PTSD can be extremely difficult to live with, for both the sufferer themselves and the people around them. PTSD will affect people in different ways and symptoms may vary widely between individuals. Equally, an individual themselves may experience a wide spectrum of feelings, from numbness to extreme anxiety with associated feelings of self harm. It is important to rsepct and try to undertand the individuality of the presentation when beginning to tackle PTSD. Below are some useful tips to help you on the road to recovery.
1. Seek professional help
Recent evidence suggests that 70% of people suffering from PTSD have not sought professional help (source: PTSD UK). There could be many reasons for this, including the fact that you may not realise that you need help or that you feel too embarrassed to seek help. However, working with a professional will more likely help you make those steps towards your recovery. It has also been shown that it is never too late to seek help. People have been seen to benefit form treatment for many years after the initial event that led to their PTSD. Initial consultation should be through your GP. From here, dependent on how long you have been experiencing symptoms and the severity, the next stage will likely be a referral to a mental health specialist. This specialist will help devise an individualised treatment plan to work towards your recovery.
2. Talking and understanding
People with PTSD can often find it hard to trust those around them following a traumatic event. This can potentially lead to a breakdown in relationships. Where you feel able to, it is important that you try and utilise your support network and talk to the people around you. If you are able to explain what you are feeling and how this may affect your behaviour, those closet to you will be able to begin to understand and perhaps modify their behaviour in response to your actions. It may be something as simple as saying to your friends: "Thankyou for your invites out but right now, busy places frighten me. Could we stay in?" In this way, you are able to maintain key relationships whilst not subjecting yourself to a stressful situation. If you feel that you are unable to express yourself at this point in time (which is completely inderstandable), then you can direct people to a PTSD website so that they can read and gain an understanding of what you may be experiencing.
3. Know your triggers
Different people respond to PTSD in different ways. For some people, closed environments may trigger flashbacks so something as simple as taking the stairs rather than the lift may minimise flashbacks. Other people may need to avoid noisy atmospheres, such as train stations. Understand what works for you and let those around you know too.
Importantly, understand what you are experiencing is a normal physiological response to a traumatic situation. Don't chastise yourself and allow yourself the time you need to recover.