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What Ptsd Is Really Like

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The Triggers Can Be Unexpected

What PTSD Is Really Like

PTSD symptoms are typically triggered by sensory reminders of the traumatic event. Besides Vicks, John’s triggers include the smell of wet grass, and children’s birthday parties. For Charlotte, being around raw meat being cut is a visceral reminder of her episiotomy , while Carole’s PTSD is triggered by waves, as well as everyday items like toothbrushes.

“You’d be amazed how many waves there are in films, or how the water falling into the sink can look like a wave, or the clouds can look like a wave,” she says. “My outstanding memory is of toothbrushes, children’s shoes and teddy bears being stuck in the sand.”

Knowing The Basics Of General Anxiety Disorder

Theres much more to generalized anxiety disorder than just a little anxious thinking and fretting now and then. Its characterized by an out-of-control anxiousness that occurs over six months.

People typically spend a lot of their days worrying about things they cannot control, which makes their work and relationships suffer. Worrying so much about something that is beyond their control causes them to waste their time learning how to handle the situation.

Tip : Deal With Volatility And Anger

PTSD can lead to difficulties managing emotions and impulses. In your loved one, this may manifest as extreme irritability, moodiness, or explosions of rage.

People suffering from PTSD live in a constant state of physical and emotional stress. Since they usually have trouble sleeping, it means theyre constantly exhausted, on edge, and physically strung outincreasing the likelihood that theyll overreact to day-to-day stressors.

For many people with PTSD, anger can also be a cover for other feelings such as grief, helplessness, or guilt. Anger makes them feel powerful, instead of weak and vulnerable. Others try to suppress their anger until it erupts when you least expect it.

Watch for signs that your loved one is angry, such as clenching jaw or fists, talking louder, or getting agitated. Take steps to defuse the situation as soon as you see the initial warning signs.

Try to remain calm. During an emotional outburst, try your best to stay calm. This will communicate to your loved one that you are safe, and prevent the situation from escalating.

Give the person space. Avoid crowding or grabbing the person. This can make a traumatized person feel threatened.

Ask how you can help. For example: What can I do to help you right now? You can also suggest a time out or change of scenery.

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How To Prevent Ptsd Flashbacks

Sometimes, especially once you understand what leads to flashbacks, you may be able to prevent some of them. The following strategies might help:

  • Be aware of your triggers, such as places, situations, people, and things that are likely to remind you of the traumatic event.

  • Pay attention to warning signs. Your flashbacks may seem random, as though nothing motivated them. But in many cases, there are warning signs, such as a change in mood or sweating all of a sudden.

  • Speak to someone you trust. You might feel hesitant to talk about your past traumatic experiences and the flashbacks youre having. Keep in mind that you can confide in others without rehashing all the details of your traumatic event. You can simply say how youre feeling. Consider talking to a friend, family member, healthcare professional, helpline listener, or support group member.

  • Take care of your health, such as by exercising, watching your diet, getting in touch with the outside world , and avoiding unhealthy coping outlets like alcohol and drugs.

Toxic Family Dynamic : Parentification

This Is What PTSD Really Looks Like

Parental guidance and protection are crucial in developing a sense of safety and foundation within our psyche. Some parents, however, cannot provide this due to insufficient emotional resources. If this is the case, the parent-child roles are reversed the child becomes the parent, and the parent becomes the child. This parent-child role reversal is known as parentification, which can form a toxic family dynamic.

Generally, there are two types of parentification. Emotional parentification happens when the child becomes the parents emotional support. This could occur when a parent shares the innermost details of their anxieties and worries with the child intimate details the child is really too young to process.

Instrumental parentification is when the child engages in physical labor and support in the household, such as doing the housework, cooking, cleaning, taking care of younger siblings, and other adult responsibilities.

Of the two types, emotional parentification has the direst consequences in terms of childhood development. In psychological terms, it is considered a form of abuse, exploitation, and neglect that is difficult to respond to. Some experts even call this emotional incest.

Dissociation is the common response of children to repetitive, overwhelming trauma and holds the untenable knowledge out of awareness

Judith Spencer

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How Is Ptsd Diagnosed

A psychiatrist will diagnose PTSD through a mental health assessment. Your GP should carry out an initial assessment to decide what care you need. Your assessment should include information about:

  • your physical needs,
  • your social needs, and
  • risk.

As part of the assessment they will decide if you need to be referred to the community mental health team . You should be referred to the CMHT if you have had symptoms for more than 4 weeks. Or your symptoms are very bad. A CMHT is part of the NHS. They are a team of mental health professionals.

