What is PTSD?


PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can be a byproduct of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event including but not limited to war, rape, violent assault/abuse, and natural disaster. PTSD can happen to anyone regardless of gender or race. 1 out of 11 people will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in their lifetime.

Someone with PTSD will continue to have difficulty dealing with the trauma long after the event has ended. They may feel intense anxiety, sadness, anger, fear or detachment from people and their surroundings for months to years after the event and often for the rest of their life.

What are the symptoms?

Hypervigilance
Anxiety in extreme cases agoraphobia
Intrusive thoughts, memories, dreams and flashbacks
Detachment/ disassociation
Depression
Mood swings
Insomnia
Reckless behavior; even what can seem like a complete change in personality/lifestyle
Elevated and/or constant stress
Angry outburst

These symptoms can cause other symptoms and health problems. Like many other illnesses, effects vary from person to person in number of symptoms and severity.

What is PTSD like for me?



On some level I have experienced all of the symptoms listed above. There are days I don’t want to get out of bed due to depression or anxiety. The world seems like a scary place. My body is consistently in a state of hypervigilance/over-awareness, this often means my fight or flight instinct is turned on and several times a day I have to talk myself down and rationalize things happening to me and around me. A noise, sudden movement, quick touch of the arm or invasion of my personal space can make me scream, cry, fight, run or go numb. I deal with flashbacks sometimes on a regular basis and sometimes less frequently. When I flashback, it can be while I am sleeping and I have a disturbing dream, the problem is this “dream” feels like real life and I relive the rape. Although the assault took place almost 9 years ago it can still feel like it happened last night and that’s because I relived it the night before. I wake up shaking or screaming while gripping my own limbs, sometimes bruises will form in the places they were after the assault. There isn’t always a reason for these flashbacks but it helps to avoid triggers. There is a constant level of anxiety and it is exhausting! I am afraid it is going to happen again, I am afraid something else traumatic will happen and most of the time I am scared to death that I will trigger in front of people. My eyes may begin to dart back and forth, my hands and body will begin to shake, I might vomit on myself. When I flashback I won’t always be aware of what is going around me because my mind has temporarily checked out. I battle with physical and mental exhaustion; sometimes operating on only a few hours of sleep for days on end. When it becomes too much, I can become dissociated, this means my mind and body is on autopilot, I can still go about my day, accomplishing all my tasks but my emotions become numb. PTSD is full of extremes, sometimes I am feeling too much sometimes I am feeling too little. At times it can feel debilitating but I have found many strategies for coping and being proactive. PTSD is not something that will go away, but it can be managed. You can still be happy and live a fulfilled life.

Comments

  1. You're so brave for sharing your story and experience. Your blog is going to help a lot of people.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Cassie! My main focus is giving a voice to those who may be too afraid to speak and letting them know they are not alone

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  2. Has someone with PTSD ever been misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder? I was diagnosed with the latter but I feel like your experience is more like what I'm going through...

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    Replies
    1. Yes! Especially if you did not disclose the trauma. PTSD can bring major mood swings that can be diagnosed as bipolar. Usually keywords such as trauma and flashbacks will prompt the doctor to diagnose you with PTSD. Another common misdiagnosis is depression and anxiety which can be symptoms of PTSD

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