I haven’t written for Broke Girl in the City these past couple of weeks. Not only have I been working on a series of events, which has taken up all of my time. I realised I needed to take a little time out to grieve too. Stress + overworking + grief are not a winning combination, which I recently found out.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
I have been diagnosed with complex PTSD. There I said it. Many people have spoken out about PTSD in the press, including Lady Gaga, Keira Knightley and Ariana Grande. Yet, there is still a stigma attached to discussing mental health. Even though MIND has published figures saying that 1 in 4 of us experience a mental health problem each year. Wondering whether this was actually too personal to share. I realised that since so many other people are suffering from PTSD, I would touch upon this in my blog.
We don’t have a lot of time to waste
Somehow we gotta find a way – Mac miller
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety order which follows a traumatic event. Complex PTSD is triggered by a series of traumatic events. Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD as it is most commonly termed, has often been associated with soldiers who have experienced horrors in war. Not everyone will develop this however. Many people will suffer a distressing or frightening event, and yet recover. However sometimes, people develop PTSD following a traumatic event, such as a relationship breakdown, job loss or death of a loved one, which can have a significant impact on their day-to-day life.
- Reliving the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks
- Feelings of isolation and withdrawing
- Brain fog and memory loss
- Irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, depression
- Hyperacusis (reduced tolerance to noise)
- Teary and over-reacting to situations
- Feeling suicidal
- Self harm
- Self destructive activities
- Abusing alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex
Finding ways to cope
I found a therapist this year who has been just amazing. I can tell her anything and she understands everything about PTSD. For years I have suffered from anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia, but she has been the first person who has looked at PTSD with me. Don’t be afraid to seek out professional help to cope. You don’t have to do this alone.
Sleeping tablets such as Zopiclone have been crucial in the past to restore my sleep patterns. However, having been to the doctors to source a new supply of Zopiclone when my recent bout of insomnia hit. I was physically sick the next morning having had a single glass of wine the night before. Seriously when drugs like this say not to mix with alcohol, they really mean it. I am also really foggy headed first thing in the morning after taking them. Some of my friends have recently recommended Melatonin, which I am going to try.
Drinking and having fun may seem a quick fix and a way to anaesthetise the pain, but unfortunately as we all know, it is not a great way of helping manage your emotions. So I am doing lots of other positive things with my time. Spending time with friends. Taking photos. Writing. Not that I seem to be able to drink much anymore!
Self Care OK. So working 12 days without a break hasn’t been a great way of looking after myself. However this weekend, I am chilling. Eating well. Hanging out with friends. Not drinking. Treating myself to a hair cut. It’s pampering time!
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) Through carefully guided therapy, we can learn to focus on internal memories and external stimuli, creating new positive associations. Sounds good to me. Something on the roadmap for this year!
Support groups. Whether this is family, friends or a support group with people who you don’t even know. Find your own support system. Facebook groups are a great way to meet like-minded people and charities such as MIND share lots of information to help.
How to support someone
I read this amazing article on the BBC website. Christine Welten posted on Reddit about how much she appreciated her husband telling her it was OK to wake him up for cuddles, saying, “I actually initially created my post more to highlight my husband’s amazing nature, than my battle with PTSD. If someone is having nightmares, support them.”
If you are in a relationship with someone who is suffering from PTSD, you may feel that your partner is withdrawing, isolating themselves, seeming negative and insecure. However with patience and the right support, you can move forwards together positively as a couple. Be mindful of the fact your partner may share sensitive information with you and that sometimes they may feel triggered by certain things from time to time.
Please don’t ignore other people who you can see are visibly struggling. I received a lovely late night message the other night from the Whitmore. It meant the world to me. The nights I can’t sleep I sometimes chat to my friend Emma in the US on Facebook. To all of my friends who have been reaching out to me these past few months. Asking how I am. To my lovely friend Rhiannon who has been looking after me. To Amber for sending me endless messages to check in on how I am. I thank you.
Best Day Ever – Mac Miller
My go-to-song of the moment. Ever since Alex from the company Social Chain posted this on Linkedin following the death of Mac Miller, I have been playing it on repeat! Might seem a strange song to add to a feature on PTSD but music is always a source of happiness for me. Totally sad the world has lost an absolute music genius, but I wanted to leave you with this song. However bleak things may seem for anyone else suffering, the world is and can be an amazing place. Don’t let PTSD define you. We’ve got this 🙂