Wednesday, October 13, 2021

"Dear Candace Cameron Bure ..."

Candace Cameron Bure (left in the above photo) - formerly of Full House -  has announced that she "thinks she has PTSD" after her stint on The View, and that she didn't expect to talk about politics, just light stuff.

I first thought to myself - erm - had she not seen The View before she agreed to come on it, and had no one told her she was specifically being hired to represent the conservative woman's viewpoint, to replace Elizabeth Hasselbeck?

That sounded hard to believe - HOWEVER - Raven-Symone (above right, in the photo)  - formerly of The Cosby Show - who is black, gay, and on the opposite side of politics - added further explanation and semi-support to Candace, stating that though she doesn't agree with Candace's political opinions, they are still very good friends - and then filled in the blanks left by Candace. 

She explained that what Candace meant is that both she and Candace were "catfished" by the producers, who sold them to come on the show by using the pitch of trying to change the face of the show and the show's reputation by hiring more positive people, hopefully to broaden their audience, and lighten it up, and make it less political - but they didn't.

She added that her time on the show was unnecessarily and extremely stressful, too - but she did NOT say she thought she "had PTSD" because of it.

Regardless, it wasn't Candace's political stance that irked me, nor the  tale of the producers lying to both Candace and Raven-Symone about their presented intent of changing to a more positive face of the show VS. their actual intent for the show during the Trump era.

That part, I totally believe  -  because the more fights that producers can instigate, especially on daytime or Reality TV, the better the ratings.

No, what irked me is the fact that as someone who has been officially diagnosed with PTSD by a licensed professional, I've noticed that over the past few years, people - especially women, right OR left in politics - tend to throw this diagnosis around lightly, without ever having been professionally diagnosed, and without educating themselves on what that really means.

It's not only socially irresponsible, but almost an unintentional insult -  or at least a minimization of -  how crippling it is, lifelong, for those of us with the full-blown disorder.

For starters, there's a difference between PTSS and PTSD - the last letter "S" in PTSS stands for "syndrome," and the "D" in PTSD stands for "disorder" - and the difference between the two is that with actual PTSD, the symptoms last longer, and more severely impact your ability to function overall, long-term.

In other words, the disorder impacts - and even limits - your ability to function, much more severely and for a much longer time.

PTSS is a temporary adjustment syndrome, much like grief (and often including it), temporarily affecting the nervous system and psychological well-being. 

With the short-term syndrome, the daily symptoms like nightmares, insomnia, hypervigilance, and fight-or-flight reactions eventually go away, usually within a year after being removed from the trauma, either on their own or with short-term therapy.

With the actual disorder, the symptoms do not just go away on their own and last much longer, because they've permanently affected the way your brain and neurological system react to stress (until you retrain your brain to new neural pathways that cope with stress differently, which takes practice).

Also, though not always the case, more often than not, people with the full-blown disorder didn't start on stable footing already  - and by that I do NOT mean they were born with a psychological, biological, or genetic disorder.

I mean they often didn't grow up with a stable, appropriately trusting, supportive, and/or safe environment, even to sometimes include childhood trauma -  then tack on some adult trauma(s), and you've got the full-blown disorder that doesn't go away without help and brain re-training.  

(This is why some soldiers' trauma symptoms can appear to pass more quickly versus others.)

Now - either way, syndrome or disorder, your nervous system will likely decide, on its own and without your consent (although your own stinkin' thinkin' can make it worse) to react or "trigger" lifelong, at least to some degree, when presented with a similar stimulus - just the same as a near-drowning victim might experience a full panic attack or fight-or-flight reaction when near water. 

The difference, however,  is how long the symptoms last, as well as how severely they impact your ability to function overall, on a daily basis, not just when presented with the stimulus. 

HOWEVER - I should also note, here, that "delayed response" to trauma has been clinically observed, sometimes even years later, and is even fairly common, particularly in people who handled their trauma by pretending the trauma didn't happen at all or refused to acknowledge it, considering it a weakness or out of misplaced shame (believing they brought the trauma on themselves, like rape or abuse).

In other words, though human reactions to trauma are similar, they're also very complex and can vary by individual - they can be temporary, long-term, and even delayed - which is why the reaction really needs a professional to sort out over time, using specific criterion, for which you have to meet the majority of points for, to be diagnosed with.

And it isn't the PTSD sufferer's fault or choice or "weakness" - in fact, some of the bravest soldiers in the world have PTSD.

It simply means the trauma was so prolonged or severe that it literally permanently changed the way our nervous systems react to  stress and changed our neural pathways of thinking and coping; thus, we have to re-train our brains to follow different, healthier pathways to cope with stress, lest our CNS system always remain aroused, always firing on all cylinders, constantly "hypervigilant" and in fight or flight mode.

Thus, even the symptoms of PTSD can lessen, over time, but it's  actually more about changing how we cope with our symptoms rather than making the symptoms go away completely - but it also helps lessen the symptoms the further we are permanently removed from the trauma stimulus, how safe we feel now, and how surrounded we are by an appropriate, healthy, loving support system now, as well as learning to retrain our brains into healthier, calmer pathways and better coping mechanisms through therapy, by intentional thought and deed, rather than allowing what our brains have been conditioned to believe are natural or autonomic (over)reaction.

