Living With PTSD

Because psychological disorders are invisible to others, they are not as real to them as physical disabilities are. People can understand that someone is in a wheelchair and that they cannot do the same things other people can do. People can understand that a person is blind and that the person has difficulty doing the day to day things that they can easily do.

Even though they can understand that  a person is blind and is disabled to do many things, they still cannot understand what a blind person really goes through. There are also feelings about how others treat them.

There are aspects to social interaction, work interaction and even stigma, that a person with a physical disability experiences. These things are hard for other people to understand.

We can experience what it would be like to not be able to see, by putting on a blindfold and trying to walk around the house.

Most likely we would bump into things and find it very difficult to navigate. The faces of our loved ones would disappear, and only be able to be viewed in out memory.

As we walked around with a blindfold on, we could experience what it would be like to not be able to see, but we could not fully experience what it would be like to be blind. If we were to become blind, our entire lifestyle would be changed forever. Our social life and nearly all of our personal interactions would be different.

Driving the car would be impossible, as would reading a book. As we experienced the world without the sense of sight, we would find that it is very different. The independence of driving to the local QuickCheck for coffee with no longer exist. Doing our own laundry would become a much harder task, much less putting the clothes away.

We would not be able to choose clothes to buy from a catalogue or from Amazon.com. We would be dependent on others as to how we looked in the clothes we wore. If the beautician did a mediocre job on our haircut, we would have no way to know.

If we were blind, our ability to interact with the world would be completely different than it is now. Our social life would be affected. Our job would have to change. Our independence would be compromised. People would see us differently.

Some people would feel pity for us, while other people would take advantage of us. Our prospects for a romantic relationship would be limited to those people who would be willing to accept a relationship with a blind person.

Parenting would be more of a challenge. Every single thing that we wanted to do in life, would be affected by our blindness.

Living with severe mental illness has something in common with the experience of a person with a physical disability. The daily activities of survival are often  extremely difficult for us. We struggle with the simplest of tasks that other people find easy to do.

 We are  all subject to the chemicals and neurological functions in our brains. PTSD interrupts and alters the normal function of the amygdala and the frontal cortex of the brain.

People with PTSD are tormented by an overload of emotion and extreme feelings. We have flashbacks, memories, fears or sadness that interfere with our lives every day.

While there is a certain amount of sympathy and understanding  given to people with physical disabilities, there is much less given to people with mental dysfunctions. Most people cannot understand that simple things like getting ready for work or shopping for groceries, can be traumatizing for us.

Things that may be extremely difficult or impossible to do for someone with severe anxiety, or PTSD

1. Getting out of bed in the morning

2. Deciding what to wear

3. Getting up the courage to go to work or school

4. Leaving the house

5. Driving the car or dealing with public transportation

6. Going out to lunch

7. Dealing with co-workers

8. Keeping our job

9. Eating in the break room

10. Talking on the phone

11. Going to the post office

12. Opening our mail

13. Going to the grocery store

14. Calling a repair man

15  Answering the door

16. Sitting in the waiting room at the therapist office

17. Cleaning the house

18. Organizing / looking through our personal things

19. Talking to loved ones

20. Talking to strangers

21. Taking the car to be repaired

22. Going to sleep

23. Going out with friends

24. Going on a date

25. Maintaining a relationship with a partner

26. Going to the doctor or the dentist

27. Going to the emergency room

28. Asking the pharmacist about our medication

29. Leaving an abusive partner

30. Drawing proper boundaries in relationships

31. Inviting friends to the house

32. Going to a party or event

25. Getting a better job

26. Moving

27. Getting a better partner

28. Making new friends

29. Moving ahead in life

30. Learning something new

31. Asking for a raise

32. Asking for help

33. Hiring new employees

34. Returning unwanted items to Walmart

35. Remembering things

36. Communicating about our feelings

37. Communicating our thoughts

38. Understanding where our anxiety is coming from

39. Living normal lives

40. Not feeling like a failure

I am bound to have missed many others and maybe you can add something to the list. These are things that people are able to do relatively easily but we often cannot.

