How to Talk About Your PTSD
How to talk about your posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is tricky, isn't it? I know during my recovery I found it very difficult to talk about my trauma and/or PTSD experience. I was uncomfortable dredging up the trauma memories, sharing my fears, and even admitting my shame, embarrassment, and other issues. But PTSD thrives and grows in the silence the way mold grows in dark and moist places. Healing means letting in the sun and it starts with learning how to talk about your PTSD.
Learning How To Talk About Your PTSD
During my PTSD recovery, the last thing I wanted to do was talk about my trauma, my survival, my PTSD (or anything else for that matter). What I did want to do was crawl into my shell and never speak again.
The reason for my silence was that my trauma caused me to feel overwhelmed by emotion, so it was better to shut down than "share" or "express." I also didn’t have the words to explain my experience or what I was feeling. I couldn’t, wouldn’t and didn’t talk about any of it -- for 29 years. And then PTSD brought me to my knees. That's when I found poetry. Finally, I discovered a way to begin putting into words what was literally threatening to kill me. It was because I found words that I eventually found help.
It’s true, struggling with symptoms of posttraumatic stress can make language hard to grasp, but it isn’t true that we can’t do it. Putting pain into words can help contain, relieve and lessen it. Communicating is the crux of surviving survival. Be brave. Start finding a way to learn how to talk about your PTSD.
Starting to Talk About Your PTSD
In order to get the help you need, it’s imperative you begin to wrangle language. So often we don’t talk because we don’t know what to say or how to say it. But think about this: actors rehearse. They have important lines to get out and they memorize them so they get the playwright’s intention perfect. You can do the same. I know you’re capable of talking, you just haven’t yet figured out how. Today, start figuring it out:
- Pretend you’re the lead in a very dramatic play. Your role: "Survivor" and in this scene you need to explain to another character what it feels like to be you.
- This will be a monologue. Write it out. And then memorize the key points. In the flood of emotion (that will surely come until you get used to telling the many different facets of your story) it can help to have a script. Read it over and over. Get familiar with it. Feel how the words roll around in your mouth. Listen to the sound of your own voice.
- If you don’t want to memorize the script, then practice and take the page(s) with you to an appointment or to meet a friend. Read them out loud to someone. Words are the key to your freedom. Start getting comfortable with them.
Learning how to talk about your PTSD takes time, but when you find the right person, place, time and way to do it the rewards can be enormous, even opening a new door to healing that begins to provide enormous relief.
Michele is the author of Your Life After Trauma: Powerful Practices to Reclaim Your Identity and Heal Your PTSD: Dynamic Strategies that Work. Connect with her on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and her website, HealMyPTSD.com.
Rosenthal, M. (2015, June 18). How to Talk About Your PTSD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2015/06/how-to-talk-about-your-ptsd
Author: Michele Rosenthal
I'll work my way up to it.
Keep being brave!