Bliss in the Barn joins fight against PTSD

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­ Twitter: @SykesIndyNews

Post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der is cat­e­go­rized as a psy­chi­atric dis­or­der by the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric As­so­ci­a­tion and af­fects thou­sands of peo­ple across the coun­try.

But, like any other psy­chi­atric dis­or­der, there are ways to treat it and even­tu­ally beat it. Cindy Bliss, owner of Bliss in the Barn, is aiming to help vet­er­ans of war from across the state to bat­tle against it.

Af­ter re­turn­ing home from de­ploy­ments over­seas and in the bat­tle­fields, Bliss said, many sol­diers re­main af­fected by the mem­o­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences they have had over there. Bat­tle can be in­tense, she said, and their mem­o­ries can stay with them for “a while.”

The ini­tia­tive kicked off June 27, which is PTSD Aware­ness Day. The plan is to do pro­files on vet­er­ans who suf­fer from PTSD ev­ery few weeks un­til an event in Novem­ber at the Bliss barn. Bliss is part­ner­ing with Op­er­a­tion War­rior Refuge to find vet­er­ans will­ing to talk about their trou­bles with PTSD and help them open up in their pro­files and con­nect them with others who may have sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances.

“We are look­ing to speak to any­one who has a story that would ben­e­fit other peo­ple. Some­times you need to hear some­body who has been there and done that for in­spi­ra­tion,” Bliss said.

Bliss comes from a fam­ily with a mil­i­tary pres­ence and has seen loved ones bat­tle through PTSD. It is not just sol­diers, ei­ther, she said. Fam­i­lies who wait on their loved ones to come home from bat­tles suf­fer from the anx­i­ety of waiting for them to come home safely.

Julie Devine, an equine spe­cial­ist and ther­a­pist with Op­er­a­tion War­rior Refuge, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion is ex­cited to be part of such a “mean­ing­ful event.”

“A huge part of re­duc­ing the num­ber of lives PTSD claims each year is through ed­u­ca­tion,” Devine said.

Re­duc­ing the stigma sur­round­ing PTSD with ther­apy, ed­u­ca­tion and pro­vid­ing treatment can save lives, she said.

Many peo­ple do not talk about PTSD be­cause they feel it makes them “less than the next per­son,” Bliss said, when it ac­tu­ally is an in­jury just like any other. Be­cause it has to do with the brain, she said, and peo­ple can­not tan­gi­bly see any is­sues, it is con­sis­tently ig­nored. But it needs to be treated, she said.

“The men­tal part of it, you don’t know,” Bliss said. “We’re look­ing to make it real. Make it pub­lic. Peo­ple look the other way and don’t want to talk about it. I think if you make it not so ‘hush-hush’ they’ll be will­ing to talk.”

The pro­files will be writ­ten through­out the sum­mer up un­til Nov. 11. At the Bliss barn, an event will be held on Nov. 4 where vet­er­ans can come and in­ter­act with each other, play games and so­cial­ize.

The goal of the event is to de­velop a sort of “nor­malcy,” Bliss said, with the sol­diers to show them how they re­late to ev­ery­one else and es­tab­lish connections with other peo­ple.

Over­all, Bliss said, there is not much any­one can say or do to thank vet­er­ans enough for their sac­ri­fices. Pro­vid­ing them with a refuge and a place to in­ter­act is just one thing that can be done.

But, over­all, Bliss said, the goal is to save lives. It will not be enough to re­pay their ser­vice, she said, but it is “the least we can do.”

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