Trauma Survivors Talk About Living With PTSD

My healing journey began 18 years ago with PTSD. After another more recent trauma, I found myself facing a different kind of PTSD. Therefore, some of the things that worked before were no longer helping. I had new symptoms to cope that were not familiar. I was my own advocate, doing research and discovering skills through trial and error. After having some difficulty making progress with other therapists, I began working with a trauma expert. With this synergy, I was able to get on track.

I can’t stress enough, the importance of giving myself credit for my healing. Realizing that it was my journey and ultimately, I only had myself to rely on to get through. I congratulate myself for not giving up and realizing that I am worth the fight and the effort and the continued work that I must do to stay healthy.

The following coping skills are my top ten:

  1. Giving myself permission. (To feel, to make a mistake, to take a break, etc.)
  2. Exercise
  3. Staying organized
  4. Self-care rituals such as aromatherapy in the shower
  5. Maintaining healthy boundaries
  6. Avoiding toxic people and situations
  7. Gaining support from therapy and other survivors, and then giving back
  8. Nature (I hike, trail run and garden)
  9. Have a plan in place to make me feel safe
  10. I put myself in a time out when I might want to react as if a tiger is after me, when it really isn’t.

I wanted to say a bit about how PTSD has affected my relationship with myself: There’s a concept called Trauma Re-enactment (Dusty Miller coined the phrase). For many years, I assumed the role of abuser with myself because I engaged in self-injury. I injured myself as a form of punishment and as a way to escape body memories. I started this as a sophomore in college but haven’t engaged in it for many years. Overeating was also (is also) a way that I dealt with childhood troubles. So, PTSD impacted my self-care, my self-image and self-esteem. Shame used to fill me to my core.

After many years of therapy, I have grown to love myself and to embrace that little girl part of me that was traumatized. I have provided that part of me with the protection, validation, comfort and care that my parents weren’t able to. I hate the scars on my arms and find it hard each season when it’s time to wear short sleeves. What if someone notices? What helps is when I remind myself that, at the very moment I opted to self-injure, I truly believed I had no other choice. In some instances I truly believed I was engaging in self-care because I was trying to ease pain.

I believe I disconnected from my body as a child to survive. I am grateful that I have been able to move back into my body. I’ve taken it back after it was broken into. It’s nice to be home….

Peace to you all, PJ

How PTSD affects my relationship with my husband.

Well naturally he doesn’t understand when I go into what he calls my “scared place”. I think he feels bad when he knows I’m acting timid with him, like I’m afraid I’ll do something wrong. I’ve lived that way so long, for most of my life, and it’s so easy to fall back into that pattern because my emotions take me there without my permission. The last couple of times he has not reacted with his characteristic patience, but has seemed a bit peeved about it. That scared me, because I don’t want my pain to push him away from me. I’m going to have to talk about that with him, and tell him the best thing he can do is give me a hug. Usually I fall into that place with him when he is quiet and brooding. My ex used to get like that and it usually meant a bad storm was coming my way, with lots of thunder and lightning. And so when he gets quiet my emotions lead me astray and for a moment I get those same feelings I had with my ex. I start walking on eggs as a preparation for the coming angry outburst that I’ve never seen out of my angel husband. I’m trying to ignore it when he gets quiet and brooding. I’m trying to just go get busy doing something to take my mind off of it. After all, he’s his own person and he has a right to his own quiet time and his own thoughts. And if he’s pondering a problem and trying to work something out in his mind, I don’t want to make it about me and cause him to have to comfort me when he should be concentrating on himself.

Otherwise, with other people, I think the PTSD has made me very sensitive to the needs of those around me. Sometimes perfect strangers are hurting and I pick up on it and I ask them if I can give them a hug and it really seems to lift their spirits and give them hope.

So there’s kind of a double whammy there. On one hand I weave a web of protection around my self, grow quiet, and go where no one can hurt me, inside myself. And on the other side, I open up and am more friendly with people and want to reach out to others.

