Take PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Royal College of Psychiatrists says that:
PTSD can start after any traumatic event. A traumatic event is one where we can see that we are in danger, our life is threatened, or where we see other people dying or being injured. Some typical traumatic events would be:
- serious accidents
- military combat
- violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, abuse, robbery, mugging)
- being taken hostage
- terrorist attack
- being a prisoner-of-war
- natural or man-made disasters
- being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
This covers a huge variation of experiences and I find it hard to see them all lumped under one heading. How could I possibly equate my experience with that of someone who has been kept hostage or been through a terrorist attack? I find it hard enough to say that is was a serious accident, rather than your average run-of-the-mill sort, but undoubtedly it was because someone died (is that what labels it as 'serious'?)
But of course that's where the shades of grey come in; yes I am experiencing moments of anxiety, and irrational worry about things that 'might happen' to me or my loved ones, and I get tearful easily (all someone has to do is ask me how I'm coping...), but I don't throw myself to the floor when there is a large bang.
On the subject of getting tearful, all my friends know that I am prone to this anyway in emotional situations. One of the things I remember from the crash was that it happened on a Sunday evening, but there was no trace of any emotion or tears from me until the Tuesday morning when the ward doctor came to tell me that the other driver had died. I don't even know why I cried then, I didn't feel anything for her and I still don't; I had no idea how seriously she was injured and it was unexpected news that she had died, so I suppose I was shocked. I didn't feel any guilt because I knew it wasn't my fault. So why did it upset me?
Maybe it was just a reminder that it wasn't a minor accident, that actually it had changed someone's family's life forever, and maybe - that it was all so pointlessly... pointless.