If you’re anything like me, when you hear the term ‘PTSD’ you automatically think of soldiers who have returned home following horrific conflict in war zones. When I started to read about it however, I began to realise how much of it is true for my state of mind.
For starters, the definition of PTSD: A delayed response to the experience of a highly traumatic event which has threatened your safety. The event may have been uncontrollable, made you feel helpless and left you feeling wracked with guilt.
Well I can honestly say that when I was attacked I’ve never felt more helpless in my entire life. Whilst what happened is now quite blurry in my mind, the way it made me feel is still very present. For a short amount of time, someone else was in control of me. Then there’s the guilt. Because I can’t help but feel guilty about what happened, like I deserved it and that I don’t deserve to feel bad about what happened because there are others in the world who have gone through far worse than I have. I can’t shake the feeling that, by comparison, I should be able to shake off what happened and carry on with my life as normal.
Next, the symptoms of PTSD:
Disturbed sleep? Check.
Intrusive thoughts? Check.
Feeling numb and detached? Check.
Keeping busy? It varies, but check.
Guilt? Hopelessness? Shame? Check. Check. Check.
Finding it hard to trust others? Check.
The list goes on, and it wasn’t until I stumbled upon Blurt that I realised what was going on in my head wasn’t just depression. Depression is also a part of PTSD I have learnt, which is why it’s so difficult for me to be able to know how long depression has been a part of my life as the signs were beginning to emerge before I was attacked so I passed off the way I felt afterwards as this continued depression rather than the start of PTSD. I’m beginning to realise just how complex our mental health is. So much of it overlaps that giving a name to what’s going on in your mind can be tricky. So much is co-morbid. Just look at PTSD and depression, where one mental health issue in itself is a symptom of another mental health issue.
There’s still a sense that I don’t ‘deserve’ to be able to use the term PTSD, that it should be reserved for those who have been through the worst of the worst. It’s far easier for me to say to someone that I have depression than it is to say I have PTSD, probably because I’m still getting used to using the term myself. However, there’s a part of me that hopes one day it will become easier to talk about, much like is now the case with anxiety and depression.
I think it’s a safe bet to say I will never have a life free of PTSD, but I do hope that one day soon I will be able to have a life in spite of PTSD.