It’s been almost four years since I wrote a short blog post for Project Sanctuary titled “Living With PTSD”. Having recently been asked to submit another post I thought it would be fitting to do a follow-up to that one. After all, for the most part, those of us that have PTSD are stuck with it for life. Here are a few things I’ve learned in the last few years dealing with my PTSD.
Sure, it gets better. It becomes manageable. There are periods that I go days or even weeks without experiencing any serious symptoms of my PTSD. But it’s still there, mostly now with the sleep and dream issues I still deal with regularly. And a really bad night’s sleep can make the next day worse, which can turn into a downward spiral, and BAM!, there it is, PTSD takes over for a moment. Or a few hours. Or longer. It happened to me a few weeks ago.
Those things are going to happen from time to time. It’s how we prepare and deal with our PTSD moments that can make a difference. Yes, I said prepare. It’s a good idea to be aware that you might end up in a situation that can trigger you. Recognizing your symptoms as they happen can be very helpful in managing a bad moment. Situational awareness. Know your surroundings. Have a plan.
If you’re in a rut, admit it. Admit it to yourself first and then to those around you. I know that’s helped me. And you might be surprised by the support you get. Ask yourself what you can do to get through it. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do except acknowledge that we are experiencing depression or anxiety or any of the other issues that come with PTSD. But keep moving forward. There is an obvious negative connotation when it is said that someone is “just going through the motions.” One thing I’ve learned the last few years is that going through the motions is far better than quitting. Do what you need to get through it, even if you have to only go through the motions for a while. There’s no shame in surviving, whatever it takes to get there.
Know when to remove yourself from a situation. For those of us who went to war, we know that was rarely an option at the time. But you can now in many cases. It’s ok to walk away. It’s alright to take a break. It’s perfectly fine to distance yourself from people or situations that are unhealthy for you. Do things that are good for you and helpful to your mental health. Make yourself a priority and never feel bad about putting yourself first when you need to.
Lastly, and most important, don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. ASK FOR HELP. I cannot repeat that enough. It might be the most uncomfortable thing you ever do. You may be embarrassed. You might feel weak or scared or worthless. I assure you; those are normal emotions when you are at rock bottom and think you have no place to turn. Those feelings will pass. Please don’t let fear keep you from reaching out for help. Don’t let the stigma of needing help stop you from taking care of yourself. The people that rely on you need you to be mentally healthy. Do it for them.
It all takes time. But you can and will make it to a comfortable place living with your PTSD. Just keep moving forward and being aware of your mental health.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by today. Good day, God bless.
Written by guest blogger David George, a retired Army Reserve chaplain assistant who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. David is a survivor of attempted suicide and lives with PTSD. More of his works can be found athttps://storyofmylife.blog.