By: Sarah Ames
Have you ever been through a traumatic event? Just one is all it takes to cause the start of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It happens after a traumatic event and causes intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and even breaks in reality.
Former Marine Cpl. Eddie Ray Routh suffers from PTSD. Psychiatrists believe it was his disorder that caused him to snap and attack the friends who were trying to help him recover at the shooting range. One being American sniper, Chris Kyle.
The difficult issue has effected the lives of many. Like USC senior, Megan McDevitt.
“I needed to borrow someone's phone to call a cab because our phones didn't work. I couldn't hear so we went into the ally and that's when I was mugged at knife point," McDevitt said.
The 21-year-old McDevitt recalls going to Belize for a fun Spring Break vacation, not knowing her life would be changed forever. She now struggles with coping with the PTSD that's left behind.
It's an issue that is often associated with military life and combat, as many soldiers come home from combat zones showing symptoms. At the Chaplain Family Life Center on Ft. Jackson, civilians, soldiers and their families are welcome to seek professional counseling for a range of different emotional and psychological needs.
Chaplain Major Matthew Hall is very familiar with PTSD. He's helped many soldiers deal with the troubling effects of PTSD, but he reminded us, soldiers in combat aren't the only ones effected by it.
“Think of being involved in a plane crash, a car pile-up on the highway. There are a lot of different things that people can go through that are traumatic events,” Hall said.
Hall said the lack of treatment is what causes the actual disorder. He said PTSD is often stigmatized in a way that makes people feel embarrassed to ask for help. Like any injury sustained from a trauma, it's a wound that needs healing and has to be lived with daily.
Chaplain Hall compares the different injuries of war:physical, and emotional. Although PTSD can't be seen as easily as the wounds of an amputtee, the effects are just as powerful and painful.
“There is no gaping chest wound. There is nothing you can do to just help him and yet he is suffering from these terrible internal wounds," Chaplain Hall said.
These wounds are something Megan is very familiar with. Almost four years after the incident she still feels the effects of PTSD, but she recalls the very beginning when her symptoms were much worse.
“I've had triggers which I didn't really know what they were at first, but they would cause random panic attacks in class and while driving. I've had nightmares. Just fear and panic when it wasn't really necessary. I wasn't in any real danger," McDevitt said.
There are medicines prescribed that can help with the symptoms felt by PTSD. McDevitt says there's no specific drugs prescribed for PTSD but she takes medication for the lingering anxiety and depression. She says they help a lot.
"It's hard, but you take it a day at a time, and my medicine really helps me feel better," McDevitt said.
Chaplain Hall says the main concern is getting those suffering to seek help for more assessment and medication. He says the most important thing loved ones can do is provide emotional support and comfort and to remain as sensitive and understanding as possible.
“Say I don't understand what you've gone through, I can't understand it. But I can be sympathetic, and I can be here to listen to you,” Hall said.
Megan has not let her setbacks keep her too down. Today she is a fun bubbly girl, always laughing. And guess what she's doing for Spring Break?
"I'm still going on Spring Break this year with a bunch of friends out of the country....even though my parents don't really want me to," McDevitt kind of jokes.
She will be flying to Cancun in just a couple weeks and feels excited and confident about her future. She thinks it's important to not let things you can't control, control you. And most importantly she keeps a smile on her face and a positive attitude with her.
“I think it's important to keep living life when things get you down,” McDevitt said.
Through her trials she's maintained a high spirit and is able to laugh, which sometimes is the best medicine. She wants to use her experiences to help others dealing with similar issues. She's majoring in psychology and criminal justice and hopes to help fight back PTSD possibly with veterans. But for now she's still taking things one day at a time.