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The Invisible Struggle: Understanding PTSD

Rebecca Hilliard

Guest Blogger

PTSD is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It completely disrupts your life and is often worse than the actual trauma itself. The trauma might be a one-time event or something that lasts for years, but PTSD can last even longer and take years of therapy and hard work to recover from. June is PTSD Awareness Month, and I’m so glad this month exists for those of us who suffer from it. It’s such an invisible battle and it’s so hard to explain to people who don’t have it. They often don’t understand why we cancel plans, why we get anxious in certain settings, or why we get triggered so easily. You might not have anyone in your life who understands, but just know that those of us who also have PTSD do understand. We get what it’s like to wake up panicked from nightmares, not knowing what’s true and what was a dream. We get what it’s like to have a trigger derail us for the rest of the day or week, to not understand why it derailed us, or to be frustrated because it was something small. We get what it’s like to be upset that the healing is taking forever and to wonder if our life will always be like this or if there is light at the end of the tunnel. We get what it’s like to sometimes think we would rather not be alive than experience life like this. You are not the only one who feels this way.

One of the hardest parts of PTSD for me is never feeling safe. I can be at home by myself, snuggling with my calm dog, and yet feel like I’m in complete danger and like something terrible is about to happen. I always feel this way even when, logically, I know I’m completely safe. It’s like my nervous system remembers what it was like to be in danger and doesn’t realize that we’re safe now. It’s like my brain is always screaming danger to keep me prepared just in case something bad happens again. Logic doesn’t always help with this. I’m sharing this so those of you who experience the same can know you’re not alone. I’m not recovered or healed from it yet, but I’m working so hard to get there. I feel so determined to have a life that feels worth living, and yet sometimes I feel like I’m not making any progress and wonder if it’s possible. Sometimes I think I’d rather not be alive. But I stay alive. For you and for the others who struggle with PTSD too. I don’t want to let it win, and I’ve heard stories of other people who have healed, and my therapist believes it’s possible as well, so I’m holding onto that. I’m holding onto hope for me and for you.

One of the things that helps me is getting outside and feeling the sunshine. It is grounding and helps me feel like everything might be okay. Movement like biking, swimming, and kayaking helps me release the tension my body is holding. Sometimes I’ll even lie in bed and shake my body to let the bad feelings and tension from the trauma out. It’s surprisingly helpful.

I know how hopeless PTSD can feel. It affects every aspect of your life and can suck the joy out of everything. But healing and recovery are possible, even if it takes a while. We can have a life that’s free of this if we just keep holding on. If you’re looking for someone to talk to about it, the WhiteFlag App is a great resource. You might not have anyone in your life who understands, but there are people on this app who will.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge all of you who are still experiencing trauma and are still in an unsafe place. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this right now, and I hope it ends soon. I’m sending you love and peace and hope. Please message someone on the WhiteFlag App so they can give you the support you need. You’re not alone in this.


Connect with someone who understands on WhiteFlag: a free, anonymous, peer support network. Now!

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