More on PTSD
It is difficult to live with the symptoms of PTSD, but even more so when you suffer from a complex form of the illness as I do. Everything seems to be more complicated and scary. Fear is a very real component of this illness. Facing your fears takes courage and though many have called me brave or courageous, there are some fears I don’t want to face. There are no small steps in the recovery process. You have to battle negative thoughts, low self-esteem, feeling worthless. You have to learn to love yourself.
Often symptoms of PTSD can look like depression to the untrained eye. Things like a loss of interest in activities that used to interest you; tiredness; bad food choices, inability to concentrate for long to name a few. The simple truth is that a sufferer pours all their energy into making it through the day intact. At times death is an attractive alternative to the daily battle which may be the reason many sufferers are treated with anti-depression meds. For some of us, though, those meds do not work and may, in fact, make us worse as I experienced a few weeks ago.
I recently went through a process of making sure all my affairs were in order – writing a will, updating the beneficiaries on my insurance etc. It was a scary place to be in knowing that there was little left to keep me here. Thank goodness for a therapist that could talk me down off the ledge and show me a glimmer of hope, give me some perspective. A couple days later, a friend mentioned to me what a gap I would leave in the life of her family. I never realised she felt that way and it helped to pull me further back from the edge.
As I work through the events that caused my PTSD to begin with, it can be like walking through a minefield of emotions. All the suppressed thoughts, feelings, etc. that could not processed at the time, for one reason or another, come flooding to the surface and it can be quite overwhelming. I have personally experienced moments of intense rage, despair, fear, incredible grief and loss to name a few. The other day I was sitting watching a game of rugby and tears just started falling for no apparent reason. I did what I always seem to do and used a distraction to avoid them.
Just maybe, having shoved all the emotion, memories and fear deep inside is what has brought to the point where I suffer with PTSD. Perhaps it is now time to let the tears flow, experience the painful emotions I have been avoiding for so long.
I quoted my friend before when she said “healing is the by product of a process of moving through a traumatic experience, going from survival mode to thriving mode, that it can happen when we gently and respectfully make space for traumatic events, weaving them into the overall fabric of our unique life experience, honouring them by acknowledging the impact they have on us as part of a complex tapestry without allowing those events to wholly define us”
Trouble is, I am not sure I know how to make this space. I know I am who I am in part because of what I have experienced. I am in the process of acknowledging the impact trauma has had on my life because realistically I can’t deny it any longer. I have started journaling at the end of the day as a way of debriefing. When I feel the tears coming, I take a shower and let them mingle with the water. Little by little, one tiny step at a time, I am moving along the road of recovery. Some days it feels like I am going backwards but I press on. I am a survivor after all.