POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events, it is associated with personal trauma such as violence, rape or abuse. The condition was first recognised in war veterans and has been known by a variety of names, such as 'shell shock'. 

 

 

Symptoms of PTSD

  •  Vivid flashbacks (feeling like the trauma is happening right now)

  • Intrusive thoughts and images

  • Nightmares: recurrent dreams of the event

  • Avoidance; keeping busy; avoiding reminders/stimuli connected to the event 

  • Inability to express affection; feeling detached, cut off and numb

  • Intense psychological distress or physiological activity triggered when exposed to similar events, eg anniversaries of the event, returning to the area of the event etc

  • Sleep disturbance; difficulty falling or staying asleep 

  • Irritability/aggression

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Hypervigilance - extreme alertness panic responses; easily startled

  • Physical sensations such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling

  • Self-destructive behaviour or recklessness

  • Other symptoms of anxiety

  • Using alcohol or drugs to avoid memories

  • Feeling like you can't trust anyone

  • Feeling like nowhere is safe

  • Feeling like nobody understands

  • Blaming yourself for what happened

  • Overwhelming feelings of anger, sadness, guilt or shame 

Living with PTSD

I have dealt with my traumas through CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) accompanied by seeing a psychiatrist/counsellor. However, I had never spoken about my traumatic events until I was in hospital, so i carried the weight of this with me for 11 years. CBT gave me my confidence back and made me challenge unwanted thoughts and was able to speak to others who also suffered from PTSD. Moving forward I needed to attend CBT to help squash old beliefs and behaviour patterns. Counselling was positive as it enabled me to talk everything through without judgement, and things which I thought were normal, turned out to be toxic and detrimental to my well-being. 

I still suffer from symptoms, BUT now I know to deal with them and can stop myself from falling back into dark place's quicker.

WHAT IS A FLASHBACK?

A flashback is reliving aspects of a traumatic experience/event, feeling that it is happening again. 

 

 

Images appearing in your mind/head, seeing images of what happened

Noticing sounds smells and tastes - triggers that remind you of an unpleasant experience

 

Feeling physical sensations e.g. pain/pressure

 

Overwhelming emotions that take over, making you feel like you did at that time 

 

Certain people, places and situations can trigger a flashback, so it is really beneficial to know your stressor and triggers to stop these from occurring. Sometimes they just happen out of the blue or when you're vulnerable, and it's sh** scary. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, you might also find that you have difficulty with some everyday aspects of your life, such as:

  • looking after yourself

  • holding down a job

  • maintaining friendships or relationships

  • remembering things and making decisions

  • your sex drive

  • coping with change

  • simply enjoying your leisure time.

Complex PTSD

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition where you experience some symptoms of PTSD along with some additional symptoms, such as:

  • Finding it hard controlling your emotions

  • Feeling very hostile or distrustful towards the world

  • Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness

  • Feeling as if you are damaged or worthless

  • Feeling as if you are completely different to other people (alienated)

  • Feeling like nobody can understand what happened to you

  • Avoiding friendships and relationships, or finding them very difficult

  • Often experiencing dissociative symptoms such as depersonalisation or derealisation

  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings.

How to Look After Yourself, when Struggling with PTSD

Living with PTSD is overwhelming.

Here are a few things that help me manage my PTSD.

 

1. Get to know your triggers - make a list of all the things that make you anxious or worried or have made you feel sad, down and low. (avoid triggers as much as possible) 

2. Confide in someone - talking is powerful, the more you talk the more you realise how other people have also struggled and this can be extremely comforting, talk to someone, anyone, me? Don't bottle up your emotions and feelings because it is toxic to your health.

3. Give yourself time - 'slow and steady until you are ready' Do not feel you have to rush to get better or get angry because you aren't getting better quickly, recovery takes time, time is a healer and you need time to heal. You need to make sure you are giving more time to yourself, put yourself first and do what is right for you! 

4. Try peer support - Talk to your friends and family and let them know the root cause for your PTSD. If this is too hard, at least tell them that you are struggling and in time, when you feel strong enough you will explain. Talking to close friends or family helps everyone to understand, it helps you so much to talk, and you won't realise until you have. 

5. Find specialist support - When dealing with trauma, you need to speak to a specialist so they can offer you any additional help and support, you do not have to do anything you do not want to do. But seeing a counsellor is NOT a bad thing, and it will not make you look weak. 

6. Look after your physical health - How do you expect your mind to get better if you've given up on your physical health? Ensure you are feeding your body the right nutrients it needs and drinking plenty of water/fluids. Sleep! Make sure you are getting into a good sleep routine because our brains and body repairs itself when we are sleeping. 

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