By Elly Prior (About)
Counsellor, Founder and Author of Professional-counselling.com
How to with PTSD - even if you can't get treatment right now
A trauma 'in your head' can feel like a trauma 'everywhere'. When you're dealing with PTSD, unfortunately you just can't get away from it. Wherever you turn and however much you try to avoid being confronted by it - it's just always there.
I'm so glad you've landed here because I can give you a list of strategies to help you cope. I'll be here with you, so read to on find out how to deal with PTSD.
Self-diagnosed or diagnosed by a professional?
If you haven't been assessed by a mental health practitioner, this should ideally be your very first step. It's entirely possible that you have many of the symptoms of PTSD, without actually having the disorder itself. In any case, the sooner you get a professional on your side the better. Unfortunately there are often waiting lists for treatments.
If you don't have 'classified' PTSD this does not mean that your suffering is any less than someone with the actual disorder. On the contrary - it's possible for you to feel worse and still not have PTSD.
I do want to reassure you right now though - it's very likely that you will recover - ultimately eventually even without intervention. Nevertheless, you can find out more by hopping over to my page on PTSD Treatment. I'll still be here when you come back.
What you can do to help yourself when you're suffering from post-traumatic stress
10 Tried and tested coping strategies for when you've been traumatised
Here are some ways in which you can help yourself when you're dealing with PTSD...
- Learn as much as you can about the condition, whether or not you've been 'officially' diagnosed. When you know what you're dealing with it's easier to explain it to others - particularly your partner, family and friends. That will make it easier for them to support you.
You can speak with an online counsellor right now to talk about what you're going through.
- Consider your life-style choices. I know it sounds boring, but your body and mind are such valuable resources. We often look after our cars and homes better than we look after ourselves.
- Keep a journal. By writing things down, you can dissociate (disconnect) yourself from the material - even if just for a moment. You can also chart your road to recovery, because recover you will! Oh... and don't forget to write down every day three good things that have happened that day.
- Consider joining a support group - either on-line or in your locality. Be aware though - you may not be up to dealing with other people's distress! Nevertheless - that sense of community can really help you beat the depression that goes hand-in-hand with the trauma. (See also my page on natural depression treatments.)
- Whatever you do - don't lock yourself up. Be sure to connect with nature - it will help to calm you. Go for walks, volunteer at a local park or animal sanctuary or start a gardening project. Stay connected in particular with your family and friends. All the research shows that good social support really helps with recovery.
- Keep an activity diary - it's only by connecting to your environment and people close to you that you'll find a way out of that dark place. I know you might not want to, because it's too hard, or you feel like can't be bothered. But please trust me when I say it is vital that you keep connected. For further information about the need to connect see my page on the human givens (links below).
- Set small short-term goals, commit yourself (however difficult) and go for it. I'm sure you already know that you won't recover by sitting on the couch on your own.
- Make a list of all the things you used to enjoy and revisit them. Decide which one you're going to focus on and make a small start with that.
- Work on medium and long-term goals. Let someone close to you help you set these goals. It can really help to have someone who keeps you accountable for your progress.
- Having a great hobby or interest can be really helpful in keeping your self-esteem alive. If there's a subject you're very knowledgeable and passionate about, it may appeal to you to have your own website (I built this one myself!)
What about your relationship?
I suspect you have become, very understandably, very wrapped up in how you're feeling and what you're going through. However, if you're in a relationship or are married, you'll need to pay particular attention to what's happening between the two of you. I'd therefore recommend you have a look at my review of a really effective marriage repair method developed by one of my colleagues.
(If your partner has already left, then find out how you stand the best chance of getting back together.)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can have a huge impact on your relationship. Come with me now to Part 2 for more on post-traumatic stress and your relationship. We'll also have a look at finding the right treatment for you.
Go right ahead and comment (please keep it short)!
I'll do my best to offer a few words of comfort.