Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is incredibly challenging and on occasion becomes an overwhelming experience. It’s a condition that can affect anyone who has gone through a traumatic event, for me it was when I was a cop and someone decided they were going to shoot at me 6 times. PTSD symptoms disrupt various aspects of my life. However, I want to share my personal journey of how I manage PTSD, as I believe that with the right tools and support, it is possible to regain control of your life and find management and resilience of the condition.
- Seek Professional Help
One of the most obvious steps in managing PTSD is to seek professional help. I can’t emphasize enough how essential it is to consult with a mental health expert, such as a therapist or psychiatrist, and not use Bob from the pub. Seeing a Therapist is like visiting a Doctor, these experts have years of training to diagnose and develop a tailored treatment plan to address your specific needs. Although I know a lot about my condition and how I can help others in many different ways, I would never offer a therapy session as I know how much damage an untrained person can cause (I’ve got the T-Shirt).
Therapy, particularly cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy, can be incredibly beneficial, unfortunately for me they did not take hold or deal directly with my condition. Through therapy, I have learned how to identify and challenge negative thought patterns and have been able to gradually manage my traumatic memories, in a more controlled way.
- Medication When Necessary
Never rule out medication, it can be a helpful component of PTSD management. While it’s not a cure, it can assist in alleviating some of the most debilitating symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. Again for me none of them worked, it made my condition worse and I got very sick, suffering bouts of vertigo and black outs. It’s crucial to work closely with your doctor to find the right medication and dosage that suits your needs, so make sure you are open and honest when you meet.
- Building a Support System
Living with PTSD is isolating, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Building a strong support system is vital for your well-being. Share your struggles with trusted friends and family members who can offer emotional support and understanding. When I was at my worst, I lost my entire life, and was fortunate enough to rebuild it. I forced myself to go out and meet people, I went to interest clubs and meetings and found being around people who did not know what was going on a relief. Joining a support group for people with PTSD can also be highly beneficial, as it provides a safe space to connect with others who are going through similar experiences and you can open up, but a word of warning do not overstay your welcome and watch for negative conversations that are not beneficial to anyone.
- Self-Care and Mindfulness
Practicing self-care is essential in managing PTSD. At my lowest, I made a pack to visit the gym 3 times a week. It gave me a focus and I liked that I have a schedule. Simple daily routines like exercise, healthy food, reduction of alcohol and adequate sleep can significantly improve your overall well-being. Additionally, mindfulness and meditation can help you stay grounded. I had an alarm on my phone that went off at 4pm every day for a 20 minutes guided meditation (which I searched for on YouTube) and I found it reduced the frequency and intensity of the intrusive thoughts and flashbacks. Although I do not meditate every day, I still have it as a ‘go to’ solution when things start to feel “off”.
- Avoid Triggers
Identifying and avoiding triggers is a key aspect of managing PTSD. It’s essential to be aware of situations, places, or people that might trigger traumatic memories or intense emotional reactions. For me I cannot be part of any conversation around firearm’s (even writing this my chest feels heavy). As an extreme I moved Counties to be away from the location that the gun incident happened. Even today if I were to drive past Swindon, it would make me very uncomfortable, so I try and avoid it whenever I can. This doesn’t mean you have to live in fear of these triggers, but you can adjust and being prepared for a flare up can with coping strategies can help you navigate them more successfully.
- Education and Awareness
Knowledge is power. Educating yourself about PTSD and its symptoms can help you better understand what you’re going through. This is why I write about the condition, show others how it challenges me and try to provide a map for others to follow in my footsteps. I try breaking down the stigma associated with all mental health conditions and find that this gives me great purpose. The more you know, the better equipped you are to communicate your needs to others and you to can become an advocate for others at work and even in the healthcare system.
- Patience and Persistence
Managing PTSD is not a linear journey. For me there have been ups and downs, good days and bad days. It’s essential to be patient with yourself and recognise that healing and learning all this takes time. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small they may seem will increase your positivity, and make sure you are persistent in your efforts to regain control of your life.
Managing PTSD is a unique and deeply personal journey, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to find a combination of strategies and treatments that suit your specific needs and circumstances. I deliver my talks and presentations to help so many others and if you are interested in knowing how to book me to listen to more about my PTSD and journey, please contact email@example.com.
Remember that you are not defined by your trauma, and with the right support and determination, you can find management, healing and build some resilience in your life. Never give up on yourself, because you are stronger than you know.