Dealing With PTSD
Updated: Aug 3, 2022
I have had to deal with PTSD alongside my mental illness. I found that working through it was like hiking, or climbing a big mountain. The way up is tough and I'm hardly noticing the scenery. Getting to the top makes me feel accomplished and I can appreciate and enjoy the summit. Going down is easier and I can feel better.
I was sexually assaulted at the age of sixteen. I didn't tell a soul until I was in my early forties. I was ashamed and scared. Looking back I can recognize that after that trauma I experienced my first manic episode. Unbeknownst to me, I was experiencing the symptoms of PTSD for years. I went through a program of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and during the six-month course of therapy, it came to light that I was suffering from PTSD and I was placed in a trauma group. There were a few of us members in the group and everyone had a different traumatic experience that they were working through. One was childhood sexual abuse, one was childhood physical abuse, and one was a victim of gun violence. Although all of us experienced different traumas, our symptoms were the same. Everyone shared their experiences over time and together in that safe place we climbed the mountain, faced our fears, worked through the shame and sadness, and learned new behaviors to get beyond the different situations.
Symptoms of PTSD
Being easily startled or frightened.
Always being on guard for danger.
Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast.
Irritability, angry outbursts. or aggressive behavior.
Overwhelming guilt or shame,
A life-threatening event. This includes a perceived-to-be life-threatening event. Whether or not it actually is, it's really about the perception of the person who experienced or witnessed the event that it could happen to them again.
Internal reminders of a traumatic event. These signs of trauma typically present as nightmares or flashbacks. It's important to realize that these are not simply memories. They are unwanted, intrusive episodes in which a person feels as though they are in the life-threatening situation again - like they're watching a movie associated with or seeing it unfold in front of them. It feels very real to them.
Avoidance of external reminders. Those with PTSD often do whatever they can to not think about their traumatic event, to suppress the feelings associated with it.
Altered anxiety state. PTSD can leave people feeling on edge and looking for danger (hypervigilance). Increased anxiety and the need to be aware of possible threats.
Changes in mood or thinking. People with PTSD can see the world as a very dangerous place and it can lead to isolation, depression, and risky behaviors.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Trauma Groups can help tremendously. And DBT helped me on the road to recovery as well
Support for PTSD
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 800-950-6264
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 800-662-4357
- Mentalhealth.gov 877-726-4727
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) 866-615-6464
- Vets4Warriors 855-838-8255
Take good care,
"We can become anybody.....nothing forces us to remain what we are."
-- John Berger