My name is Bethany Avery, and I suffer from complex posttraumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). I started showing symptoms of C-PTSD when I was 16 years old, and I first sought treatment for my disorder when I was in college. Finding solid footing in the shaky world that C-PTSD creates has been a tough but important battle, and I’m excited to share my story and coping methods as part of the "Trauma! A PTSD Blog" at HealthyPlace.
There are some false assumptions about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that people continue to make, and they make me want to hand out informational brochures on PTSD myths. Especially bothersome are the misconceptions rooted in PTSD stigma. Let's take a look at some of the more common examples of false assumptions about PTSD.
One of the things I find most frustrating about living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the impact PTSD has on my sex drive. I am a private person, and sex is a decidedly personal issue for many people, so I've put this topic off many times. However, the problems that PTSD can bring to partners don't go away on their own, so let's explore the potential difficulties that PTSD symptoms can bring to a sexual relationship.
Feeling helpless helps my trauma recovery? Yes--you read the title correctly. The subject of this article is helplessness as a form of healing. If that sounds completely counterintuitive to you, you're not alone. I'm sure that if I had come across an article making this same claim in the past, I would have labeled it as completely ludicrous. But hear me out. If you totally disagree, you can write out your counter-argument in the comments.
For many individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), short-term memory loss is a significant concern. While working to calm and organize memories of trauma, individuals with PTSD may also struggle to recall simple, everyday information. Short-term memory loss can leave an individual with PTSD with concerns over deteriorating cognitive functioning, and uncertainty about just how much forgetfulness is reasonable and how much becomes a medical concern.
Understanding how stress from positive change adds to our stress load improves our self-care and helps us stay on the path to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) recovery. While the word "stress" applies to life-altering situations like traumatic or stressful events as often as it pertains to a long to-do list, it is not typically associated with times when things are good. However, positive change and stress do exist together and it helps people with PTSD to recognize them when they occur.
We can't get away from having toxic people in our life sometimes. In a perfect world, we would never encounter someone unhealthy for us. The people with whom we hold company would all be healthy influences. Unfortunately, as those of us with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) likely already know, we do not live in a perfect world. Although we can choose our friends, and we can migrate toward or away from certain co-workers, acquaintances, and even family members, we cannot always prevent having some toxic people in our life.
Seasonal holidays involve many inherent rituals, but have you considered creating your own personal rituals to protect you from holiday stress and anxiety? I had the opportunity to discuss rituals--both helpful and harmful ones--with psychologist Stanton Peele while researching an article about addiction for Vice.1 He describes the ways in which some rituals actually protect people from developing addictions--such as Jewish customs of drinking wine only during certain occasions. He finds that Jews who associate wine in that religious context often find it odd to think of alcohol as a "party drug." This conversation made me think of the routine rituals we encounter during the holidays. Can trauma survivors intentionally create personal rituals as a means of coping with some of the extra stress associated with holidays?
Depersonalization is one of the potential dissociative symptoms experienced by a person with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individuals frequently describe depersonalization as repeated instances of feeling a disconnect between one's thoughts and physical self. Some also describe it as watching the world through a dreamlike state or watching events from outside one's body. It is one of the most challenging to define sensations I have ever experienced. Following are some examples of depersonalization symptoms in PTSD and how I experienced them.
To avoid the stigma around posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), many people keep their PTSD symptoms secret. How others perceive people with PTSD creates the stigma. Yet, there is another form of derision at play here --that of self-stigma. Identifying, understanding and correcting self-stigma can significantly impact us and the stigma around PTSD as well.