PTSD Awareness, What is PTSD, Villayat 'SnowMoon Wolf' Sunkmanitu

What is PTSD?

According to Combat Stress:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex and debilitating condition that can affect every aspect of a person's life.

It is a psychological response to the experience of an event (or events) of an intensely traumatic nature.  These type of events often involve a risk to life – one's own or that of one's colleagues.

It is a condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or culture.

PTSD has been known to exist since ancient times, albeit under the guise of different names.

During the First World War it was referred to as "shell shock"; as "war neurosis" during WWII; and as "combat stress reaction" during the Vietnam War.  In the 1980s the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was introduced – the term we still use today.

Although PTSD was first brought to public attention by War Veterans, it can result from any number of traumatic incidents.  The common denominator is exposure to a threatening event that has provoked intense fear, horror or a sense of helplessness in the individual concerned.

The sort of traumatic events that might be experienced by members of the general public include physical assault, rape, accidents or witnessing the death or injury of others – as well as natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and fires.

In the case of Serving personnel, traumatic events mostly relate to the direct experience of combat, to operating in a dangerous war-zone, or to taking part in difficult and distressing peace-keeping operations.

Using Creativity to cope with PTSD
Why do Creative Arts help people with PTSD? I'm not a mental health professional, so all I can do is share information with you from my own experiences and perspective. I find it hard to talk about some of the issues relating to the incidents that caused my PTSD. When I write my poetry, my feelings just come pouring out, subconciously.

don't know what's going to come out of the process of writing or how it's going to make me feel. There seems to be a two part process: the initial subconcious release of whatever's floating around in my head and then the conscious awareness of where I am in my journey when I read my own words conciously. It feels like I'm reading my words for the first time and I'm sometimes stunned at what comes out. The third stage is when I craft the form to something that I like and the poem is complete. I often sit there gob-smacked at some of the results because I've given the disassociated part of my persona a voice.

As for my photography, I guess it's the focus. Whatever the subject is, whether it's abstract art, scenery, travel, wildlife or fast moving subjects, the concentration involved puts me in a different space for a while and actually utilises parts of PTSD; Eg hyper awareness comes in very useful when I'm either out after wildlife where I could become the subject's food source. If I'm photographing something like an off-road bike race the added awareness of my surroundings and the bikes keeps me safe from the possibility of impacts with fast moving motor bikes that are airborne for the shot and landing near me.

There's also another element, you keep facing your fear of something dangerous, hence the love of photographing subjects that have an element of danger about them. It's not about being macho ... it's about not locking up in a dangerous situation and being able to operate and bring about the desired result irrespective of the risk. This is the most taxing of my coping mechanisms and recharge time after the event can take a while ... but when I look at the results of my efforts, I feel the risk and effort has been worthwhile.

There are all manner of creative arts that can help people to process their issues or to provide a release from PTSD. Music, writing, painting, singing ... the list is endless. Find something that floats your boat and give it a go?

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu


Blogger Pinterest
Site Meter