PTSD and Me

PTSD and Me

Tonight has been something of an odd night. It’s nice because I have a friend over and I enjoy her company, but it’s also a little rough because my anxiety is high, my depression is annoying, and I’m really feeling the effects of my PTSD. It’s something of an exhausting combination of symptoms.

This said, my wish for you tonight is comfort, and so I offer you this Lisianthus which means calm. May you find rest this day.

Let’s Talk Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

This lovely flower represents calm
This lovely flower represents calm.

Tonight, I want to talk about PTSD and anxiety some. When most people think about PTSD they think about soldiers who have seen battle or a woman who has been sexually assaulted, but the truth is that any traumatic experience can trigger this disorder.

Somebody who has survived a natural disaster can get PTSD.

Somebody who has witnessed a violent crime can get PTSD.

Somebody who has endured abuse of any kind can get PTSD.

The way that each of us is affected by trauma varies. Some can recover quickly and not suffer extreme consequences.

See, when we’re in a stressful or traumatic situation, we get into what’s called a Fight or Flight mindset. We’re either going to run from it or fight it. Normally when the traumatic event is over, the Fight or Flight mindset ends. For those with PTSD, our minds don’t leave that fight or flight when the traumatic event is over.

What Are The Symptoms of PTSD?

I can only speak for myself with any true authority, so while this list of symptoms is researched, the symptoms in bold are ones that I deal with.

·         Reliving the event

o   Flashbacks

o   Having triggers which remind you of the traumatic event

§  i.e. explosions on tv, seeing a car accident on the road, the smell of smoke

·         Nightmares

·         Avoiding situations that remind you of the event

·         Changes in how you see the world in a negative way

o   Avoiding crowds because people are scary

·         Hyperarousal

o   This has nothing to do with sex, but rather your perception.

o   Hyper startle reflex – startling easy, jumping at loud noises.

o   Difficulty sleeping

o   Difficulty concentrating

·         Hypervigilance

o   Keeping your back to the wall

·         Feeling jittery

·         Feeling irritable

As you can see, I’m very symptomatic regarding my PTSD. I deal with many of the symptoms of PTSD.

So, what brought on my own PTSD?

I can pinpoint two events which I believe caused my PTSD. The first is verbal and emotional abuse during my mid-teenage years, and the second is finding my mother dead unexpectedly. Currently, I’m not in a place where I feel ready to publicly air out either of those two events. This said, they will probably be a couple of different blog posts in the future. I can more easily talk about the abuse than I can finding Mama dead, but I’m too anxious right now to deal with the emotional fallout of either discussion.

That would be the avoidance part of the disorder.

How does PTSD feel?

It is hard to explain. It feels uncomfortable, being in a state of hyperarousal is exhausting, but your mind can’t relax. It’s like… that feeling you have after going through a Haunted House on Halloween. You’re jumping at shadows, startling at the smallest noise, and you don’t trust anyone or anything. You’re tense, and your heart is racing, and you never want to feel like this again, but instead of realizing you’re fine and it was all fake, it was all real and you still feel like you’re in that haunted house and you can’t freaking leave. You’re stuck with the ghosts of whatever trauma is haunting you.

Sometimes it likes to hit me when I’m driving. My mind will wander, I’ll zone out, and even though I’m driving, and I see the road, I’m stuck in some memory and I’ll blink and be two miles away from when I was last focused on the road. It’s a terrifying experience, because what if somebody was walking down the side of the road and I didn’t see them? What if I had drifted into the other lane? What if, what if, what if!?

PTSD feels like wondering about people’s motives, even when they’re being nice. It feels like pulling away from people because I’m so afraid of losing them. It feels like the need to hide and the need to watch everything that’s happening. It’s hiding in my house because outside is dangerous and scary.

It’s uncomfortable. It’s near constant uncomfortable. Certainly, it’s nothing somebody should aspire to have.

How Can I Support Somebody With PTSD?

First off, be patient. When symptoms flare up, there’s only so much a person with PTSD can do to calm themselves. Some people may not want to be touched, particularly if it was abuse that triggered the disorder. Let your loved one sit with their back to the wall. Let them make sure all the exits are clear. Respect their space. Do not be judgmental. If they’re having a panic attack slowly take them through an exercise like this;

Name 5 things you can see.
Name 4 things you can touch.
Name 3 things you can hear.
Name 2 things you can smell.

Engage their senses.

Or, while doing it also, direct them in a calming breathing exercise;

Inhale for 7 seconds through the nose.
Hold it for 4 seconds.
Exhale for 5 seconds through the mouth.

Breath with them the way you’re directing them.

And finally, if they need to leave. Let them. Recovery is a process and there will be ups and downs. They’ll make strides forwards, and take steps back. It’s not a perfect process and never will be.

It bears repeating: be patient.

In Conclusion

Most people, when they think about PTSD they think about soldiers who have seen war, and yes, those are probably the most common people to have this disorder. However, the truth is, anybody could be susceptible to it. It could be one car accident away, one violent partner away, one death, one hurricane, one earthquake, one… anything.


It stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not Post Battle Disorder. If it’s traumatic, it has the potential to cause this disorder.

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