GET IT I FEATURE
Understand PTSD spreads far and wide. That stigma is still attached that you are weak if you have it and your mates don’t, but we are all struggling one way or another.
With PTSD Awareness day happening worldwide on 27 June, Get it’s Kathleen Loxton investigates how our very own Gold Coasters are fighting for the cause
It’s the slam of a door or the sound of a car backfiring that sets off a trigger… causing flashbacks to distant battlefields or harrowing situations past. At least, that’s what post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is portrayed as in the many movies and books we as the general population regularly consume. However, PTSD takes many forms and, according to Phoenix Australia (the Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health), five to 10 per cent of people will experience PTSD at some points in their lives. It’s not a sign of weakness or relegated to certain groups or experiences. It can touch the lives of any of us and is a vital discussion we as a society should be having about mental health. With PTSD Awareness Day happening worldwide on 27 June, we take a moment to shed some light on this important cause.
What is PTSD? Some definitions
• “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
is a treatable anxiety disorder affecting around one million Australians each year. It happens when fear, anxiety and memories of a traumatic event don't go away.The feelings last for a long time and interfere with how people cope with everyday life. PTSD can be caused by traumatic experiences that involve death, serious injury or sexual violence (actual or threatened).This might include physical or sexual assault, living in a war zone, torture, and natural disasters.” - healthdirect.gov.au. “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a group of stress reactions that can develop after we witness a traumatic event, such as death, serious injury or sexual violence to ourselves or to others. PTSD can happen after we've been through one traumatic
event, or after repeated exposure to trauma. Sometimes, PTSD can develop after hearing details about devastating and traumatic events many times, like the experience of some emergency workers.” - blackdoginstitute.org.au.
Though, it was also noted,“For those who experience PTSD, some movies may be triggering. However, some PTSD movies may be enlightening for some who are unfamiliar with PTSD and want to gain a better understanding of what some may go through. Not all movies portray PTSD accurately, and each person’s experience is different.”
How have we seen it portrayed and what are some of the misconceptions?
• The New York Times published an article,
“Debunking Stereotypes Around Veterans and PTSD”,which discussed five main misconceptions about veterans suffering from PTSD and debunked the following myths: if you have PTSD it must seem apparent in your appearance, otherwise it is not severe; most are dealing with PTSD relatively well; those that suffer cannot live a fulfilling life or serve their country; those that suffer from PTSD are not human; veterans are “damaged goods”; those veterans that suffer from PTSD are dangerous. Roland Atkinson stated, in the scientific journal Clinical Psychiatry News,“When I think of other films that excel in depicting stress disorders and postwar adjustment problems, seven stand out:‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ (the subplot involving the 'shell-shocked' soldier, Septimus Smith) (both from WW I); ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’ and ‘Thin Red Line’ (WW II); ‘Coming Home’ and ‘The Deer Hunter’ (Vietnam); and the recent Danish film, ‘Brothers’ (Brodre), about a NATO peacekeeper forced by captors to kill a comrade (post-Sept. 11 Afghan war).” New Vista Behavioural Health recommended the films The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Brothers, and Monster.
Examples of some recent headlines concerning PTSD
• In Get it’s March issue, we reported on Peta
Stapleton’s work, through a study at Bond University, that was investigating the use of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or 'tapping'). In the UK, EFT has met the inclusion criteria for PTSD treatment. “One in five police officers in UK suffer from PTSD, study finds” - The Guardian.
How Gold Coasters are doing their part The Association of Veteran Surfers (AVS) was formed in January 2016, by Matthew Hoare and Kieran Scotchford.This wonderful association stemmed from Matt and Kieran’s experience serving together in the 8/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and from the shared difficulties they faced as veterans transitioning into civilian life. Its goal is to foster a healthy and active suicide free veteran community, through surfing and mateship. A description on the AVS Facebook page reads: “Most veterans struggle to find a career that matches the defence force, many isolate themselves and never find a way to get back on track. Surfing can offer all the same challenges in a healthy and fun way to relieve these stresses. The physical and mental challenges are very similar, the ocean