The last three months were a challenge to me. And it doesn’t look like it’ll stop soon.
Old wounds ripped up, old pain butted its head and I tried my best to welcome it like an old, long lost friend… It’s an understatement, if I’d say that it’s easy.
I had some years in mindful and buddhist training; so I observe. I learn, about me, my situation, my hidden puppet strings, the booby traps I set for myself, and how others are capable of manipulating me.
My past isn’t pretty. I’ll leave it at that. But I’ll never move forward, if I back down.
My psychological strength isn’t what it used to be too, I guess there aren’t any reserves left. I jump at the smallest, unexpected noise. I cry at the news (which is very unusual for me- been called “Iceberg” before) and stopped watching TV and read the newspapers. I do the same with pictures of disasters, personal and global… My emotions and feelings overwhelm me, and I seize to function.
The part of acknowledging it, is the respect, the knowledge and the intro-/retrospection I need to practice. Mindfulness, first of all. The other part of the equation is the realization how much it changed me, my personality.
Drop by drop, it hollowed me out.
So here you go, for all who need this (fellow writers, you can use this for character development):
Symptoms of PTSD
There are six types of PTSD symptoms:
- 1. Reliving the event (also called re-experiencing symptoms): Memories of the traumatic event can come back at any time.
- You may have nightmares and sleeping problems.
- You may feel like you are going through the event again. This is called a flashback. -> COPING WITH FLASHBACKS
- You may see, hear, or smell something that causes you to relive the event. This is called a trigger. News reports, seeing an accident, or hearing a car backfire are examples of triggers.
- You may re-experience the bodily symptoms, chronic pain or have intruding thoughts.
- 2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event: You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the traumatic event.You may even avoid talking or thinking about the event; avoid crowds, because they feel dangerous; avoid situations, that resemble the traumatic one. You may keep very busy or avoid seeking help because it keeps you from having to think or talk about the event.
- 3. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: The way you think about yourself and others changes because of the trauma. This symptom has many aspects, including the following:
- You may not have positive or loving feelings toward other people (society in general) and may stay away from relationships.
- You may forget about parts of the traumatic event or not be able to talk about them.
- You may think the world is completely dangerous, and no one can be trusted.
- 4. Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal): You may be jittery, or always alert and on the lookout for danger. You might suddenly become angry or irritable. This is known as hyperarousal. For example:
- You may have trouble concentrating.
- You may be startled by a loud noise or surprise.
- You might want to have your back to a wall in a restaurant or waiting room. Security and the need for control gain importance.
- 5. Feeling of distance and numbness (Depersonalization, Derealization): You may feel a certain kind of emotional numbness, or being on “auto-pilot”. Typically, people talk about watching themselves remotely, doing something, not being able to intervene.
- You might not be able to connect with your friends and family. You might have trouble with finding your place in your life.
- You may feel stuck in a perpetual loop of fear and sadness.
- You may feel that you only function. You’re on auto-pilot.
- You may experience a distorted sense of shame and guilt.
- Your hobbies become a nuisance. You might have a severely reduced interest in pre-traumatic activities.
- 6. Alteration of memory, mood and concentration, depression: feeling of fear, agitation, shame, guilt, devastation, feeling of meaninglessness. You may feel irritable for no reason at all. You may develop a deep feeling of mistrust, up to paranoia.
Following trauma, it is normal to experience the range of symptoms typical of PTSD. However, when these symptoms persist longer than 3 months, they are considered part of the syndrome of posttraumatic stress disorder.
In some cases, however, symptoms may take a long time to appear. Delayed PTSD is often typical in cases of childhood sexual or physical abuse and trauma. Symptoms can be hidden by emotional constriction or dissociation and then suddenly appear following a major life event, stressor, or an accumulation of stressors with time that challenge the person’s defenses.
Risk factors for PTSD include lack of social support, lack of public acknowledgment or validation of what happened, vulnerability from previous trauma, interpersonal violation (especially by trusted others), coping by avoiding — including avoiding feeling or showing feelings (seeing feelings as a weakness), actual or symbolic loss — of previously held beliefs, illusions, relationships, innocence, identity, honor, pride.
If you recognized yourself in the symptoms, what’s next?
Seek help! Go to your family doctor, or a specialist. Psychotherapy is most important! This is a treatable condition.
Don’t wait for over two decades, like I did. PTSD changes you, it changed me. I’m a different person now, and I only resemble myself rudimentary. I’m not the best version of myself anymore.
Maybe I never was…
- build up resilience
- seek a healthy relation to danger and security
- build up self esteem
- find new meaning and purpose in your life
- if necessary, take prescribed medication (it’s only for some months, not forever)
Something interesting I just found: COMPLEX PTSD
Below the “Continue Reading Tag” is an article about the cumulative effect of traumata. Continue reading “PTSD, or meeting a long-lost friend”