Trauma Survivors Network

Serenity Prayer Image
Control is an illusion but I do have choices. I have the choice of how I react, how I choose to think about something, the choice to forgive myself or others. I have the choice to hold onto bad feelings/thoughts or work to let them go. I have the choice to just let my feelings be and accept that sometimes life sucks…not just for me but everybody. My therapist points out that sometimes people just have a bad day, a bad week…it happens. it is my choice to see everything as a symptom of depression/PTSD or allow myself to believe that sometimes bad feelings exist, bad things happen and they can pass. Even triggers/flashbacks, while not controllable, allow me to make the choice to try to figure out the best way to deal with them. My choices aren’t always good ones, my thoughts are not always happy ones but I have the choice to believe that a higher power guides me and loves me. The choice to turn the overwhelming over to my higher power. I say the “Serenity Prayer” every day. I use it to guide me. And it does help me to see that I do not have the power to control. I have the power to accept and to change what I can…me. Letting go of the illusion of control frees me to enjoy my life more, to learn who I am. It frees up the energy I spend trying to control the world and spend that energy on me. Choice is a moment by moment experience.

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Perhaps because of my fair skin and poor circulation problems, I have always found excessive cold or heat to be uncomfortable and, as such, always look forward to the arrival of autumn and spring, my favorite times of year.

I think it has been both a curse and blessing in my life that I spent my late teens and twenties as a bit of a gypsy…. living in places throughout Southern California, Washington state, and Alaska… I am currently 35 yrs. old and have lived in nearly fifty places and twenty different cities in three states!

I think my wanderings have led me to create set traditions during different times of the year in an effort to help me feel grounded and secure and to help me focus on what is positive instead of negative. For example, where I currently live in the foothills of the Cajon Pass, spring = harsh, destrutive winds. I love a nice breeze but the winds where I currently live often rip my garden to shreds, flip over my backyard furniture, and send trash cans flying down the street. This frustrates me to no end… but having spring rituals and routines helps me to focus on what really matters in life instead of things like harsh winds that are out of my control.

The arrival of spring means I set up a month of deep spring cleaning and organizing regardless of where I live. It is also a time where, prior to my PTSD, I find an organization or cause I can give to and/or volunteer for… which helps me to feel that the slow pace I keep in winter has come to an end. In the spring, I also always make a point to spend active time in the natural surroundings that are adjacent to where I live.. such as bike riding at the beach, hiking in the mountains, investigating the desert, riding my jet ski and swimming at nearby lakes, or seeking out natural hot springs that are abundant in the foothills and deserts nearby. Engaging in these activities helps me to not only feel grounded and safe in my own skin but also fosters in me a deep appreciation and awe for the beautiful world that God has created and allowed me to experience and enjoy.


Spring in Chicago means new beginnings, the birds chirping and building nests, the crocuses poking up out of the ground and the weather going back and forth between sun and new warmth and a little more cold and snow.

My feelings are similar these days, like I am making new beginnings yet going back and forth between the new and the old in my behaviors. I find myself initiating more especially online where I am posting new thoughts on sites and in groups I belong to, making new threads instead of always replying to the thoughts of others in old threads.

This has felt a little scary and new for me, something I was discouraged from doing in the past, a lesson I learned all too well. and my feelings have been, like our weather going back and forth from encouragement and eagerness to face the new and reluctance and fear from the old. I find myself hating me at times and turning my back on myself just as my mother turned her back on me when I was in pain.

But after talking it over with a good friend and crying about it a little I have resolved that I can turn towards myself instead and comfort myself when I am in pain. Acknowledging that the hate is sometimes still there and accepting those feelings, becoming more aware and then noticing the changes. All part of new beginnings like the spring, even when the old winter feelings come along at times.

So I continue with my new beginnings like the spring continues to manifest itself here, and I am grateful for the changes. Life can be beautiful like the weather, ever changing and progressing towards the warmth.


Leaves falling have always struck me. My association of leaves ‘falling’ is to the Bible a term used at Genesis 6:4 where it mentions the “Nephilim.” The Nephilim is translated to: Fellers. Fellers meaning: “Those who cause others to fall down.” The type of “falling down” has the notion that once they were caused to fall down, they could not get back up = they had caused someone to die. I have always looked at fallen leaves and it brought home to me the impact of the Nephilim = once a leaf has fallen, it can not get back up and re-attach itself to the tree = in affect by falling means it is dying; no longer getting any life sustaining nutrition from the tree = a leaf’s falling means certain death for the once beautiful green leaf that had been so full of life.

