PTSD and Toll It Takes On Relationships by Chloe Pearson
Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Chloe Pearson. She shares a personal story about PTSD, what it does to relationships and how to deal with PTSD. As a survivor of abuse, I know all too well the effect of PTSD on one’s life.
PTSD and the Toll It Takes On Relationships
by Chloe Pearson
A dear friend of mine was in a horrible car accident a few months ago. After spending several weeks in the hospital, she was eager to head home with her husband–but the
PTSD she didn’t even realize she had, reared its ugly head before they made it halfway home. When they approached an intersection much like the one she’d been hit in, she suddenly couldn’t catch her breath. She told me she instantly felt panicked, and soon bordered on the edge of hysteria as her husband tried to keep her calm. They ended up having to pull over until she could regain her composure, but to this day my friend still can’t bring herself to drive on major roads.
PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can affect anyone from any walk of life, but it is often misunderstood because it affects everyone differently. It can effect work performance, living situations, relationships, and even life itself, as PTSD is linked to depression and suicide.
PTSD stems from a traumatic experience–such as surviving abuse, living through or witnessing a terrorist event, or participating in military combat–and often leads to long-term complications such as nightmares, flashbacks, substance abuse, and various mental health disorders.
It’s important for sufferers of PTSD to remember they are not alone, and that help is available from trained professionals who understand the symptoms of the disorder. Many times, friends and family members want to be supportive but don’t know how, and this can lead to a rift in relationships or resentment. Not being able to talk about what you’re going through is a big deal, so keep in mind there are support groups you can join, either in person or online, that will help you get through the bad times.
PTSD can be life-altering; for instance, you may feel an intense desire to avoid certain places or events in order to keep your anxiety at bay. In doing so, you may feel anger or irritation at not being able to join in during social occasions, which can cause arguments with loved ones. On the other hand, if you push the anger down, it may surface in another way at another time. Sufferers of PTSD are at risk for violent behavior, especially if there is a substance abuse problem as well. Therapy can be enormously helpful in this situation.
It could be that you feel the need to push loved ones away because of what happened to you or because you don’t want to hurt them. This can lead to hurt feelings or irreparable damage within a relationship, so communication is key. Sharing your feelings and learning to cope with the symptoms of PTSD can help you relax, open up, and work on problem solving skills.
There are many things you can do to minimize the symptoms of PTSD, including:
Drawing, singing, dancing, acting, cooking, writing, and gardening are all ways to be
creative that can reduce stress and help you learn to cope with your feelings. It’s important to find ways to express your emotions in ways outside of talking and find healthy methods to do so.
Daily exercise is often recommended for those suffering from PTSD or depression because it helps the individual set a goal, raise self-esteem, and stay fit while elevating moods. Get outside daily if possible and fit in a workout, or practice yoga/meditation, which have multiple benefits. Meditation is a form of mindfulness that helps you focus on the moment and let go of past events, and it can be extremely helpful for PTSD sufferers.
Know your limits
It’s important to know what might trigger a flashback or nightmare, what might make you
have a sleepless night, and what you can cope with in a given day. See your doctor for advice on whether medication or certain types of therapy are right for you, and remember to take care of yourself.
Never forget that, even though you may be frustrated that they don’t understand, your loved ones truly want the best for you. It’s OK to wait until you’re ready to open up to them, but try to let them be there for you as much as possible. Together, you and your loved ones, can overcome the overwhelming feelings PTSD brings and move forward.
How do you or a loved one deal with PTSD? What do you do to prevent PTSD flashbacks?
Ms. Pearson loves volunteering for Consumer Health Labs, which aims to help consumers make healthy choices.
Photos via Pixabay