What is it like to live with PTSD?
Living with PTSD means living in a constant state of fear. Feeling overwhelmed is common. It’s like no matter how happy you appear on the outside or try to convince yourself that you are, there’s something really sad and negative hiding just below the surface. People living with PTSD often blame themselves for the trauma they experienced or berate themselves for not being able to “get over” the trauma. They may ask themselves, “Why can’t they just move on? Why can’t I just forget the trauma?” Sometimes the future seems hopeless. A person with PTSD may feel like it’s a challenge just to get out of bed in the morning.
What are the symptoms of PTSD?
According to the DSM 5 (the main tool mental health professionals use to “diagnosis” or categorize mental health concerns), PTSD symptoms include some or all of the following:
- Thinking of the distressing event over and over (recurrent, involuntary and intrusive distressing memories)
- Nightmares (recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/or affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s)”
- Having moments where you feel like you are experiencing the trauma all over again (We call these flashbacks and the DSM refers to these as dissociative reactions in which you feel or act as if the traumatic even(s) were recurring)
- Feeling “triggered” or upset by things that remind you of the trauma – this may include physical reactions such as sweating or a racing heart.
- Avoiding things that remind you of the traumatic event. This may mean that you try to avoid thinking of the traumatic event or that you avoid external reminders such as people, places, objects that remind you of the trauma.
- Frequent negative moods such as feeling fear, anger, guilt or shame
- Negative thoughts or cognitions related to the event-often this includes feeling guilty or thinking the trauma was your fault, worrying you’ll never “get over” the trauma or worrying it will happen again
- Having difficulty remembering important parts of the traumatic event(s)
- Negative beliefs about yourself or the world
- Less interest in things you used to enjoy
- Hypervigilance or feeling “on edge” all the time
- Difficulty focusing
- Irritability and angry outbursts
- Reckless or self-destructive behavior
- Difficulty with sleeping (either falling asleep or staying asleep)
So why can’t I just move on from the trauma?
This is a common question and the answer is complex. Maybe you didn’t have a lot of coping skills before the event happened. Or maybe the traumatic event was so severe that it left you questioning everything you’ve ever thought about the world. You believed people were generally good and then someone raped you, how can that make sense? Trauma is complicated and PTSD symptoms can literally impact every area of a person’s life. Moving on is not easy and it requires a great of effort…effort that’s hard to muster when you’re constantly feeling drained from all of the hypervigilence and emotional toll of trauma flashbacks!
The bottom line is that living with PTSD is difficult at best. PTSD symptoms may hold you back from living life to the fullest, accomplishing your goals and following your dreams. At worst, the symptoms can take over your life.
The good news: PTSD Treatment Works
My opinion is that nobody should have to live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You shouldn’t have to spend years feeling miserable. Even counseling shouldn’t take years to help you find relief. Research has shown that people can get better from PTSD in a matter of months, and in some cases people even begin noticing improvement in weeks. You’ve felt stuck long enough. There is hope. You deserve healing.
Aspire Counseling is the premier place to find quality PTSD treatment in Columbia, MO. We offer several different types of counseling for trauma and these treatments have been shown to be very, very effective. Our intake coordinator or our director would be happy to talk to you about which Aspire Counseling therapist would be the best fit for you if you reach out and contact Aspire Counseling today by e-mail or by calling 573-328-2288. You don’t have to keep suffering. It’s ok to hope for a better future, because we’ve seen people find peace and begin to enjoy life again. Call us today, because healing starts here.
Jessica Tappana is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Founder of Aspire Counseling, a Counseling Center in Columbia, MO. She specializes in treating PTSD, Anxiety and college students who are struggling to find their way. She has a special heart for helping survivors of sexual violence including sexual assault, rape and molestation. Jessica is passionate about providing a counseling center where the therapist both make the therapeutic relationship a top priority as well as provide evidence based treatments. Jessica is constantly seeking out new trainings and reading the latest research about what treatments work with the populations Aspire Counseling serves to provide the very best treatment that will help clients find healing, peace and happiness in their lives.