I had researched the Nephilim further. Some Bible commentators feel that this Bible term refers to “Nephilim had fallen from heaven, that is, that they were ‘fallen angels’ who had mated with women to produce “mighty ones…. the men of fame.” [Which Greek mythology is based on them, like Hercules, etc.] However, other scholars favor that the Nephilim = “the mighty ones” were in fact the unauthorized hybrid son created by the mating of materialized angels and women = they did not survive the Flood.

Until they were destroyed at the Flood these Nephilim were bullies, tyrants, fearful demigods, simply evil and wicked roaming on the earth, doing anything that they pleased since they were superhuman = causing harm or others to “fall” to the point that they could not get up because they had been killed by a Nephilim.

Leaves’ falling to the ground isn’t really a negative thought to me. It simply is a reminder to me = a connection for me and my PTSD = that in this modern day, there are people who fit the description of Nephilim = people who inflict so much harm, including emotional, mental anguish to the point that they feel that they had died. Falling leaves is a reminder to me that there are dangerous people out there = it is important to me to always feel connected to a figurative tree = staying attached to life; constantly on the watch for dangerous people.

I was having a lot of difficulty with PTSD, depression and anxiety. Everything was hitting me at once. I had already been to two other psychiatric hospitals that month, and both had discharged me even though I still felt scared, alone, and unready to deal with the stressors of everyday life. That’s when I found out about the Psychiatric Institute of Washington and The Center. The Center is an acute care facility that specializes in helping people with PTSD. It is one of only four places in the nation with that specialty. The average length of stay is about 10-12 days but they had people stay longer depending on the situation. My health insurance company paid for my stay.

When I got to The Center I was interviewed about my experiences that led to the PTSD, after checking in I was shown to my room. I loved that The Center is not like your typical psych ward….they don’t place restrictions on having shoelaces or hair conditioner. I felt less like a prisoner. You were even allowed to have and use your cell phone everyday after group sessions were over. Here is what a typical day at The Center was like:

8:00 Wake up
8:00-8:30 Meds
8:30 Breakfast
9:15 Group Check In (Sharing your feelings/setting goals with the group to check in with yourself, other patients, and the staff)
10:00 Expressive Therapy (this was a great group, there was always a good directive that really seemed to help everyone, but you were also free to choose your own activity as well.)
12:00 Meds and Lunch
1:00 Group Therapy
2:30 Education Therapy (Usually exactly what it sounds like, the group sometimes suggests things that they want to learn about {life skills})
4:00 Group Check In (Just checking in and letting yourself and others know how you felt about your day)
6:00 Meds/ Dinner
10:00 Meds
11:00 ‘Lights out’ (You were encouraged to be in your room trying to sleep, but I stayed up most nights journaling or drawing without confrontation)

After 4:30 you can sign out things like cell phones, i-pods, dvds, etc. During the day you may also have appointments scheduled with your therapist or your case manager. You are guaranteed to see each of them twice a week.

You will have an appointment with the Psychologist every day while at The Center. Dr. B. was amazing. And he was always making me smile. (Even if he had to do a jig in front of the surveillance cameras 🙂

Really, this was the best place that I could have gone to. Many other patients feel this way too. They come from all over the country to be at The Center. Usually it is all women there, but on occasion there may be a male admission. However, The Center never has more than 12 patients…. so again, unlike the typical psych ward you get more individualized attention and treatment.

For After Care at The Center there is a Day Center program that acts as a partial hospitalization program. However, this is not mandatory. Before leaving The Center your case manager will be sure to help you schedule appointments with both a therapist and a psychologist within 2 weeks of your discharge date.

I would also like to add that while The Center specializes in the treatment of patients with PTSD, they also have extensive experience treating patients with DID, DDNOS, Depression, Anxiety, BPDO, and addictive behaviors.

If you would like to visit the official web-page here is the link:
I hope that you may find it as helpful as I did!

I woke up today thinking about many things, one of them being the importance of listening. I didn’t realize until I finished my journaling and asked my husband to read over it, did I realize what an incredible gift he has given me all the years of our marriage…”the gift of listening to me.” This led me to my next epiphany for the day. I began to think back over my life of all the people who have listened to me, and what an impact that has made on my recovery and in my life in general. I realized that without someone to talk to, and listen to all the crazy, mismatched, unrealistic, untruths, hopes, dreams, and reality of what goes on in my mind, I fear I could really go insane.

