I recently received a message from a dear friend and follower, and after a lot of personal reflection, I feel it is in the best interest for all of us during this Fourth of July season to share it, with permission, of course.

Last night, upon hearing constant fireworks in our area and needing to take my dogs upstairs to an area that would shield them from the sounds, it made me realize that I too became jumpy and uneasy with these loud noises.

There are many people who suffer with PTSD-post traumatic stress disorder, that have not served in war, but still have “triggers” nonetheless, especially at this time of year. When you think of the way we celebrate Independence Day such as fireworks, loud noises from firecrackers and seeing the beautiful mix of color in the sky from these explosions, happy memories often come to mind. However, to others, all those sounds can bring back painful memories of combat, a mass shooting or even the painful memory of losing someone to gun violence. Many types of jarring noises or events can literally replay moments and memories that have been suppressed for years.

I ask that you put this story in the back of your mind if you are doing to someone something that is “just in fun.” To you or people watching it may just be fun, but not to everyone. Here is a first hand example:

“Good Afternoon Donna, I have an idea of a facebook post/blog. It involves helping people to be aware that not everyone reacts to ‘pranks’ as you think they do. Here is why.

I recently was the recipient of someone sneaking up behind me and getting close to my ear and saying “Hello!” With that simple action I jumped and, with clenched fists, swore at this person a string of obscenities, well deserved, in my opinion. This was in a group of people and I was mortified as they all laughed and thought it was hilarious. What NO ONE understood is that I was “triggered” by this and it is still effecting me today. This person thought I was an easy target after that and continued doing this to me several times in a week. The last time it happened, my reaction was so severe that I said if it was ever done to me again, I would kindly punch him in the face (this is not who I am but I was furious).

When it happened I felt my heart pounding and tears welled up in my eyes. I did not want to explain to him—nor SHOULD I HAVE TO—that I was attacked from behind and raped as a 22 year old girl. I did not need or want everyone to know about my trauma.

Donna, I honestly thought I had moved so far beyond these triggered memories but this incident brought it all back to the front of my mind…A few days later I nearly jumped out of my chair because a leaf dropped off our awning beside me. I’m now jumpy and on edge all the time.”

This heartbreaking story shows how easy a simple thing like sneaking up on someone from behind, tossing a firecracker near their feet or playing simple mind games can make a person who has been through a traumatic event suffer repercussions and painful memories. It happens all because you have no idea what their past pain involves.

I am so honored and grateful this beautiful woman shared her personal story with me and has allowed me to share it with you. It must have been so difficult to put in writing what happened to her after 22 years, but I know her recent experience will help save others from going through a painful and traumatic moment because someone decided to rethink a “prank” and knows it may not be worth the laugh.

As my friend says, “You just don’t know what someone has been through- so please be kind and considerate.”