Doctors use the following manuals to help to diagnose you:

  • International Classification of Diseases produced by the World Health Organisation , and
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual produced by the American Psychiatric Association.

The manuals are guides which explain different mental health conditions.

Impact Of Ptsd On Relationships And Day

PTSD can affect a persons ability to work, perform day-to-day activities or relate to their family and friends. A person with PTSD can often seem disinterested or distant as they try not to think or feel in order to block out painful memories. They may stop them from participating in family life or ignore offers of help. This can lead to loved ones feeling shut out.

It is important to remember that these behaviours are part of the problem. People with PTSD need the support of family and friends, but may not think that they need help.

It is not unusual for people with PTSD to experience other mental health problems at the same time. In fact, up to 80 per cent of people who have long-standing PTSD develop additional problems – most commonly depression, anxiety, and alcohol or othersubstance misuse. These may have developed directly in response to the traumatic event or have developed sometime after the onset of PTSD.

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Ptsd Sufferers Carry A Lot Of Shame

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that you’re unstable, volatile and likely to react violently at any second,” says sci-fi author Devon C Ford. He suffers from PTSD after being attacked at an English Defence League protest, while working as a public order police officer. “I’m very used to mass disorder and thought I was bulletproof. Physically I’d been hurt way worse in the past, but this incident was different I just tucked up into a ball and literally waited to die – like I knew it was going to happen,” he explains.

“If I’d come back to work with my arm in a cast I’d have been a hero, but because I came back with a non-visible injury I was weak and to be avoided. That was basically the end of my career in the police,” he adds. “I’ve spent years getting over the shame of having mental health issues, and I’ve genuinely had someone usher their child away from me when I’ve mentioned it – as if I’d admitted to having just come off the register or something. It’s embarrassing. I just wish people would treat it as it is – it’s an injury, not a weakness or a madness.”

I Stopped Talking To Anyone I Had Associated With The Event

What It Really Feels Like to Have CPTSD

I stopped talking to many people after that summer and made sure no one could contact me. I avoided doing things that reminded me of the event and the people involved. I deleted all of my social media accounts and used every unhealthy coping mechanism, even going through the mental gymnastics of denial to avoid processing the event. Id always been avoidant, but my avoidant tendencies became extreme.

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What Can I Do If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment

If you are not happy with your treatment you can:

  • talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
  • ask for a second opinion,
  • ask a relative, friend or advocate to help you speak your doctor,
  • contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service , or
  • make a complaint.

There is more information about these options below.

Treatment options

You should first speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you are not happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.

Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you are not given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it is not suitable for you.

Second opinion

A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis.

You dont have a legal right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.


An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.

There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like.

You can find out more about:

I Began Having Nightmares

The strange dreams began about a week after the trauma occurred. At that point in my life, I wasnt someone who had many dreams or remembered them. However, following the trauma, I hated sleeping because sleeping meant potentially re-experiencing the trauma that I was trying so hard at the time to deny. I would often wake up in tears, not knowing why I was crying or what I had dreamed about. Other times, elements of the trauma would be wrapped up in a bizarre dream world. I remember one dream I had so vividly: hearing a conversation that occurred the night of the trauma, and in another dream, sometimes specific memories would replay. It felt like everything inside of me was screaming at me to acknowledge what had happened.

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People With Ptsd Often Feel Unlovable

D. is beautiful inside and out. Not only is he strikingly handsome, he is smart, caring, and compassionate. But he didnt feel he was deserving of love, or even remotely loveable.

Traumatic experiences, in addition to being scary and impacting our sense of safety, very often have a direct effect on our cognition, says Irina Wen, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone Health.

Usually those effects are negative. As a result, the patient might start feeling undeserving and unlovable, or that the world is a dangerous place and people should not be trusted, she explains.

Over time, these negative thoughts become generalized so that negativity permeates all aspects of life. They can also carry over into a relationship.

D. would often ask me what I saw in him, how I could love him. This deep insecurity shaped how I treated him, with more reassurances without prompting.

D. needed a lot of time and attention from me. Because he had lost so much in his life, he had an almost controlling grip on me, from needing to know every detail of my whereabouts and having meltdowns when the plan changed last minute, to expecting me to be loyal to him above my own parents, even when I felt he didnt always deserve it.

In believing that he was unlovable, D. also created scenarios that cast him as such. When he was angry, hed express it by taking horrific jabs at me.

The Five Stages Of Ptsd


According to Australasian Psychiatry, over 1.15 million Australians or around 4.4% of our population experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder each year, and that number is set to rise to rates higher than ever previously reported.