Talking has been my blessed release. It brings me to such a grateful place in my heart to all who have loved me enough to listen to me. Being able to hear myself speak, sometimes about the unspeakable, the shameful, and the beautiful has allowed me to follow what lives inside of me to a brighter place. How do you repay so many people who during the course of their hectic sometimes, painful lives, stopped to listen to me! This seem to bring me to what has helped me find my core self, the center of my earth, the grounding spot of “who” I am.

After reading this, I realized that I wanted to say “Thank you” to all at Gift From Within, for reading my posts and responding with such understanding and hope!

Thanks for helping me feel safe!

Unfortunately when my PTSD exploded there were no friends or family to stand by me. I think they may have been afraid of what was happening to me. They were not prepared to be around someone whose life was out of control. I lived in a small town and the people in my life were not supportive. They didn’t know how to behave or what to say to me. I suffered as a child. I was abused. I could no longer hold in my pain. Childhood memories were surfacing. I didn’t know at that time I had PTSD. I would experience flashbacks.

I was surrounded by deeply religious people; good people. When the friends surrounding me began to notice changes, I was counseled to pray, read, study, and seek God’s help. The symptoms only increased and became more severe. Friends were frustrated and they became harsher critics. I heard remarks that stung. “You must be doing something wrong. Maybe you have a hidden sin and you haven’t confessed it.” I was shunned. “If God can’t help you, then neither can we.” I moved. I had to get away in order to heal.

There is a human side to PTSD. I consider this to be the gift from God. I believe that He built our bodies and minds so well that when we experience life threatening trauma we will find a safe place for us to go in order to survive. My faith has sustained me in my darkest hours. People involved in a religious and spiritual community are wonderful people. They are influential in our lives. What I would say is to please not judge us during our times of sorrow and pain. Be compassionate, offer to pray with someone in your spiritual community. Offer to read to me; help me shop for food and take care of myself. I realize now that professional treatment was the only thing that pulled me through those intense three years until my stability was regained. Friends and family need to be simply kind. Say nothing if they do not know what to say. Definitely don’t pass judgement or ignorantly decide what would be ‘good’ for an individual. Help them seek professional care. Offer to drive them to a clinic and be involved in going with them to determine what is going on. If you want to keep someone in your life, when you see them ‘fall down’, even if you can not pick them up by yourself, give them kindness and love until the full team of help arrives. Once they stabilize they will never forget your acts of kindness.

I am a veteran of the War in Iraq, having spent 12 months in Baghdad as the commander of a maintenance company. I was given multiple simultaneous missions to accomplish, ranging from Base Security, Convoy Security, and Area Security of a High Value Detainee Complex. In short, the majority of my soldiers did everything but the job they had trained to do-turn wrenches. I was as compassionate as I could be, but at the end of the day followed my orders and ensured our missions were accomplished with accuracy and professionalism.

Even though I brought all 244 of my soldiers home, many were extremely disgruntled about their experience. Those most discontented sought each other’s poison, and said extremely twisted and hurtful things about my leadership to those at State Headquarters who would listen. I was reprimanded, and I chose retirement over continuing in the political climate that I would have had to endure.

My PTSD does not come from mortar rounds or enemy fire (although that will never be forgotten); my stress comes from the disloyalty of those of whom I poured my heart and soul into for the time they were my responsibility, as well as the overall burden of command.

Those who are helping me cope the most with my inner struggles are the many that were and remain unconditionally loyal. They continue to let me know that I made the right decisions, and that everyone came home alive. The best words were from a sergeant in my unit who wrote in an email “There is absolutely no need for you to second guess yourself, you did a great job and got $%&& by the self servers. I said it before and I still feel the same, I would follow you into battle any time.” Another sergeant ended a recent email by concluding with “Thank you for molding me…” So my advice? Surround yourself with those who are truly loyal; lean on them and truly absorb their words of support.

  • CM
    Since surfacing long repressed, traumatic memories 4 years ago, I have had to find help for PTSD. The experience has been often isolating, as few, even those in 12 Step groups do not know how to listen and support effectively. Many people feel that being asked to provide comfort and support for painful feelings requires solutions. They frequently offer culturally acceptable formulas, such as focus on the positive, and or make a gratitude list. Instead of providing a safe, comforting space for the person to share their painful feelings, they are recommending distraction. Distraction is an action. It comes after acceptance.

