**Listener Note** This episode contains a discussion of traumatic events. If you believe you are experiencing PTSD, please consult with your doctor or a mental health professional. If you are having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 6 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD in their lifetime and the number of women impacted is higher than that of men by 50%.
The effects of trauma can be debilitating and may lead to symptoms like to self-destructive behavior, severe emotional distress, excessive drinking or use of addictive substances, angry outbursts and feeling detached from family and friends.
Our guest for Episode 34 is Kayla Bergeron, who worked as the Director of Public Affairs for The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on September 11, 2001. Kayla narrowly escaped the collapse of the North Tower down the only passable stairwell. During the immediate aftermath, Kayla was tasked with setting up systems to communicate with the families of people who were alive, missing and deceased and she did this with the help of PIO’s (Public Information Officers – individuals responsible for communicating with the public and the media with incident related information) until the Human Resources team could respond.
Seventeen years and 2 DUI’s later, Kayla was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and found sobriety. Today she works in the recovery field, is a presenter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, sharing about her 9/11 experience and recovery journey and is a mental health advocate for ending the stigma of addiction and mental health.