9 Things Professional Women Should Know About Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

At a time when conversations around mental health are becoming more prevalent, particularly for women, it’s important not to leave PTSD out of the conversation.

Photo credit: Verne Ho

Trigger Warning. This article contains content that may be triggering. It includes a discussion of alcoholism, PTSD, abuse, trauma, mental health, and sexual abuse.

The first time I saw any depiction of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was in 2010 when the Tyler Perry movie “For Colored Girls” came out in theatres. If you haven’t watched the movie, there’s a scene in which an alcoholic war veteran who was experiencing PTSD, portrayed by Michael Ealy, dropped two small children from a third or fourth-story apartment window.

I couldn’t sleep that night. And despite the award-winning storyline and line-up of an all-star black cast, I couldn’t stomach re-watching the movie in fear of reliving the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach from that scene.

For a while, I took no action to look into PTSD any further than that movie. Back then, I was a young professional, and in my mind, there was no reason to do so because it seemed so far removed from my reality.

Until it wasn’t.

Years later, my timeline became ablaze with commentary about Gabrielle Union’s video for a Mental Health Awareness Month initiative entitled #MyYoungerSelf for Child Mind Institute. As a huge fan of hers, the admission took me aback. Not because of her disclosure about facing PTSD after a sexual assault, but more so because all of the sudden this once distant condition that I had only associated with a fictitious male veteran suddenly had a name that I knew, and a face that looked a lot like mine.

As my fellow millennials would say, “I was shook.”

To be transparent, Union wasn’t anyone I knew personally. But all of a sudden it begged the personal question(s) What else don’t I know about PTSD? How did she get it? How fast did she, or others take to heal from it?

A Google search quickly revealed the answers.

“Often after experiencing a traumatic and life-threatening event our bodies continue to overproduce these stress hormones.,” said Shaina F. Gonzales, LCSW the founder of the Los Angeles-based company, Therapeutic Bridges. “This causes symptoms of PTSD to continue to linger even when there is no danger present,” Gonzales added.

June is PTSD awareness month. And given the mainstream commentary we’re seeing unfold around Naomi Osaka, and women’s mental health, I felt it was important not to leave PTSD out of the conversation. Furthermore, to offer information around the condition so the general public, especially professional women, know how others have braved their symptoms and/ or diagnosis.

Here are 9 Things Professional Women Should Know About PTSD.

Even with these 9 insights, women should know that healing is possible, and help is available if and when you’re ready to ask. “It can be comforting to know that people can heal from most traumatic events with time and the support of the people who care about them,” said Patricia Alvarado, MA, LPCC, the Director of the Los Angeles-based practice Alvarado Therapy. “This, along with mental health support, can help those suffering from PTSD manage reactions to trauma and continue living with as much normalcy through the healing process.”

If you’re experiencing symptoms of PTSD you can reach SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1–800–662-HELP.

You can also use the services of companies like Peer Collective, Talkspace, or Betterhelp, or join the community at Wingwomen.

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Adonica Shaw

Adonica Shaw is the founder of the social media network Wingwomen.