There is a 12 Step expression that if understood and used, by someone asked to listen, may be very soothing and healing. It is called the 3 A’s. Their order is very important. The A’s are:

Awareness-Being willing and able to listen to the person express their painful feelings can help them become aware of what they are experiencing. It can help them identify what it is they are feeling such as grief, fear, etc. Help them identify the feeling or feelings. This can provide immediate relief. Confusion lessens.

Acceptance-Accept the feeling/feelings they have identified. We often fight our negative feelings and judge them. When the listener accepts, it is easier for the one experiencing the feelings to feel safe. It is often the struggle to avoid feeling that creates so much pain. The need to struggle is replaced by surrender to what is. Assurance that one does not have to act on the feelings, can provide more relief. Clarity replaces confusion.

Action- Appropriate action often quickly follows acceptance.If the person asks for suggestions, this is the time to offer them. Often the first action that the person will mention is letting go of the painful feeling. They may say, they feel they now can do this. They may then be ready for suggestions such as looking for things to be grateful for or steps they may need to take to remedy a challenge.

I have found that when I am able to feel heard and accepted, I no longer need to stay in the painful feeling. The loop of experiencing the pain over and power has been broken.

  • Kali
    I have chronic or complex PTSD resulting from numerous traumas over a long period of time instead of one specific traumatic event. Dealing with this type of PTSD takes much time and effort, perhaps because there are so many events, memories, and episodes that have impacted my life from the time I was a young child. Many of my symptoms appear in the area of self-esteem, intimacy issues and safety issues because I was neglected and subjected to trauma so early in life. This was complicated by many years in an abusive marriage.

Because I cannot remember a time when I felt safe, I am extremely aware of my surroundings, my eyes being like the searchlight of a lighthouse, seeking out any lurking dangers or traps that might harm. Being constantly on edge is very tiring, both physically and emotionally.

Because roles were reversed in my family, and I had to be the adult to my emotionally immature parents, I have trouble trusting significant people in my life. I still put the needs of others before myself because I fear losing those I love. Being abused by the man who vowed to cherish me further complicated my trust issues.

Because I was afraid when I was a child, and every day of my marriage, things are scary to me that most people do not understand. I go to unnecessary lengths to make my world feel safe. I struggle on a daily basis with thoughts and fantasies about bad things happening. Sometimes I grow quiet or cry for no apparent reason or suddenly feel afraid because something triggers a memory or a feeling that is very painful to me. Sometimes memories intrude upon my present reality and I lose track of where I am or what’s happening at the time.

Sometimes I feel sad or afraid and I may not know why. Since I was totally enmeshed in keeping my parents alive I never established my own identity, therefore I often feel I do not know who I am, and I am terribly afraid of being alone because, in a sense, I do not exist. My life was totally involved in keeping my parents alive and safe. Therefore, my emotions lead me around on a leash at times, making me feel I have no control over my life, that I am a victim. However I am not a victim, I am a survivor. I was a victim when I was a child and this happened, a victim during the years of domestic abuse when daily traumas occurred to my emotions, but now I am on the track to healing and I am a survivor, overcoming tremendous obstacles and finding the voice I lost when I was a child, and that was taken away from me by an angry and controlling spouse.

A common sign for me, that occurs on a daily basis, is the anxiety that I cannot always control, understand or even find the cause for. Sometimes a smell, a sound or a picture can trigger memories from my childhood. Another symptom is continuous nightmares, that go back in time, of the terror I once felt. Intimacy, or any kind of closeness, can bring on these forms of anxiety, flashbacks, and night terrors.

I feel having PTSD causes me to always be on guard against the world, even with people I think may feel safe. I am so afraid of being harmed that it is common for me to keep up my defenses. Sometimes this fear causes me to zone out, to detach from the reality of my surroundings in order to keep safe.

I cannot think of much value in having PTSD, but I do know that it is possible to come to terms with it. It helps to be able to put a name to what is wrong, to be able to describe it. It also helps to find time for myself and reflect on the progress I have made over the years. I have learned that it is possible to live with PTSD. Understanding what was happening to me has made it easier to accept and live with.