The groups of people in our community with the highest rates of PTSD emergency workers and Defence Force personnel were those called on in 2019 and 2020 to provide the bushfire response and assistance during COVID-19 quarantine and lockdowns.

While these rates are expected to increase within these careers, the percentage is also increasing among health care workers who were quarantined. These pandemic heroes are now suffering PTSD at higher rates than the general public, due to the impact of COVID-19.

Due to the traumatic events we are all seeing in our lifetime, the prevalence of PTSD in Australia will only increase.

PTSD has long been associated with armed and emergency services, but we are finding that so many more everyday Australians are now dealing with the consequences of traumatic events, resulting in more and more PTSD, says Dr Anja Kriegeskotten, The Banyans Health and Wellness Consultant Psychiatrist.

Added to this is Australias increase in mental illness in veterans, who currently suffer PTSD at rate of 17.7% in the four years after discharge.

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The Wound Of Being Too Intense

What is Toxic Family Dynamics? Toxic Family Dynamics come in various forms and can damage a childs development in visible and invisible ways. Some of the toxic family dynamics that sensitive/ intense children can get locked into include: Having depressed or emotionally blank parents, having controlling parents, enmeshment, having to step up as little adults, having to face parents envy, and being scapegoated as the black sheep. On this page, we will explain these dynamics one by one, and explain how they can cause Complex Trauma or Complex PTSD.

What is Complex PTSD?Complex trauma, or Complex PTSD, results from a series of repeated, often invisible childhood experiences of maltreatment, abuse, neglect, and situations in which the child has little or no control or any perceived hope to escape. Growing up in an environment full of unpredictability, danger, parental inconsistencies, or emotional abandonment, these individuals are left with hidden traumas that disrupt not only their psychological but also neurological and emotional development. These invisible forms of trauma is what we call Complex Trauma, or Complex PTSD.

What Can Trigger A Ptsd Flashback

It can seem like PTSD flashbacks occur randomly for no reason. But, they can be triggered by people or situations that remind you of your trauma. You may or may not realize a situation is a PTSD trigger.

Examples of triggers that may start a PTSD flashback include:

  • Seeing someone who looks like or reminds you of your perpetrator

  • Driving or walking past the place where the traumatic event happened

  • Watching a TV show that brings back memories of the event

  • Having a conversation that brings up memories of the incident

  • Reading certain types of books or listening to certain types of music

For example, a news report of a natural disaster may trigger a flashback of when you experienced a tornado or severe storm. Or, the anniversary of an event may trigger unwanted memories of the trauma you endured.

Flashback triggers are unique to the individual. Its important to try to understand your triggers so you can better cope with them. Keep in mind, however, you might not be able to identify what causes your flashbacks.

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Tip : Anticipate And Manage Triggers

A trigger is anythinga person, place, thing, or situationthat reminds your loved one of the trauma and sets off a PTSD symptom, such as a flashback. Sometimes, triggers are obvious. For example, a military veteran might be triggered by seeing his combat buddies or by the loud noises that sound like gunfire. Others may take some time to identify and understand, such as hearing a song that was playing when the traumatic event happened, for example, so now that song or even others in the same musical genre are triggers. Similarly, triggers dont have to be external. Internal feelings and sensations can also trigger PTSD symptoms.

Support Is Important For Recovery

What CPTSD is Really Like

Many people experience some of the symptoms of PTSD in the first two weeks after a traumatic event, but most recover on their own or with the help of family and friends. For this reason, formal treatment for PTSD does not usually start for at least two or more weeks after a traumatic experience.

It is important during the first few days and weeks after a traumatic event to get whatever help is needed. This may include accessing information, people and resources that can help you to recover. Support from family and friends may be all that is needed. Otherwise, a doctor is the best place to start to get further help.

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Read: Trauma Counseling 101

Again, the common thread is ones exposure to a distressing incident however, individuals must also must meet specific criteria before they can be officially diagnosed with this disorder. First, one must have experienced actual or threatened death, injury, or sexual violence in one capacity or anotherthis might be a first-hand, personal encounter or their witnessing of said trauma as it happens to another individual. They then experience a number of symptoms such as recurrent nightmares about the traumatic event, flashbacks to the event, and intense psychological distress when reminded of the event. Additionally, the individual goes out of his or her way to avoid stimuli related to the trauma and experiences harmful thoughts as well as negative moods.

But aside from this diagnostic criteria, aside from all the technicalities what does it truly feel like to have PTSD? To live in the aftermath of experiencing an extraordinary degree of trauma?

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