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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Did you know that June is PTSD Awareness Month? I want to help raise awareness of the mountain that is PTSD, so I've written this blog about what it's like to live with the symptoms in daily life.

I have experienced a number of traumas at different ages and each time been left with PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD are often similar but they vary in severity with each trauma. There are definite recurring themes – there is always embarrassment, shame, loneliness, flashbacks, survivor's guilt, depression, anxiety, fear, and a huge lack of confidence in myself and my life. I have often felt worthless, making survivor's guilt even harder to overcome - why did I survive when I’m so worthless? Asking myself these daily questions causes me more fatigue than my epilepsy medication. I usually feel isolated and detached when experiencing PTSD, despite much love and support from family and friends. Each time, it has affected the people around me and impacted my family relationships. I began having non-epileptic seizures (functional neurological disorder) in 2019, which my neurologist confirmed was linked to the PTSD.

I would describe the depression I feel as part of my PTSD as feeling constantly unhappy with no hope in life. After all my traumas, I went through a very quiet time, because I couldn’t find any happiness and purpose in doing the things I normally enjoy. Even stroking a dog in the park couldn’t stop me feeling shame from the memories. I’ve taken anti-depressants on occasions. But it was really patience that helped me overcome my symptoms; I knew it would calm down in the end, so I just had to wait.

Although I still get episodes of PTSD, the symptoms do not stop me enjoying the things I do. I find happiness in nature, music, swimming and exercising, spending time with animals, volunteering, seeing friends, and of course, travel and exploring.

PTSD is certainly treatable. The healing process is ongoing and memories will not go away completely. However, I’ve found that by taking it step-by-step, the symptoms gradually become less frequent and less life-interrupting. Time really is a healer; how long ago and how fresh the memory is makes a difference. For example, I still have travel anxiety and fear of airports after my trauma in Finland which was less than a year ago, but I no longer have a fear of tents, as the rape was 15 years ago and I have had more time to process the trauma. Recovery takes time, but be patient with yourself.

I have never felt ashamed of feeling the emotions associated with PTSD – the feelings are valid and only those without empathy would believe you had no right to feel them. Overcoming PTSD is a huge mountain to climb, and I hope that by sharing my experiences I can help others know they are not alone.

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