I have PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have had it since I was a young child, but was never properly diagnosed until a few years ago. I grew up being very depressed, isolated, and knowing that something was wrong. I have only fairly recently recovered memories of being abused and the details that accompany the memories. I have frequent flashbacks about the events, reliving them as if they are happening now, in the present with all the sensations, fear, and pain that I lived through.

In addition I have a lot of nightmares, panic attacks, and a generalized fear of people, places, sounds and other things that somehow trigger the memories and these other symptoms. The triggers are not always related directly to specific traumatic events. I am trying to learn what my triggers are so that I can better deal with them. Feeling safe and trusting others are huge issues for me. The people who abused my body intruded into my personal space and have left me feeling that there are no safe boundaries that I can count on.

Today I am working on the detailed memories, trying to remind myself that the abuse is not occuring in the present, though this is made difficult due to the intrusive flashbacks that I have yet to get a handle on or to be able to predict. I am working with a therapist, which is often helpful for people with PTSD, learning healthy coping resources and new skills to deal with the PTSD symptoms so I can better function in my everyday life.

I am continuing to recover from complex PTSD caused by childhood and adolescent trauma that included emotional deprivation and abuse, physical and sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, unstable living conditions and other extreme circumstances.

This left me with a profound sense of isolation , difference and loneliness that was exacerbated by severe social phobia and panic attacks, terrors and chronic very high levels of anxiety and fear. I have also had life-long, debilitating, immobilising depression. Under those conditions was a deep sense of badness and worthlessness.

These symptoms are indications of disconnection from self, others and the spiritual . Slowly healing occurs as connections are formed and the self is affirmed. But it is a struggle and life is often difficult and painful. But within that pain and struggle there are seeds of light, love, beauty and empowerment and a love and appreciation for all creation.

I was diagnosed with PTSD about a little over four years ago after recovering memories of childhood sexual abuse, memories that I had completely suppressed for over forty years. For me, probably the worst symptom of this disorder involves an inability to form close, lasting relationships with other people; having had my trust totally shattered as a child, I find it very, very difficult to trust as an adult. I yearn for close friendships, but they somehow always seem to elude me.

Another symptom I have is a hypervigilance–I am always on the alert for the possibility of danger and ready to protect myself from it. I am overly sensitive to noises and often wish that other people would give me some peace and quiet, even though they are really acting quite normally.

My particular situation also involves a numbing of the emotions; when I was abused as a small child by my father, I was told not to cry–to stop acting like a baby. So now I find it very difficult to tune in to my own emotions, and I have a difficult time crying, even though that is probably a release that would be beneficial to me. Sometimes I think people perceive me as snobby and aloof when in fact I am just still plagued with the behaviors I once needed to survive a difficult childhood.

Before I recovered my traumatic memories of childhood abuse (sexual/emotional/physical), I thought that there was something wrong with me as a person; now I understand that the way I am makes perfect sense considering my background. Now my goal is to leave behind some of the behaviors that I no longer need to survive and that get in the way of my finding happiness.

Growing up I had never heard of PTSD nor did I know that I had it. Being a rather contented person at my core, I instinctively made self-adjustments to my PTSD symptoms. For example certain loud tones in a voice, sudden noises or constant noise bothered me. I was easily startled. Sound seemed amplified to me and I would have a ‘flight’ reaction to it. I reasoned that I was simply sensitive, or maybe it was noise pollution combined with the fact that crowded city life with it’s numerous people was just not for me. At 19 I decided to move to a farm in the peaceful North Carolina Mountains to relieve some of the symptoms that I suffered. I knew two people in the area so I was not alone. Little did I realize that more was to come.

Enjoying my somewhat isolated life from people yet filled with animals and nature, new symptoms did emerge with a sudden crash. For the first time I experienced flashbacks together with extreme flooding of emotions that were uncontrollable. Haunting memories consisting of fragments including surviving death, a strong desire to live, trying to get up but unable, losing the battle to unconsciousness, remembering my last dying thoughts, etc. What did all this mean and why? These types of returned memories from childhood landed me in the hospital for several weeks unable to get out of bed. The doctor explained to me that I had PTSD and they started treating me for it. I was taking medication and had therapy daily for six weeks. And then when I got out I saw a therapist who was associated with the hospital. I saw her for three years.

