Coping with PTSD is an achievable goal, even if the condition is a four-letter acronym that can be as painful as it sounds. I had heard of it before and knew others that had dealt with it. It was known yet a mystery. I didn’t know what it felt like. I figured it to be something akin to having a headache. Painful, but something that could be dealt with by taking an over the counter pain relief pill.
That is, until I experienced it for myself, and suffered with it. My father died tragically on me when I was just learning to be an adult. I was barely 19, it had just become the summer. I was looking forward to a great summer with my friends and my boyfriend of three years. Sadly, it became the darkest time of my life! The sun was out but my world quickly became cold and filled with nightmares! No fun, no warmth, just tragedy. I found myself indulging in excessive bouts of alcohol, and ending my relationship.
I couldn’t deal with life. Alcohol and smoking ended up being the only way I could survive. My mind was too covered with flashbacks of blood, and sometimes I was confronted by dark scenes in my imagination. It was something I never thought I would experience in my life.
Coping With PTSD: How I Was Struggling
This is when I learned about PTSD, even though I did not know what it was until after I began to feel better about life. However, I knew what it felt like without the official word that it is known by. It was more than just a headache, it was a pain that I still cannot describe in its entirety. The only word that can succinctly describe it in my mind is a nightmare. A long, long seemingly never-ending nightmare. A nightmare that you want somebody to snatch you out of. The reliving, the agony, the scene replaying over in your mind like a loop.
I tried to sleep it away, drink it away, eat it away amongst other things. My belief was that coping with PTSD meant drinking it away more than anything. I felt that without the alcohol, I would not be able to function. Sleeping didn’t help much, as the trauma kept me crying. I would have very vivid replays of the trauma. Somethings I would dream about would be much worse than what I experienced. I would wake up in cold sweats. Furthermore, I never thought I would smile or laugh ever again in my life.
I thought that someone would take me and lock me away for feeling so crazy on the inside. Cops were involved in some instances of my PTSD episodes because I just wanted to end it all. Nothing seemed to take the pain away. Sometimes the PTSD would relapse after what seemed to be a sense of calm. I couldn’t work or finish school because of it. It took over my life.
Coping With PTSD & Turning A Corner
I prayed and meditated, I went into a deep spiritual mode to try to get over it. This seemed to be the best way for me to pull through. However, it took me a long time to be able to get to this point. The alcohol consumption slowly but surely came to an end. I found joy again. I found counsellors that made me feel better spiritually. The sleep started to become more restful. I started to live and laugh. I smiled again.
After a few years, I found a job that I loved – working with women and children who had been physically and/or sexually abused. I worked this job for 3 years, the longest I’ve ever had employment. When I left, I went overseas for the first time in my life. When I returned, I met my husband and married him less than one year later. I eventually started my own business, and I teach classes and travel often.
I never thought I would be here, I thought life was over for me. However, after much perseverance, healing, struggle, and tears I found life again. For those suffering from PTSD, it may be dark right now, but darkness won’t last forever. It may not seem like it, but I’ve been through the darkness and now my life is brighter than ever. Hold on, if I can make it you can too!
For greater insight into interacting with those suffering from PTSD or if you would like to chat with others affected by the condition, I highly recommend joining the app, WeAreMore.