The problem of living with PTSD becomes two-fold. The first part of the problem is that the tasks themselves are sometimes monumentally difficult. The second part is dealing with the guilt and shame when interacting with other people who misunderstand the behaviors caused by PTSD.

Because mental illness is impossible to actually see, there is a lack of  understanding from family and friends. Just because someone’s suffering is not visible to people does not make it any less real. The ability to perform the simplest of tasks can sometimes be affected.

If you are suffering from PTSD try not to judge yourself or see yourself through the eyes of others. You are the only one who knows how you feel and what you can and cannot do. The views of other people are through their own filters and perceptions. The opinions and advice of others is based on their own information, biases, beliefs and their perception of reality. 

You are in charge of your own healing process. Do the things you know are right for you.

If you need a time out from tasks, or a break for the day, then take it. If you need to schedule your day in a certain way or adapt activities then do that.

You have to trust in your own intuition about your own self care. Listen to what your brain and your body are telling you. No one else is inside of your brain or your body, They do not know what you need as well as you do.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michael33
    Oct 02, 2015 @ 23:05:22

    Wonderful informative post, Annie. Your list of difficult things to do also applies to those of us with severe illnesses. We too suffer from many physical and mental limitations as you have mentioned and it is wonderful that you bring this into the light of many of those who do not understand. I hope you know that you are spreading your light into many lives of those who suffer and enlightening many of those who have yet to understand how PTSD, Anxiety, and illness can limit one’s ability to cope with everyday life… and I thank you with all my heart. Thank you for giving hope to many…
    Hope your evening is most beautiful…
    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • gentlekindness
      Oct 03, 2015 @ 02:53:27

      Michael you are right. This list does also apply to people with severe illnesses, invisible illnesses both physical and mental.
      I think that any phsysical severe and / or chronic illness brings emotional and mental pain with it.

      Then you are suffering from invisible illness of both physical and mental pain. The feeling of being isolated and alone with your suffering creates a traumatic stress disorder all its own.

      Everyone needs to be seen. It is good we have this blogging world where some people can see us. Many of us, including myself live in a family and a daily life where we are invisible…our pain is discounted, made fun of, or even used against us until we fear speaking of it at all.

      It can feel like living in a live horror movie. That is how my life feels right now.

      I appreciate your words of kindness and that you always talk to me with respect. The lack of basic boundaries and respect as a person wears on me in my life.

      Living in mentally, financially, emotionally abusive situations is like an invisible illness all its own too. The list also applies to people living with mentally abusive people.

      You and the others on wordpress are my only lifeline….also my followers on YouTube that talk to me.

      There has to be a LifeLine of some sort in order to have any hope.

      Like

      Reply

  2. Jessika Gosen
    Oct 03, 2015 @ 00:38:45

    I have PTSD; and am unfortunately still going through it, which makes it that much harder to manage. All those things you mentioned are things I struggle with. People would be surprised if they knew. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • gentlekindness
      Oct 03, 2015 @ 02:29:01

      It is hard to explain to people who have not had it. Sometimes people misunderstand our behaviors and our saying “no” to doing certain things…like when they invite us to go places with them.
      It can be frustrating and you can end up self isolating like I have done. I just got tired of people thinking I was. “Party pooper” or ” too good for them” ..because none of those things are the way I feel.

      Or I have been accused of being lazy, unmotivated or whatever.

      It is more important to be comfortable and to allow yourself a safe space for healing than it is too go along with other people just to keep them happy or to stay friends with them .

      There are people that do understand and will not judge you…even if you have to find them on here.

      For work purposes sometomes you just have to pretend everything is normal and put on a mask. That is frustrating and draining…but we have to eat and pay the rent.

      Stop by anytime to chat. 🙂 This is a safe space.

      Much love,
      Annie <3. gentlekindnesscoaching.com

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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