When To Share Your Diagnosis of PTSD
Deciding when to share your diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and with whom, can be difficult to do. Even though talking about PTSD and seeking support from others is an important step toward recovery, choosing who and when to share your diagnosis of PTSD may be stressful and anxiety producing. The uncertainty of how others will react to hearing that you have a mental health issue can be as troubling as dealing with mental illness itself (Stigma Busting: Things Not to Say to Anxious People). There are some ways though, to decide who and when to tell about your PTSD diagnosis.
Why Talking about Your PTSD Diagnosis Is Scary
There are many reasons why you may not want to disclose that you have been diagnosed with PTSD. One of the biggest is that there is a stigma attached to mental illness. Indeed, there are people out there who think that having a psychiatric condition makes you crazy, unpredictable, and unable to lead a normal life. Some may also see PTSD as some sort of mental or emotional weakness, and think that you should just be able to get over it. You may be worried that your employer will not be accepting of your diagnosis. Knowing that there is still a lack of understanding about PTSD and other mental health issues, certainly contributes to the desire to keep it hidden. I have experienced worry and anxiety over all of those things.
Benefits to Talking about Your PTSD Diagnosis
I have found, though, that there are many benefits to sharing your diagnosis, and, for me, they far outweigh the downside of telling. While I felt trepidation in the beginning about discussing my PTSD, doing so has been very valuable to me. The simple (although not always easy) act of talking about it is therapeutic. It lessens fear and anxiety to get it out there and have someone else hear it. I have also found that talking about PTSD helps others to understand that some of the preconceived notions they have are unfounded -- people with mental illness are not crazy, unpredictable, and we can lead a normal life.
Another benefit to sharing your story is that it will help you find a PTSD support system. By talking to others about my PTSD, I know which of my friends and loved ones will be supportive and understanding. Had I not shared my diagnosis, I would never have known.
The most important benefit that I have found to talking about my PTSD is that it just might help someone else. Once I open up to people, the door is opened for them to open up to me as well. I always feel exceedingly fortunate when someone who has heard me talking about my mental health shares their experience with me, asks me questions, or asks for help. That is when I know that talking about it really is worth it.
Things to Think about Before You Share Your Diagnosis of PTSD
Ultimately, who and when you tell about your mental health is your decision. You are in control. Here are some things to consider as you decide what to do:
- Posttraumatic stress disorder is not a sign of weakness. Surviving trauma is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
- Be prepared for questions, especially if who you're telling doesn't have any experience with PTSD. Someone who takes the time to ask you questions is likely someone who cares about what you are going through. Remember, though, you only have to talk about what you want to.
- Be prepared for people who don't understand. Sometimes people may not be ready to hear what you have to tell them. Be sure that you have a support system and coping skills ready for when someone gives you an unwanted response.
- You don't have to tell anyone until you are ready. There isn't an expiration date on telling someone. You get to decide when you feel comfortable talking about it, and you get to decide what you want to share. You don't have to give everyone every detail. It's up to you what you feel comfortable sharing.
- Talking to other PTSD sufferers who have shared their story is helpful. Ask them how they told family and friends about their diagnosis and what the outcome was. You can learn a lot from the experience of others.
DeLoe, J. (2015, November 22). When To Share Your Diagnosis of PTSD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2015/11/ptsd-recovery-when-to-share-your-diagnosis