I have experienced a lot of negative self-talk around my posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Before my PTSD diagnosis and therapy, my daily life was filled with stress and feelings of worthlessness. I had lived with my anxieties, depression, and dissociation for most of my life. I had no frame of reference for what life could be like without these symptoms. I had to reach a point where I was unable to do anything but sit on the couch and obsess over imagined diseases and an untimely death before I sought out a professional. Even then, I had a difficult time allowing myself to heal as if I wasn’t significant enough for help. Here are some things I wish I had known about negative self-talk and PTSD when I first began reaching out for assistance.
Low Self-Esteem and Negative Self-Talk Are Often Side-Effects of PTSD
Individuals living with untreated PTSD may feel weak or inadequate when in reality they are dealing with a variety of overwhelming symptoms expending significant energy just to function on a daily basis. A common experience among people with PTSD is a feeling of inadequacy. We are never quite good enough. We are never really worthy of anything comforting or pleasurable. This negative self-talk around PTSD is not helpful.
There is often a sense that we should be able to improve on our own and that if we can hide all of our inadequacies to the world, we might just fool people into thinking we are far more competent than we feel. In fact, many of us are driven to perfection to compensate for our feelings of inadequacy. It is entirely possible to present this front to the world while simultaneously feeling deep depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. However, it does nothing to aid in healing, and without treatment, it can end in a terrible crash, as it did for me.
Your Negative Self-Talk, Low Feelings and PTSD Are Treatable
If you or someone in your life has experienced trauma and is trying to make it day to day without help, it’s time to look at the PTSD-related self-talk that is standing in the way of healing. Do any of these false beliefs sound familiar?
- I deserved to be hurt.
- I should be able to deal with these problems myself.
- I’m making too much of what happened to me; I need to get over it.
- No one can know how messed up and broken I am inside.
- I will never be able to get a job (have a family, socialize, be respected) if I see a therapist.
- No one needs me.
- I’m not entitled to compassion.
- I must appear perfect at whatever people see me do. If I’m not perfect, I am worthless.
- I’m not worthy of praise, but I deserve punishment for messing up.
- Everyone gets scared and depressed I’m just overreacting.
- I’ll never be enough.
- No one will forgive me for my past.
While anyone can experience these thoughts at times, people struggling with PTSD symptoms live with an internal dialogue filled with these false perceptions. They are very easy to believe when perceived through the lens of a trauma survivor.
For those struggling with negative self-talk and PTSD, those who cannot accept how inaccurate they are, it’s time to find someone with whom you can share these insecurities. You deserve to be happy, and there is no shame in having been hurt.
If you understand this struggle and are comfortable reaching out, please share your thoughts in the comments.