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“I understand,” some well-meaning friends and family said to me when I told them I was struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Really, do you? I wondered, a bit agitated. I must admit, my PTSD and irritability can go hand in hand. Yes, I was annoyed, but I also felt invalidated.

Did they truly know what it was like to feel like your brain has been hijacked, stuck in the past, living in constant fear and to be oh-so-exhausted — and depressed?

No, they probably didn’t —and for that, I am grateful.

While I wish no one would ever have to endure the effects of PTSD, for those of us who have struggled with it, one of the most difficult things can be this: people can have a tendency to downplay or deny that we even have PTSD.

“You don’t have PTSD. You are just having marital problems,” they might say.

I know our friends and family members mean well, but since it’s PTSD Awareness Month, I’d like to open up a dialog between those who struggle with PTSD and those who don’t.

Too often, when it comes to mental illness, we are afraid to say anything at all — we certainly don’t want to say the wrong thing.1

I polled my Facebook community recently, asking those with PTSD what they wish they could hear from loved ones.

Click here to read the list of 25 helpful things to say to those who have PTSD on The Mighty.

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