How to cope 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...

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!)

Appreciation

... so far everything I've read is helpful to me and I have been able to pass your words on!. I have PTSD...
I am hanging on to your every word! Right now you are my hero! I love how you write too!

- Catherine

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.)

Picture Quote: You really can overcome your fears and you can recover from PTSD

Coping with PTSD - you and your partner

Your feelings will have changed and your behaviour is likely to change too. These changes will have an impact on your relationship - so it's really important that you do your best to help your partner understand what's going on.

Maybe you...

... find it hard to get out of bed
... suffer from mood-swings
... appear pre-occupied
... seem to be less loving

If you keep communicating with your partner, he or she can put your behaviour into context.

If you were always 'the strong one' and you partner leaned on you - now is the time for him/her to step up to the mark. If it was the other way around, be sure that you access other support as well. Although it may be hard, you need to make an extra effort to develop your own coping strategies, as well as asking your partner for support.

The extent to which your partner feels able to support you depends on the quality of the relationship before the trauma. How well were the two of you getting on? How much did you rely on each other for support prior to the traumatic event?

If your relationship or marriage was already a little rocky before the trauma, I really encourage you to get help sooner rather than later, to stop things deteriorating any further. Also have a look at my page: Online Hypnosis FAQ, where you'll very likely find a download that is going to be of help to you.

Below is a video presentation from Wes Moore, a war-veteran, on what helps and what doesn't when you talk to vets about their experience in war-torn countries. His story could to some extent be 'translated' to refer to other traumatic experiences.

Could you cope with post-trauma symptoms without medication?

If you're sleeping badly, suffer from nightmares and haven't yet seen a doctor, I'd encourage you to make an appointment soon. It's likely that your doctor will prescribe some sleeping tablets for you. However, these will come with the warning to only use them sparingly - sleeping tablets won't work in the long-term. As an alternative, do have a look at my Natural Sleep Remedies page.  

If you're finding it really hard to cope, your doctor may also suggest you take antidepressants. A little note of caution on this - do make sure that you inform yourself really well about the dangers and side effects of antidepressants. If you don't have the capacity to look into this right now, ask someone you trust to do it for you.

Take a look at this video (it's less than 10 minutes long) for further information. The whole interview with Whittaker takes about 55 minutes, but at least this first part gives you - or someone else on your behalf - the gist of what you might want to familiarise yourself with.

so want you to be able to make an informed choice about this.

Antidepressants blunt your emotions, which affects your ability to connect with those close to you. They can cause problems with your desire, at a time when you're already less inclined to want to bother with a physical relationship. This can add another burden to you and your relationship.

For some people though antidepressants can be a life-saver - even if as a placebo. Have a look at the links below for more pages about coping with depression.

Are you doing all you can to avoid situations that could trigger your reliving what happened?

When you're dealing with PTSD you may find that you want to avoid anything that even remotely reminds you of the original trauma.

Avoidance is OK during the first couple of months post-trauma whilst you're recovering. But after that, you should start to re-engage slowly with everything that you've been avoiding. Otherwise you're slowly building another layer of distress on top of the original trauma. But you don't have to confront everything all at once - you can take it easy, and just go one step at a time.

Coping with such an aftermath of trauma means being gentle with yourself, but also being willing to challenge yourself step-by-step.

Finding the right treatment

Know that you can recover! You're very likely to need a professional to help though.

If you don't have access to good services when you're coping with PTSD, I'm afraid you're going to have to work even harder yourself. I hope to help you with that - you can find other resources on anxiety and depression on this site. Be sure to also visit my page on PTSD treatment (see links) and, if you're a man: Depression in men.

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Related articles

What Are the Human Givens?
These Are the Treatments for PTSD
How to Deal with a Birth Trauma
How to Cope with Traumatic Experiences
These are Signs and Symptoms of PTSD
Pro-List of Emotions and Feelings

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Elly Prior

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It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

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