I can’t sleep at night. Mostly every night, I have nightmares about my past experiences in Venezuela. Back there, two years ago, my country reached a climax due to its government-inflicted crisis, and millions of students took to the streets as a form of protest against the regime. Because I was directly affected by the common problems there, such as hyper-inflation, shortage of food and medicine, and human rights being violated, I decided to go and join the massive movement.
To this day, I’m still dealing with the consequences of it. Having witnessed and lived the brutal repression from the governmental bodies which led to over 100 students being killed, I find myself reliving these scenarios in my dreams. Although I thought that coming to the U.S would lessen some of my anxiety and restlessness, it didn’t; it was when I understood that knowing I was safe here wasn’t enough for me to be OK that I realized I needed help.
It took me a year and four months to understand this problem was destroying my peace of mind and that it would continue to be that way unless I got help. Thus, I started attending counseling sessions at KC with Jennifer Quine. It was obvious for her that I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To this day, I’m still dealing with it, and although my anxiety and irrational fears are still there, I can feel myself getting better at handling them after Quine provided me with certain techniques. I can’t sleep at night, but at least now when I wake up from a nightmare, I am capable of calming myself down and reaching that point where I feel safe again.
PTSD won’t go away unless it is treated. It is essential that people who have gone through some kind of traumatic experience understand this in order to seek help and address the issue. This is why it is fundamental for the benefits of therapy to stop being dismissed in today’s society.
According to PTSD United, 70 percent of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives. This equates to approximately 223.4 million people. At the same time, out of this 70 percent, 20 percent go on to develop PTSD: that equates to approximately 44.7 million people who were or are struggling with PTSD.
What is concerning about these statistics is that, if not properly addressed, they can lead to an even bigger issue: suicide. In March 22 the Florida community lost 19-year-old Sydney Aiello, a Parkland shooting survivor, as a result of survivor’s guilt, as her family declared. Only a week after that, the community was struck again with the suicide of another Parkland shooting survivor whose name and age were not released. The case is still under investigation.
Although Sydney Aiello, just like other Parkland survivors, was being consoled by grief counselors, this was not enough to keep her, a person with her whole life ahead, alive.
Similarly, according to verywellmind, a study found that nearly 22 percent of people who have been sexually assaulted, have also attempted suicide at some point in their life. Also, approximately 23 percent of people who have experienced a physical assault have attempted it as well. Verywellmind also states that 27 percent of people in the U.S. who have had a diagnosis of PTSD have attempted suicide.
Irrefutably, there is a clear connection between PTSD. Because of this, it is fundamental for us as a society to acknowledge the importance and influence of therapy in confronting issues. It is fundamental for us as a society to support one another, to leave those just-ignore-the-problem-and-it-will-go-away thoughts aside, because it won’t, and to admire others’ courage and strength for seeking help, instead of shaming them.
The first step to dealing with PTSD is acknowledging that it won’t disappear by itself—to understand this and seek help. However, as important as this is, exploring different options of therapy is something those affected need to keep in mind. Time, persistence and resilience are key in overcoming traumatic chapters in our lives.
-Adriana Cisneros Emerson is a journalism major from Venezuela. She is a Human Rights activist.