This is a wonderful week of the year. We enjoy the extra time off work and celebrating with family and friends. We remember the freedom we experience in our country. We eat hotdogs, hamburgers, and cakes in the shape of flags. I love blueberries, strawberries, and cool whip! Even with all the celebrating, the 4th of July is not a happy time for everyone.
This week is a difficult one for those who have experienced trauma, especially for veterans or those who have had devastating events. It is estimated that 20-30% of veterans experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at some point in their lives. The fireworks often trigger anxiety and flashbacks for those who have been in combat. As well, fireworks can upset those with anxiety disorders or those who have been shot or around guns. One veteran in Georgia committed suicide in 2015 after being aggitated by fireworks. Another veteran in Wisconsin believed he was back in Afghanistan and began firing his gun. This is a serious matter that we each need to consider.
We must be sensitive to the needs of those with PTSD during this celebratory week. Veterans state they want people to celebrate but with a courteous and understanding mindset. Veterans expect the 4th of July to be a celebratory day with fireworks, but it can be challenging when it comes at different times throughout the week. It is especially difficult when one is woken by fireworks in the middle of the night.
For those of you who have been through trauma or combat, be aware of the difficulty this week may bring. Take extra precautions to take care of yourself and your mental health. We do want to offer some suggestions to make this week easier.
- Get away. Use this week as an opportunity to get away from the city and from the fireworks. Go camping with your family or travel to a remote cabin for peace and quiet.
- Wear heavy-duty headphones to keep from hearing the fireworks.
- Spend time with family, friends, and other veterans who support you.
- Practice copings skills to help calm you such as getting extra sleep, meditation, deep breathing, exercise, or journaling.
We hope you have a wonderful holiday week. But, be aware of others and aware of yourself. If you suffer from PTSD, you are not alone. Please call us and get help.