4. Stress

Clearly the weak link in the bunch. “Stress” as a word is at its best when describing presenting at the big work meeting, thawing a thanksgiving turkey only minutes before the guests arrive, or holding in a fart during your presentation at the big work meeting. In this setting, this poor little word is trying to represent symptoms from intense flashbacks and emotional numbness to suicidal ideation. “Stress” is out of its league here, and it knows it.

3. Disorder

“Disorder” has a lot going for it: the outbursts of emotion and memory loss of PTSD often feel like disorderly gremlins wreaking havoc on my day-to-day. That said, it loses points for controversy. Some feel that “Disorder” carries with it a stigma, and that we should replace the term with the suave “Syndrome.” Unfortunately, insurance companies won’t cover “Syndrome” (maybe they find the “m” too feminine? The jury is still out) so “Disorder” ultimately keeps its spot in the acronym.

2. Traumatic

Now we’re getting into the front runners. “Traumatic” comes in clutch validating the trauma experienced. In many ways this could be the most important word in the game; let’s be real, these other words wouldn’t make sense smashed together without “Traumatic.” Still, highlighting the traumatic event is a (necessary) double-edged sword. This word is the star of the show in a real anti-hero way. Without the trauma, there wouldn’t be a “Disorder” or “Stress”—at least not in the trauma-nightmare, erratic emotion swing sense. I might still have “work-fart” stress.

1. Post

Our winner, “Post,” seemed like a dark horse for the top word in this acronym; yet, it manages to do a lot in four letters and one unassuming syllable. “Post” reminds me that even though I might feel aftershocks of trauma intruding into my present, the traumatic event is in the past. It masterfully partners with “Traumatic”—a true Fred and Ginger pairing—to glide the focus towards healing. “Post” manages to bring a sense of space and safety, without implying that “Stress,” “Disorder,” or “Traumatic” are any less valid; it’s the ultimate support player. It’s no surprise that this word was given top billing.


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