In May 2017, 22 people—as young as 8 years old—were tragically killed by a suicide bomber during an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in England. The event understandably shook the musician to her core, but she struggled in silence with her resulting mental-health issues—until now.
Grande’s just-released cover story in British Vogue—for which the artist donned a natural-leaning make-under—details that she continues to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) more than a year after the bombing. And the reason Grande hasn’t before publicly discussed the issues? She didn’t feel worthy of even having the troubling symptoms, which can include intrusive thoughts, avoidance, hyper-vigilance, and increased anxiety or depression.
“It’s hard to talk about because so many people have suffered such severe, tremendous loss. But, yeah, it’s a real thing,” she says of PTSD. “I know those families and my fans, and everyone there, experienced a tremendous amount of it as well. I feel like I shouldn’t even be talking about my own experience—like I shouldn’t even say anything. I don’t think I’ll ever know how to talk about it and not cry.”
“No one needs to add to the pain of having PTSD symptoms any judgement about whether they should or should not be suffering.” —Jennifer Griesbach, LCSW
Grande isn’t alone in struggling to get her mental health on track. In fact, many people feel guilty about their PTSD because they feel others may be suffering more, according to New York City-based therapist Jennifer Griesbach, LCSW. But she adds that the disorder can take different forms, and your struggle is justified regardless of whether you experienced a traumatic event first-hand or witnessed it from afar. “No one needs to add to the pain of having PTSD symptoms any judgment about whether they should or should not be suffering,” Griesbach tells me.
Simply put, symptoms are “an attempt to cope with an overwhelming or terrifying event,”Griesbach says. Sometimes you’ll heal on your own, but if it’s been several months—or, in Grande’s case, a year or longer—it might be time to meet with a professional who can help you feel like yourself again. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to heal and lead a life free of PTSD symptoms, and everyone who reaches out for help is modeling that for others who are suffering,” Griesbach says.
Grande might still be in pain now, but hopefully by sharing her experience, she is able to realize that she—and everyone who suffers from a mental-health condition—deserves to heal.
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