If you are reading this, you may be discovering that the feelings, thoughts and behaviours you find yourself sitting with, may in fact be symptoms of PTSD.
From the outset, what you need to know is that while the process won’t be instantaneous, you can recover from PTSD, you can get control of your life again.
You need to get yourself a therapist that specialises in PTSD. Call the Australian Psychological Service on 1800 333 497 and ask for the name of a PTSD specialist in your area. Take that name to your local GP and get a referral. Your GP may also recommend some medications to help with the symptoms.
If you don’t feel up to organising things, enlist the help of a friend or family member to make the call, and drive you to your appointment. Whatever it takes, get yourself to a GP and then to a therapist regularly. This is vital for your recovery.
Have a routine
Having a daily routine will really help you. Building predictability and a sense of routine into your day to day life can really make you feel more secure and grounded.
Make sure your daily routine contains exercise. This can be as simple as a walk or a bike ride. Experts have found a marked improvement in PTSD sufferers who engage regularly in exercise.
Also, make sure that every day you do something that you enjoy. This could be hanging out with a friend, having a massage or enjoying a bath. Whatever works for you and adds meaning to your life.
Don’t isolate yourself
Don’t lock yourself away from friends and family. You don’t have to talk to them about your experiences if you don’t want to, you just have to be with them.
There may be times when you want to be alone, and that is totally fine, but it’s not okay to totally shut yourself off from the world.
You need people around you to ground you in the here and now, and keep you from looping the past over and over in your head.
Give yourself time and space
Don’t throw yourself full force into work and play to avoid unpleasant feelings. They will only catch up with you later. Give yourself time to heal. Balance your time between friends, family, work, relaxation, exercise and time alone.
Be kind to yourself
You have survived a trauma. You are strong and courageous and you are doing the very best that you can.
Beating yourself up over where you are at will not help you, it will not make you recover more quickly, and it will only make you feel worse.
Recognise how very strong you are to even be here. Things will get better. It will just take time.
Ask yourself, if your friend was in the position that you are, would you be as hard on them as you are being on yourself? The chances are not likely. You would reassure them, you would be kind to them.
Give yourself that same gift of kindness.
It is entirely up to you who you want to talk about your trauma with. Don’t bottle up your story and your feelings if they want to be told.
If you don’t feel ready to tell someone about your experiences, write your thoughts down in a diary. Get it out on paper.
Cut stimulants and avoid alcohol
Your nervous system is already really amped up, you don’t need any more stimulation. With this in mind, it is a really good idea to cut out caffeinated drinks, soft drinks, energy drinks and any highly sugared foods.
It also may be really tempting to have a drink or 50 to take the edge off how you’re feeling. The problem with this is that while it may temporarily dull the pain, it doesn’t fix it. In fact it can actually make your moods and mental state much worse. Best to steer clear of the booze until you are in a better place.
It is a hard place that you are in at the moment. You may be feeling angry, confused, scared and unsafe. The above suggestions will help you wade through the murky waters you’re in and help you to reach the shore. You may feel lost now, but with the right professional help, you will make your way back to yourself. Reach out, get help and get better sooner.