades ago, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, was a relatively unknown form of mental illness. There have since been massive public education campaigns on PTSD and how it can affect people who experience significant tragedies, particularly soldiers involved in war. In the however-many-decades since, education efforts have increased awareness to the point that you often hear people jokingly or half-seriously talking about having PTSD, similar to how people often talk about depression and anxiety.
Awareness is good, but it’s a double-edged sword: we throw around mental illness labels like PTSD too frequently and unseriously, and as a result we may think we know what PTSD really entails, but probably we don’t understand it as well as we should. The result is both a tendency to self-diagnose (don’t do this!), as well as dangerous misperceptions about how the illness actually affects people (stereotyping and prejudice… don’t do this either!).
How do we address these risks? First, we actively seek to learn, even when we think we already have the right answers. Second, we actively seek to listen with compassion and curiosity to those whose lives have been directly affected by mental illness. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do in this week’s discussion, starting with a brief but highly informative video on PTSD inspired by a mental health advocate who has lived with the condition. Another great opportunity to become more educated and to expand our capacity to empathize!
Our warm-up question for this week:
Would you rather be good at writing books, or writing songs? What’s one book or song that you wish you could have written?
See you soon,