When I wrote my suicide survivor article a few weeks ago, I had no idea I would go from a suicide survivor to PTSD diagnosis so easily. Although the likelihood you or a loved one will develop PTSD from any traumatic event is small (6.8% according to a 2020 Psychology Today blog), it is important to recognize the symptoms.
WHAT IS PTSD?
The acronym stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It was first brought to light in 1980. Yet, some World War I survivors in the early 20th century were known as suffering from “shell shock”. Today, we realize it was PTSD.
Although the trauma typically associated with PTSD is extreme, as in combat, it can also occur from many other types of trauma, such as long term abuse. This Psychology Today article covers the basic information about PTSD in much more detail.
HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE?
Complex disorders like PTSD have a long list of possible short term and long term effects. The full list is included in another article.
A PEEK INTO MY THERAPY SESSION
As you might imagine, my therapist (I’m using her first name, Mary) asked me questions, allowed me to ‘tell my story’, took notes, and led me down the path of discovery.
When I used trigger words, like shame, she asked me where I thought that came from. I’ve been on my own path of self-discovery, so sometimes her questions were easy to answer.
“Shame was instilled in childhood by my parent,” I replied.
I continued my stories, clearly illustrating my PTSD symptoms with flashbacks followed by sudden emotional outbursts that I quickly quashed. There were many more nuances of my illness that Mary picked up on.
Near the end of the session, she took out a small book, which was a pocket handbook of PTSD symptoms. Reading each one, she noted her observations that matched my exhibited behavior. Thankfully, I didn’t exhibit every single symptom.
A huge sigh of relief escaped my body.
I had found the right therapist, there is a name for my suffering, and we will work together on a solution.
HOW IS THIS THERAPY SESSION DIFFERENT?
Unlike some therapists I’ve had in the past, Mary got to the root of the cause quickly. As I pondered the session this week, I believe there are a few clues about why this therapy session was more useful vs. past less useful sessions.
- I understood I had a problem.
- I’ve allowed my intuition to guide me when I faced my sudden teary outbursts over the last few weeks rather than stuff down my emotion.
- I acted on my perceived problem.
- Writing about the teary outbursts in an earlier blog resulted in research, which brought me to a suicide survivor group. The facilitators recognized my PTSD symptoms and recommended I seek out a therapist who specializes in trauma therapy.
- A search on Psychology Today led me to a local therapist who specializes in trauma and PTSD.
- Finally, I was ready to acknowledge my true condition in order to grieve and come out of this.
- My openness, honesty, and choice to not hold back during the session have developed over many small steps of journaling, seeking holistic and spiritually based avenues to peel away layers of self protection.
This list illustrates, in the bullet points, how small steps are truly the key to developing a life of fulfillment.
This opportunity to share parts of my mental health journey is too precious to ignore. I invite you to join me as I move beyond viewing this week’s reality from a suicide survivor to PTSD diagnosis. In contrast I want to also share the many everyday discoveries that make us smile and keep us moving forward in difficult times.
By signing up for my newsletter, you will always receive the information in my blogs along with glimpses into more joyful moments of my life.
Hanging in there,