It’s hard to describe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to someone who doesn’t have it. It’s hard to describe the intense, paralyzing terror that takes over when you’re having a flashback or trauma memory. Sometimes it feels worse than the actual trauma itself because you keep reliving it over and over again. During trauma, often times, we dissociate and go numb while it is happening but with PTSD the terror of it keeps coming up, every day, sometimes every moment. It feels like our brain freezes during the exact moment of the horrific trauma and it replays that moment again and again. It can be years after the trauma and the terror and horror can be just as intense as the day it happened. It’s like your brain can’t differentiate between now and then. Even if it’s been years since the trauma, your brain thinks it just happened or that it is about to happen again.
My trauma ended over 10 years ago, and yet I still get so panicked every night. I still feel like it’s about to happen again at any moment. I still get filled with terror and dread every day. It’s like I can’t move on from it. The trauma changed my brain and it affects me every single day. The panic gets so intense sometimes. I feel all the emotions from when the trauma happened and even though they are feelings from the past my brain projects them into the present and uses them to justify that the trauma is happening again now, even though it’s not.
PTSD can be so paralyzing. It can make it feel like it’s not safe to get out of bed but that it’s also not safe to stay in bed. It can make you feel like the world is ending or like something terrible is about to happen. It fills you with so much dread even though everything around you is fine. Sometimes I get paralyzed for hours, feeling like if I even move, something terrible will happen. Going out in public can be so difficult. Everyone seems like a potential threat. The hypervigilance is so exhausting. Having to be aware of everyone around you all the time; their mood and emotions and energy. Looking for any sign of danger. Doing something simple like going to the grocery store can be so exhausting and draining because of this.
PTSD makes even those you are close with feel unsafe. It screams ‘danger’ in every relationship, even when the person is safe. Even when the person truly loves you and doesn’t want to hurt you. PTSD keeps you from being able to feel the safety and love; it’s so difficult. Those of us with PTSD are living a life that is full of terror, never feeling safe anywhere or with anyone, and constantly feeling like something awful is about to happen. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. People with PTSD are so incredibly strong and brave. Often times, we feel weak, but living with something this awful takes so much strength and power.
If you have PTSD, you are not alone. There are a lot of us who suffer with it. A lot of us who feel paralyzed by it. A lot of us who feel tortured by it. Even if it feels like there is no one else in your life who understands, you are not alone. There are a lot of people on the WhiteFlag App who have PTSD and understand how you feel. If you need support or want someone to talk to there are people there who will listen. With support, a good therapist, and sometimes medication, it is possible to heal from PTSD. The trauma changed our brain but it’s possible to change it back so we don’t have to suffer like this anymore. I’m in the middle of doing that right now. It’s really hard and it can take a while, but it’s worth it. There is hope. I’m really glad you’re here. There is a community waiting for you on WhiteFlag. You are not alone.
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