And allow me to just add, here, that I mean the right kind of therapy, by educated and licensed clinicians, who stay updated and trained in the latest trauma techniques, are fairly healthy themselves, and who know what they're doing.

Trauma is a field that is actually a fairly new area of study, it's only been since the early 2000s that we began to study and better understand the affects of trauma on the brain, after the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And though we've made leaps and bounds since then, we still don't fully understand it - in fact, we're still learning something new about it, every year, after a plethora of studies on it as a hot study topic, especially now that we've been able to prove actual brain function and central nervous stimulation differences on SPECT scan images of people who have it.

So despite many therapists advertising they can treat trauma, unless they've been through training at one of the few national accredited trauma training centers in the country, they really shouldn't be.

However, some therapy is better than nothing, if the therapists in your area have not completed the full, formal training from a national center in trauma therapy specifically - which includes clocking a certain amount of supervision hours by a trained clinician - but then they should admit that upfront, rather than advertising they can treat PTSD.

Now, having said that, it irks me when wealthy, powerful, and/or famous people (or sometimes just work in a high-level position that people assume makes them stable or sane) - either have good commercial insurance that pays therapists top dollar, or instead they pay the therapist the full fee out of pocket, to avoid psychiatric or psychologic services from showing up on an insurance claim - seek therapists merely to further pat them on the back, tell them what they want to hear, and tell them they have PTSD over things like ... they parked in a handicapped parking space and somebody yelled at them for it.

The therapist should instead be gently-but-rightly confronting them about their behavior choices, but many therapists for the rich and famous don't, out of fear of losing the client and their income ;) 

In fact, I may to do a whole post on that subject soon - how much more the poor (and more women than men, actually) get diagnosed with chronic, severe, and mental illnesses with a social stigma VS. the wealthy -  particularly white men -  who instead are diagnosed with more mild, temporary, and "victim" conditions.  

As a social work student, I read the few studies known to exist on this subject, witnessed it myself in my clinicals, and I have since typed hospital inpatient notes for 25 years, letting me know this study wasn't lying and should be revisited - and thus I have some very good examples to share of where the wealthy person received a mild diagnosis, and the poor person received the scarlet letter diagnosis, with the diagnoses being worse if the patient was female    - despite both patients exhibiting the exact same behaviors  ;)

Additionally, it's important to note that female clinicians were just as guilty of this socioeconomic (and sometimes gender) bias as men.

And they wonder why black people don't seek psychiatric/psychological treatment or therapy as much as white people do - gosh, it's a mystery, isn't it?

However - I do NOT think this is the case with Candace, or that she's a Karen - at least I don't think so  - she said just thinks she has PTSD - not that she had been officially diagnosed. 

Also Candace consistently appears to be a pretty down-to-earth, genuine person, and not a diva   - so I think it's the former reason - that she just doesn't know what that really means, and she didn't educate herself on PTSD before she said it :/

And to her credit, the reason Candace was chosen to represent the Christian conservative viewpoint, on The View is because she's a  better example of a sane Christian conservative woman than most of the televangelists and other cuckoo, loud-mouthed conservative women we see all over the news or in the pubic eye.  

Candace, on the other hand, is a better representative of your typical conservative woman, rather than what we see on the news and in politics - a very kind, reasonable, calm, articulate, and compassionate person, who believes in the compassion of Christ, and is not racist.

(For example, she famously cried and spoke out, just as much as liberals, against what happened to George Floyd.)

I don't always agree with her, no, not even usually, do I agree with her - but I do understand where she's coming from, at least. 

Having said that, on the negative side, make no mistake, she is a conservative, and thus comes across as rather naive and overly simplistic in her views and solutions, and as having lived in a sort of sheltered Christian bubble, with much to learn about what it's like to live in in America as a poor person, person of color, or without the perfect Christian family. 

(Hey, we all have much to learn about the experiences of others from less fortunate backgrounds in America - but some people more than others ;)

Thus, I wrote this to her elsewhere ...

Candace - I didn't see where you were diagnosed by a professional, and I wonder if you might be confusing PTSS and PTSD? 
PTSS is the short-term syndrome, and PTSD is the longer-term disorder, and it takes being diagnosed from a professional to tell the difference. 
I know that this diagnosis has become a pop-term, and yet still, we can't just self-diagnose and contribute to throwing these terms around lightly.   
My unsolicited advice would be first to seek a professional opinion on a diagnosis and educate yourself on these disorders, before announcing this to the public as fact. 
It may also be to your benefit to speak to people with that official diagnosis of PTSD (rather than PTSS) like soldiers and/or rape and domestic violence victims, whose symptoms don't dissipate as easily.  
Secondly, I know that you have a compassionate heart and are very sensitive, and a Christian like myself, so I don't want to minimize or invalidate your experience, but at the same time, just a little truth is good medicine; it can set us free/help heal - I also know that you appear live in a sort of naive Christian bubble and don't have a lot of experience with others' experiences outside of that and have much to learn from people that haven't been as lucky. 
And I do have to tell you/warn you, what you are saying will likely be construed as white privilege and white fragility, to be able to avoid the unpleasant when it suits you - and they may have a point?  
All the best,


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