GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – June is PTSD Awareness Month, and thousands of veterans are suffering every day from their experience serving our country. One Grand Junction resident is speaking up and sharing her story in the hope of breaking down the stigma of PTSD – and letting veterans know they aren’t alone.
Christine has been living with PTSD for over 20 years. Besides neck pain, jaw pain, back pain, and headaches, she also suffers from flashbacks and nightmares -things that cause her to self-isolate.
But now, she’s sharing her story with the Grand Valley. Christine wished to keep her face hidden, but her words and her message are what you need to pay attention to.
“None of us asked for PTSD, this is a life-long sentence,” Christine says. She is one of the thousands of veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder every day. It has greatly affected her life, from talking with friends and family – to shopping for groceries. “I just order what I need from Amazon because I don’t want to go out into a store. It’s hard to be around people.”
Christine developed this debilitating condition after serving her country in the Armed Forces. While enlisted in the U.S. Navy, Christine survived a series of traumatic attacks; violent incidents that had nothing to do with combat. “I was assaulted [in] four different attacks by men that I worked with every day,” Christine recounted. These encounters left her with 100% Service Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – a diagnosis that she carries with her every moment of her life.
“People will look at me and say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with her.’ What people don’t see is what goes on behind closed doors. They don’t see or hear me and other veterans waking up screaming during the middle of the night.”
Christine says besides the physical pain of PTSD, one of the hardest parts is the judgment of others – and the silence of veterans who need help. “By this time tomorrow,” Christine says, “There will be 24 more dead veterans by suicide.”
Now, Christine is speaking out and reaching out to fellow veterans who are isolated and in need. “I want to see veterans to be able to reach out and speak out. These men and women, they need to be heard.”
She’s sharing her story to show others with PTSD – they’re not alone. “Don’t be ashamed,” She says. “Hold your head high. The fact that you have PTSD and you’re still here says a lot about the strength and integrity of a person.”
If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD and needs help, please call the Veteran’s Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. You can also text 838255.
For more on the Crisis Line, click here.
For resources from the VA Western Colorado Health Care System, click here.
For a link to the Veterans Art Center, click here.