Sickle Cell and PTSD
Last updated: May 2022
Having a chronic illness is not easy at all and I know that a lot of us have been through some traumatic experiences.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
It got me thinking about post-traumatic stress syndrome. I have nearly died three times. We go through so much not to mention all of the pain, seeing blood going through our veins when we have a transfusion, getting pricked with a needle up to 15 times at once, even being treated like a drug addict by the people we put our trust in like doctors and nurses.
Impacts on our mental health
These traumatic moments must have an influence on most of us and our mental health. I myself suffer from depression and anxiety but the traumatic experiences from my past have often held me back or have played heavy on my mind.
Trips to the hospital
I have even got to the point where I find it very uncomfortable to admit myself into hospital because of the long wait in A & E (accident and emergency) and how we get treated before being seen by our doctors. Often, we are left sitting on hard chairs in the waiting room watching tons of others going in to be seen before us.
Not to mention, not getting our pain relief on time. This seems to be a regular recurrence not once or twice but all the time. If I can, I try to stay at home for at least three weeks before going into hospital. Yes, I'll admit, it's just the fact that it kind of stresses me out knowing that I may have to wait in a hardback chair for 8 hours and probably not get my medication on time. It's sad that I would rather struggle at home than be treated poorly in hospital.
But I am not here to talk about the mistreatment in the health care system as I would be here forever. I do think, however, a lot of us have gone through things that no one should go through in their life, but we just keep it inside and keep on going.
Imagine being in pain nearly every day and still having to work, look after the kids, clean and take care of the home, look after your body, go to appointments, smile, socialize, be a good partner and also go through traumatic experiences at least 7 times in your lifetime. It is A LOT!
Therapy for family and caregivers, too
I believe that everyone that has a chronic illness must have some form of PTSD (just my opinion). Saying this, I think we all do very well to get on with life and not let it hold us back. I think it is important for everyone that has sickle cell to have some form of therapy and I think it should start from childhood as children also go through a lot and may not express it as well as an adult might.
As well as the patients I believe that caregivers should have free therapy. I also have a son, so I believe every child that has a parent with sickle cell should also have someone to talk to as they may witness some traumatic experiences at a young age.
My sister witnessed so much when we were growing up and she recently said to me she finds it hard to see me in hospital as I have got older. Relatives have seen me in many forms and although we as sickle cell warriors have horrible memories, so do they. I wish everyone involved in a patient’s life were able to have some sort of therapy, but we all know the reality of that.
Therapy can be very expensive and not everyone will be open to the idea. I just hope that everyone that has a chronic illness can one day get some form of free therapy. I have a therapist and she really has helped me get through some tough times. I am lucky as I have been able to be in contact with her for free but for many, I know that this Is still not possible.
If you have got PTSD or experienced any kind of trauma my heart is with you as I know exactly what it is like. I will say one last thing: you have made it this far and we are in this together. Love you all, brothers and sisters. Stay strong.
Are you interested in connecting with other sickle cell warriors?