When People Say Dumb Things About the Hell I Live With

I stopped dead in my annoyed tracks and realized what had actually happened.

That dick friend of mine? Surprising to no one, his mom is what some might call…rigid.

Being “out” about PTSD (the car wreck part, I rarely open up about the rest of it) and being fairly open about my experience with anxiety, triggers and medication means that I get to hear a lot of dumb things. I don’t accept that “people mean well”, because they don’t, and that is a garbage excuse for projecting your ignorance onto someone who has an injury. I said the same when my brother was hurt. If you don’t know what to say, ask.

So this mom is a very religious and fairly judgmental person, and has actually said, when she learned that I see a therapist, “Well, I’m glad that works for you.”

It does. It’s like physical therapy, but for my brain. People have to work hard to get their bodies functional again after trauma and injury, and my brain is part of my body. Pretty simple. Also pretty hard for her to not say dumb things about.

I was annoyed yesterday at church when she asked how I’m doing and I excitedly told her I have been able to calm myself twice now (three times including last night!) without medication. She immediately wanted to know what role Scripture played in me doing that.

None.

She’s of the view (that I see pretty often at church) that the Bible holds all of the answers for healing mental health issues. You just pray and memorize enough verses and it goes away. We can take our kids to the surgeon for broken arms, but if you have broken brain? Just pray! Hahahahahahahaha. No.

I gave her a compromise between my actual experience and what she wanted to hear, because I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I later shot an expletive her way when I was telling my mom about it.

I stopped dead in my annoyed tracks and realized what had actually happened.

She had tried to equate her experience with depression (some kind of six month deal that “went away” either post-partum or at another time in her life, I don’t recall) with PTSD. Not the same. Not even close. And not because her experience is less valid or less important or less difficult, but because they are simply just two different experiences altogether. And I in my annoyance at her clumsy words I had missed what she was really trying to say.

She’s asking me to validate her experience.

She doesn’t have the freedom to look anywhere but the Bible for mental healing and health. She doesn’t have exposure to someone who comfortably works with the science and feels no shame about her extra-Scriptural approach to healing brain trauma. She is having her assumptions challenged and her perspective widened, and that means she might have done it wrong. Which is scary.

Which really isn’t wrong, it just maybe isn’t the most comprehensive or helpful way to look at it.

Being out and still in recovery is hard. But not as hard as not knowing and feeling how she probably feels because she doesn’t understand her experience and doesn’t know where to place it in the way she practices her faith. I’m not annoyed anymore, I’m a little sad and reminded, once again, to always be kind first.

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