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I got together with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time last week, and we ended up spending most of the day together. I picked a terrible coffee place for an intimate chat, tiny with acoustics that caused our voices to echo off every wall. I’m sure the barista heard way more about my cranky uterus then he ever wanted, but I like to think maybe he learned something about white privilege too.
My friend suffers from PTS, which you probably know as PTSD or Post Traumatic Tress Disorder. She told me she didn’t like being referred to as ‘disordered.’ She feels broken enough already.
I’m no doctor or psychologist, but I know that PTS is a response to a traumatic event. Something terrible goes down, and the brain says, “screw that, I cannot deal.” But is that really disordered? Shouldn’t anyone with a decent amount of compassion and empathy have a deep response to trauma?
There’s a word for people who experience, witness (or cause) traumatic events and skip along on their merry way, unaffected: Psychopaths.
After experimenting with several alternatives to the ‘D,’ I suggested replacing with ‘I’ for Injury. Post Traumatic Stress Injury. ‘Disorder’ carries the weight of stigma and broken-ness that ‘injury’ doesn’t conjure, at least for me. My friend liked it too.
Everyone gets injured. You fall off your bike. You stub your toe. You get hurt in a car accident. It’s not your fault. But you gotta deal with the mess. That’s true for your brain as much as your body–and that’s only natural.