**read with caution please**
This is something that I live with too. Some people don't think it's real because I'm not a soldier, but the truth is? You don't have to be a soldier to experience PTSD.
If you live with PTSD too you know what it's like. The flashbacks...the generalizing...
the physical symptoms...they're all real...
and they can shake us to our core.
Sometimes too we may not realize we're being triggered or even what triggered us, until after it's passed...but that doesn't change what we go through when we re-experience these symptoms.
The hardest part about this is that there are many things that can trigger us to go there again...our own thoughts...a loud noise...a certain time of day...even watching the sun set was a trigger for me and I would break at the sight. Shadows in the dark...smells...sights...even songs can be a trigger for some people living with PTSD.
While in my support group, I met a women who was in a horrific car crash and whenever she heard the song that was playing when the accident happened....she was triggered. For others...it was driving by the accident location and they were triggered...it can be anything...which makes this difficult to live with. Knowing our triggers isn't always easy though, as they can be as fluid as our thoughts can be.
To gain an understanding of PTSD, it helps if you can understand what trauma is. "Trauma refers to extreme stress that overwhelms a person's ability to cope. Trauma can take on many forms such as witnessing or experiencing a one-time accident. natural disaster, death, and violent assault or more chronic, repetitive experiences such as combat, deprivation and childhood abuse/neglect."
Now what causes PTSD? well...PTSD is an "adaption to severe trauma, which is outside the normal range of life experiences. Not everyone who is exposed to a traumatic event will develop symptoms of PTSD or complex PTSD a more chronic form of PTSD as a result of repetitive exposure to trauma)."
Why do others develop PTSD and others don't?
"It may be related to the person's previous life history and/or the amount and quality of support that was available following the trauma.
Living with PTSD is possible...it takes time and patience...it takes an understanding of what triggers us....what soothes and calms us when we're triggered...and learning new ways to cope. With help, support and understanding, we can learn to help ourselves and we can heal.
Yes...PTSD is difficult to live with at times...but there are things we can do to help ourselves and we can learn to live beyond it....here are just a few things to get you started....
- have an open conversation with the people in your life who understand... communicate openly and clearly with them...share the triggers you're aware of and let them know what you need from them when you're triggered
- identify...have...and use...positive coping skills to help bring you back safely and without causing harm to yourself or others....visualization for relaxation...meditation...calming self talk...reminding yourself you're safe...are just a few things to do...what calms you and soothes you?
- have a plan for how you will cope when you're triggered and bring along some portable items that soothe you when you're out and about...we can be triggered anywhere so we need have things with us that bring us back down safely
- keep the conversation with yourself positive...don't beat yourself up for being triggered okay? that will not help...talk to yourself lovingly and encouragingly saying what you need to hear...calming self talk is needed
If you're struggling with your PTSD...please speak to your doctor or treatment team...there is help for us and there are many resources and support groups available too...reach out to them. Your life is worth it....you're worth it...and so are the people in your life.
Please...take good care of you and each other.
the accompanying picture is taken from PTSD Break the Silence
the text in direct quotes was taken from the PTSD support group I attended at the London Heath Sciences Center (LHSC)