my experience of PTSD – 3

one of the main issues of PTSD is that it makes you stuck in your own head. the illness becomes so overwhelming it can be a very scary place to find yourself at…the first reaction i’ve had was trying really hard to control my behaviour.  it doesn’t work with PTSD. because i intellectualise everything, i then started compulsively looking for reasons and explanations for this scary beast that took over my life (which also happened to be in my own head). as much as that’s needed it also can be dangerous as you might end up having a lifestyle of ‘not-doing’. since PTSD can manifest itself in anxiety and panic attacks you can start avoiding any potential of getting anxious. in my case, i ended up avoiding pretty much everything. and i started over-thinking everything. it literally got so intense i just stopped doing basic things because i was thinking too much about whys and hows. i still do it, but i found recently that doing stuff almost automatically can help with the recovery process. when you ‘do and then think’ type of thing. while it might not be useful for impulsive behaviours, it’s extremely helpful for other more routine activities. recently, i started kicking myself out of my flat and go to places where i could sit down and draw. i would not have a reason or purpose to this action apart from just getting out of the house. being a control freak that i’ve become after years of trying to suppress my emotions doing something without a purpose is a massive challenge. but it’s worth a try. i started pushing myself into doing things i know i like doing. at first, i struggled with the concept of ‘no purpose’ but, eventually, i could see the positive results. on one hand drawing allowed me to get out and do things. and also, it made me feel better about myself. i love the process of drawing and also while you practice drawing you develop your skills. needless to say, this particular activity made me feel better on both practical and emotional levels. another activity i found useful is exercise. the true magic starts happening when u are doing something and forget about everything else. i found this is possible when i create (e.g. draw) and when i exercise. i’ve started doing some yoga exercises, and even though at first i felt very panicky about being with other people, eventually i managed to relax because my concentration shifted to the exercise itself. once you get sucked into a process, you can’t help but forget about anxiety…and that’s how you take control over anxiety. the first time this happened, i was smiling to myself for another hour or so. it is extremely empowering. being mentally present ‘in the process’ is probably one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. and it is extremely beneficial for mental health. so if i were to give advice, i’d say find something that can ‘do this to you’. but obviously don’t spend too much time thinking about it. ;) even just cooking for yourself a variety of meals (which then leads to finding recipes, looking for ingredients) can make you your more focused on the present, and ultimately push you out from your overanalysing head. you can spend hours and hours thinking about your life and that can make you almost inert. thinking about big things, like my career and future still makes me extremely panicky. so i guess i started off with being 5 again. i try to not worry about future, take one day at a time, play, and not force myself into anything i really don’t wanna do (try forcing a 5-year-old). so far, it works. i know this type of attitude can’t last forever (trying to not panic about this) and it’s just one tiny step, but i feel pretty happy about the fact that i CAN make this one tiny step. it confirms my mantra that ‘it WILL get better’.

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