I’m sorry we had to leave the grocery store.
I’m sorry we couldn’t go to the festival.
I’m sorry we had to leave the theater during the new blockbuster movie based off the war in Iraq.
I’m sorry I get nervous when I see trash bags on the side of the road.
I’m sorry I wake you in the middle of the night.
I’m sorry I’m not the same man.
Sound familiar? Is it shame? Or is it guilt?
Studies have shown the people that suffer from PTSD are likely to feel shameful and guilty following a traumatic event.
The experience of shame has been found to be connected to Veterans suffering from PTSD. Similar to women who have been exposed to domestic violence. These studies found that shame had a much stronger connection with PTSD than guilt.
Further Research suggests that the experiencing shame associated with PTSD event may lead you to use unhealthy coping strategies, such as drug and alcohol abuse resulting in “SUD” Substance Use Disorder, and other self-destructive behaviors, which can interfere with your ability to think rationally when dealing with a traumatic event. As a result, the symptoms of PTSD are magnified and can ultimately lead to suicidal behavior.
Shame is an emotional response that causes you to judge yourself in a negative manner. You might view themselves as worthless, weak, bad, or useless. Causing you to apologize for the things you can’t control.
What can I do?
There are several ways to cope with the symptoms of PTSD and the shame that comes with it. My personal favorite is seeking social support within the community. Reaching out to the people around you can be one of the most effective forms of treatment when learning to live with a traumatic experience.
Research shows that a sense of belonging is extremely important for emotional health and well-being; those who have social support but don’t feel a sense of belonging are much more likely to suffer from depression. After all, isn’t that one of the main reasons Veterans miss their days in the military?
Here are a few things you can do:
In the end, NEVER feel shameful or guilty for who you are and what you’ve been through. It is part of who you are. Everything in this life is a lesson no matter how deep the wound. It is important that you know that you are not alone and people do understand. It’s ok to feel vulnerable, it’s even better to let someone in.