Trying to find some way to cope. Knowing that you might have PTSD. What the hell does that mean anyways? Am I sick? Am I broken ? Is there something wrong with me?
I am still me!
Even though it might not feel like it at times, I am still me! No-one and nothing can take that from me. But the way I'm feeling, the things I see, the way I respond to crowds, the way anxiety gets to me, that's not me. But I will have to deal with it every day.
I'm pretty sure I won't be able to do this alone. Thats why I am so happy with my family and loved ones. They support me, and help me however they can. Taking care of the kids so I can have some time alone. And just being there to talk about all the crazy really helps. Especially my wife, she has been helping me with everything. She's even helping me in getting my story on here. She is the one who helps me keep on doing the things that terrify me. Thanks to her I am still excercising, going running and swimming regularly. I think that without her I would have made a ton of different choices once I "started going crazy".
When I didn't want to swim or run, my wife is the one who kept saying: "Just go, it will make you feel better and once you're back you'll be glad you went." (And don't tell her, but most of the times she's right.)
We all need someone
One of the first things you hear when you learn you might have PTSD, is you have to talk to someone. I think this is so highly underrated. Just being able to open up to someone explaining what happened to you when you went grocery shopping. Or what happened when you just saw a car speed by. That just makes a ton of difference. So if you're in a similar situation. Find someone and if they are there for you, hold on to them and let them in. It makes a world of a difference. They don't have to understand what you're going through. They don't have to know all the bad details. As long as you can share some of the massive burden on your shoulders, and they are supportive, it's worth it!
Talking about it also helps people understand. Not all of it of course, but it gives them a peek inside your brain. And you will need people to understand. Especially those people close to you. If they understand, they will be better equiped to help or leave you alone when needed.
Besides people to talk to, you will need ways to keep yourself busy. Seeing as most of the time, some if not all of these symptoms prevent you from working, you will need some form of a normal schedule. My way was making music video's and since recently writing a blog!
Write a Blog?
Well yeah write a blog, that's what I'm doing, but why would you write your deep dark secrets down? First of, writing everything down, is just for you. By writing, you might be able to get certain thoughts out of your head. I'm not saying it's for everyone, but right now, this helps me keep my demons at least somewhat at bay. It also gives me a way to explain what is going on with me as I see it. And what I feel, what I see. It's already written down, so if someone wants to know how I am coping or dealing with everything, I just point them here. It saves me the horrible experience of sharing my feelings over and over again. Especially because talking about my feelings and the things I see bring them back up. The second reason why I started writing was because of the way I felt when this all started. I felt alone in all my emotions, I didn't know there were so many people Experiencing Anxiety, Flashbacks and Panic Attacks. That's why I decided to share my story and show the ones feeling alone that they are not alone. That I experience Flashbacks, Panic Attacks and anxiety and that I can't control my emotions either. I wanted to give a positive spin on all the bad stuff and try to help others. Always the policeman I guess.
First of all, it wasn't easy for me. And I only recently found the courage to start.
I just started writing about my first breakdown. And once I started, it got easier to keep on typing. I didn't want anyone to read it though. Unnoticed by me, I laid everything bare in my writing. So having someone read your innermost thoughts felt very vulnerable. Then I let my wife read it, and it helped her understand more about me. That's when I decided to place it online. That made it a bit safer. No friends and family to read it. Just total strangers. After a while I started sharing my story with my family, and so far I'm still very glad I started this. And even if my story only reaches one person who needs to hear and see they are not alone, I'll be happy! That's how writing became another coping mechanism for me, besides the Youtube Channels.
So I might have PTSD, now what?
To get back to my journey. I finally had some notion about what it was, that was bothering me and turning my world upside down. Then comes the search, what is PTSD? What causes it? How do I, and the people close to me handle it? And most important, how do I get rid of it....? Searching on Google, gives you a lot of scattered information on multiple platforms. I tried to compress the most important bits in the Frequently Asked Questions tab on this site. For me the most important part was trying to explain to my 2 kids what daddy was going through in such a way that they would understand. Because they mean the world to me, and my frequent emotional outbursts affect them most of all, because they don't know why.
How to explain PTSD to a child
"Technically," post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder caused by actual or threatened death, major injury, sexual violence or extremely traumatic experiences. It affects the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex and is linked to physiological changes in the brain. PTSD is caused and influenced by biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Although there is no medical cure for post-traumatic stress disorder, it can be treated.
This is a good definition from a scientific and medical textbook. Telling this to a four- and six-year-old is likely to confuse them even more. Even if you try to explain this to a grown up they probably won't be able to fully comprehend it. I initially scoured the internet for any PTSD resources I could find because I was absolutely bewildered, terrified, and hopeless. Reading forums, discord servers and blogs from people helped me relate to other people's PTSD tales. But I still had to figure out how to explain this to my kids.
I tried explaining that daddy has seen a lot of bad stuff while working. And that now, once everything gets a bit much, that daddy sees the bad stuff again. That makes daddy very sad, and sometimes very angry. And my wife came up with an excellent way for the children to know if daddy was feeling sad, or not. My wife bought this octopus. It has 2 sides one sad and one happy. It lets the children know when daddy needs to be left alone and when daddy feels good enough. They focus on the octopus and it gives them some clarity. Even though they often ask me why the octopus is still feeling sad and if they can turn him inside out.
Now I have a supporting wife and loving children who at least know when things are good enough and when things are bad. They still don't understand everything, but it makes me feel a little bit less guilty, when I feel bad. No one will ever quite understand the full spectrum of PTSD unless they live with someone who suffers from the symptoms that PTSD brings into their home. Although there is no current cure for PTSD, there is recovery and remission of such symptoms. Finding ways to handle the bad stuff and building a support group of your own will help you immensely.