Being diagnosed with PTSD might be leaving you with a load of different emotions. Maybe you are relieved to finally be able to put a name to what you have been feeling. But maybe you are also feeling scared about what this means and how you might be able to cope going forward.
PSTD, which stands for post-traumatic stress disorder, is a type of anxiety which has been caused by a very frightening, traumatic, and stressful situation. It’s likely you’ll be feeling on edge and finding it difficult to relax as your mind is processing what has happened.
Here are some tips on what to do now…
Be gentle on yourself
Your brain is working very hard right now to try to help you feel safer. Try to give yourself a break and be less harsh on yourself. It’s OK if you don’t manage to keep up with everything at the moment.
Sleep might be hard at this time so if you notice your sleep is being affected by distressing thoughts and nightmares try to get other types of rest. For example, take breaks where you lie down and close your eyes without feeling the pressure to have to fall asleep. Little breaks will help give you the energy to get through the day. You could listen to music or put on a familiar movie to help switch off your brain for a bit.
We all breathe to stay alive and do it without even thinking. However, when we start to panic, often our breathing can change and start getting faster with lots of small breaths. This is a sign that your body is starting to take over and you may be starting to hyperventilate. It might feel really scary but trying to take long slow breaths will distract your anxiety and allow you to settle and feel calmer.
Find connection in other people
When you’re feeling very anxious isolation can make you feel way worse. Try to stay connected with people in your life so you’re not alone with your thoughts eating you up. Just having that supportive healing space can help, even if you don’t feel ready to open up.
Journal how you feel
Writing about how you feel in a private journal can help many people feel that they’re releasing their thoughts. There is something about getting those distressing thoughts out of your head and onto paper (or the computer!) that can feel a relief. Just remember to hide it or password protect it, or you could destroy it straight after.
Learn about PTSD
Try to do some research to find out about what PTSD is. This learning will likely help you understand why you might be feeling like this and help you make sense of how you might be coping.
Recovery from PTSD is totally possible. You may recover on your own as time passes. However, you may want some help along the way. The NHS usually recommends medication and counselling treatments. Through processing your memories with a professional, over time, any flashbacks or nightmares will gradually fade away.
Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.
Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.