Y’all, it’s gonna get real up in here today. Sister over here about to bust out the big words. So sit down and just let me write this here stuff down, and I promise I’ll break it all down in the end.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious, life-altering disorder occurring after a scary or dangerous event in a person’s life. As is the case with many invisible illnesses, there is widespread lack of understanding in regards to PTSD. Many believe that only combat veterans can have the disorder, and many others believe that, like depression, it is something that you should “suck it up” and just “think happy thoughts” to get over. Unfortunately for those who have to deal with PTSD on a regular basis, that not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
Let’s be real for a minute. No joking here. All bullshit aside for just a minute. The image below is a good resource for screening with PTSD. If you believe that you have PTSD, you may want to consider filling this out and bringing it in to a mental health professional who is familiar with PTSD treatment. I favor the Treatments That Work series. I have been in and out of therapy since my 20s. I am now 40 years old, and this is the first treatment that has ever been even remotely successful. It’s more work than I’ve ever put forth, but it’s worth it.
PTSD Checklist – Click to enlarge
Okay. Let’s break it down, y’all. Hyperarousal, a state of excessive responsiveness and heightened psychological stress, causes an increase in the levels of cortisol that is released into your body.
Now you’re sitting over there saying, “Sister, what the fuck is cortisol? Why you using all these big fancy words today?” Cortisol is a hormone released into your body also known as the stress hormone. It’s what triggers that feeling of, “OMG I’M GONNA FUCKING DIE!” feeling that goes off in your brain. Cortisol in normal amounts is a healthy thing. Your brain actually slowly releases cortisol to bring your body out of it’s sleep cycle at night. It’s what helps us wake up in the morning. Cortisol is what lets us know when something actually is dangerous. However, when there is too much cortisol being released into our body for too long we run a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, insomnia, obesity, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and a host of other illnesses.
You might be still saying, “Sister, I’m about sick of this shit today? What in the actual shit you talking about?” Real talk here. If you feel like everything scares the shit out of you and you always wanna be jumping out of your skin, that’s hyperarousal. Now we gotta figure out a way for you to stop doing that shit. I mean nobody wants to be scared all the time, and those of you who think it’s funny to keep scaring people all the time who don’t like being scared, I got one word for you.
Okay. Now that I got that of my chest…
There is treatment. There is help. You can overcome this. I’m starting to see this. I’ve been in therapy for two-and-a-half years now. I started off in anger management therapy with Counselor Dude, and now I see a trauma therapist where it was determined I have PTSD.
I won’t lie. The treatment is hard. It’s not just hard. It’s fucking hard. It’s the fucking hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but I see changes. Some days I even see the light at the end of the tunnel. My abuse started when I was three years old. A family friend who was living with us abused me sexually, and it’s something I have relived for decades. I have never been free of this. I am not free yet, but some days I can almost picture a time when I will be free.
So today in a nutshell… PTSD symptoms = nightmares/night terrors of an event that has occurred in the past, feeling like you’re reliving a traumatic event/events, flashbacks, feeling like you’ll never be free, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, agoraphobia, feeling numb, lack of ability to feel love for those around you, emotional avoidance, severe anxiety, avoiding thoughts about the event, or uncontrollable thoughts about the event. I could go on and on. Basically, if the event haunts you and you feel like it’s out of control, I urge you to reach out. Sidran Institute is an excellent starting point. Reach out. Get help. You’re not alone.
The Help Guide: PTSD and Trauma
The Help Guide: How To Help Someone With PTSD
Sidran Institute: Resources
Sidran Institute: National List of Trauma Treatment Programs
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255