Some ways to help when you have a friend or loved one suffering with PTSD:
- Just be there for them. PTSD can be very isolating and cause intense loneliness.
- You don’t have to understand all that your friend is going through. Just do your best to be supportive.
- If you friend feels like talking, just listen. If not, be patient. There may come another time when she’s ready to open up.
- Offer practical help. Perhaps you can dog-sit or help with house or yard work. Even offering to run errands for her may mean a lot.
- Do not lecture or offer unsolicited advice. It’s alright to say you’ve recently read something on PTSD that your friend might find interesting. You can help “plant the seed”
- Offer validation and encouragement. Your friend may be trying to understand who she is after the trauma. Help her by reminding her of all her good qualities and why she’s special to you.
Back in 1987, when I hit rock bottom with my PTSD, I reached out to the Veterans Outreach Center. Finally, by speaking to a counselor there (a Vietnam veteran) I found someone who understood me, and what I’d been going through.
While opening up was painful as hell, it was better than the bottling up I’d been doing for twenty years. Today there is so much more information available on PTSD. The best thing you can do for yourself and your friend or loved one is get educated!
You may save someone’s life or sanity by being there and staying supportive. Be the friend you would want, if the tables were turned. It’s not always easy, but it’s so important and worthwhile.