That first year after the PTSD diagnosis I managed to work part-time but mostly felt disabled. Intense talk-therapy three times per week along with a medication plan educated me and equipped me with coping strategies in order for me to deal successfully with PTSD. The next two years were extremely wobbly: some steps forward, many steps backward. I finally felt that I had a safe measure of stability after three years of hard work. I then moved to Georgia and in time I realized that PTSD is a long term condition. It doesn’t just “go away.” The therapy that I have sought in this area has been rather disappointing. I haven’t found a therapist who has expertise in PTSD but I still have a counselor/friend in another State that gives me ongoing support and guidance. GFW has been beneficial to me in that the support pals I’ve met have been supportive.

One of the things that I consider “good” about PTSD is – it has helped me to remember/recover memories of the good times in my childhood and adult life that got buried with the bad things.

The bad thing is trying to stay in the “here and now” when memories come up. The flashbacks and abreactions (reliving the moment) are really difficult to deal with. I found a fantastic therapist who also uses the technique called EMDR (EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITIZATION AND REPROCESSING) that helped me move through much of the hard to deal with reactions, feelings and emotions that are so abundant in PTSD patients.

I have PTSD. It has been comforting reading about how others deal with the reality of living with PTSD, how it effects them on a daily basis. It is reassuring to know that I am not alone. It has been validating to know that I am not imagining the symptoms I have had for most of my life. Sometimes coping with fear on a daily basis caused me to feel “non-existent” but I know that others deal with the same feelings and symptoms.

In therapy I am learning to go back and parent the little child inside of me, giving me a new beginning and a chance to re-learn how life should be. I am learning to keep the child in me safe. Sometimes I feel like I’m still that innocent child, and other times I remember what happened to me and how I survived a living death. Consequently I feel like I’m two different people sometimes. It often gets confusing, causing me to feel like I’m on a tailspin, as a space ship falling to earth out of control. Knowing that others feel the same way is encouraging to me because I know I am not alone and we will all make it together.

I had signed up for a conference months ago, and where was it held? The very damn place where I ate, was drugged, and then assaulted! I was so pleased with myself for getting there, not getting aroused, even walking part way on the path to where I was assaulted without becoming aroused or having flashbacks. Then, since I had to pee on the break, I went into the bathroom, which just preceded being drugged, and as I walked by the restaurant to the conference room, my body went nuts. How embarrassing. And, then what is the topic just after break? PTSD! And, some male attendee, who had been pontificating all morning, started in, said the only people who develop PTSD are those psychologically impaired before the trauma. Despite motor tremulousness, shaky voice, and my inherent shyness that always makes me keep my thoughts to myself in public settings, I got pissed, raised my hand, and spoke.

I nailed his ass with research, facts, his confusion about the complexities of PTSD. The speaker then engaged, became interested, validated my views, and there ensued a discussion about EMDR. It strained my shyness to keep talking, but it was useful to those attending, and the pontificator shut up for a few hours.

But, then, the hotel started a yearly testing of fire alarms. Every few minutes for 90 minutes, a loud screeching burst out. Each time, I startled, which increased my arousal but also caused back spasms. The good thing to observe was that while not everyone was startled, all were upset by the horrible intrusion. I am proud of myself, as I became a mess somatically as the arousal built and back pain increased. During the lunch break, I went to my office, returned a few client calls, then meditated and relaxed, and went back to the conference for four more hours despite wanting to come home and cocoon. It was an excellent desensitization/flooding experience.

So, tomorrow, the anniversary day, not date, of my assault, I have asked my friend to go eat at the restaurant, walk down the path where I was assaulted. I think I am strong enough to approach it and hope it will further desensitize my body from remembering. I am a stubborn wench, you know.

Well, thank you for listening. While I was partly a mess yesterday, I am pleased my old self came out, reasserted herself, and am in approach not avoidance mode.

I am so fortunate to have the education and experience of knowing what the symptoms are and be able to “spectator myself” through them. Most who are traumatized react to the symptoms, because they don’t understand what is happening to them. So, while in my past professional work with clients with PTSD, I educated them about “what was happening and why,” gave cognitive reframing strategies, I am even more insightful now. It has been a gift from my assault to know from the inside what it is like.