An Open Letter to Students Struggling with PTSD

Dear you,

You’re the one who wishes lectures or readings came with trigger warnings. You’ve felt the sudden, rapid pounding in your chest as something in class triggers terrifying flashbacks. You’ve struggled with trying to remind yourself, “I’m not there anymore. I’m here. This is a safe place,” even though your mind doesn’t really believe it. You’ve had to hope that no one interrupts you while you tried to calm yourself down because one crack in your emotional wall could result in a severe panic attack.

You can’t explain to anyone what it’s like to have these images and memories invading at any time. You can’t tell people what it’s like to have these thoughts invading your mind every single day, or how after you’ve been triggered they wear away at you even more for weeks.

You hear other students complain about homework causing “the worst semester of their lives,” but you can think of a semester that’s been worse. You sit back and listen because it’s easier than talking.

You might have had times when you didn’t want to go on.

But you are here. You’re not alone. You’re allowed to cry; you’re allowed to have panic attacks; you’re allowed to be angry, or scared, or frustrated, or whatever it is you feel. You’re allowed to have bad days and you deserve to have all the help and support you want.

You are not your PTSD. You are not damaged. You are not weak.