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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

December 14, 2021

I Need Someone

Screaming for ice cream

We pull into the ice cream parlour parking lot. I throw up in the front seat of Dad’s car. 

“Geez, kid. If you were feeling sick, we didn’t have to come,” he smiles reassuringly. “I’ll be back in a sec.” He runs into the ice-cream parlour. I shiver. I sweat. I remember. She was so nice. She just wanted to help. Took me out for ice cream. Lots of ice cream. In her car. In her car. Always in her car. She understood about my mom’s leaving. She wanted to help. In her car. Behind the ice-cream parlour. Where no one could see her. Touching me. Undressing me. In her car. 

The car door opens. I jump. I scream. 

“Hey, just going to do away with this cup,” Dad says, scooping the mess with a plastic purple spoon into an ice cream cup. He cleans the mess. But I still feel dirty. Always feel dirty and sick in the parking lot of the ice cream parlour. 

What is it? 

Physical, physiological, emotional and/or social reactions to a traumatic or terrifying event that either happened to you or a loved one, or that you saw. PTSD affects your day-to-day life, relationships, mood, sleep, memory and more. It can start well after the traumatic event, even years later. 

How do I know? 

  • Physical: Sleep issues, increased startle response, panic symptoms.
  • Emotional: Recurring and unwanted thoughts and memories, flashbacks, nightmares, guilt, negative beliefs, no enjoyment in previous activities.
  • Behavioural: Reliving the event, problems coping with day-to-day routine, unable to focus, severe anxiety, avoiding talking/thinking about and/or seeing/experiencing things that remind you of the event (like going to a certain restaurant, wearing certain clothes), feeling distress when hearing about the event, negativity and hopelessness, socially distant, hyper-vigilance.

PTSD by the numbers

Why would I have PTSD?

You may have had exposure to or experienced a traumatic event such as: 

  • sexual violence
  • physical or emotional abuse 
  • serious accident
  • terrible injury
  • loss of a family member
  • persistent social and economic environmental factors, like homelessness

What’s the big deal? 

What can I do? 

  • See your doctor if you have PTSD symptoms to get assessed and treated, especially if your symptoms intensify, if you are contemplating suicide, or if you can’t get back to your daily routine. 
  • Get treatment, which may include psychotherapy, counselling, or medication.
  • Try expressing yourself through journalling, drawing, or making music.
  • Talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through, like a friend, family member, or teacher.

Need help right now: 

Kids Help Phone

Youth Space

Mind Your Mind


Cambrian College

For more information: 

Anxiety Canada

Mayo Clinic

Boston Children’s Hospital

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Sick Kids Hospital