Nightmares Relived: Life with PTSD

Posted by Lisa Stevens on

I told you that I would write about the different diagnoses that my psychiatrist gave me when I went to him. I wrote about the first one, Bipolar....and a little about the second anxiety, which I am not sure if it was an actual diagnoses or just a side effect of the other diagnoses.....but either way, I did write about that a few weeks ago. 

This next one is a big one, not one I will share a lot about....but one that I feel still needs to be shared. I have been diagnosed with Chronic PTSD, or Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Chronic stands for long time or recurring, and PTSD which is defined as a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. I will not be going into details about the how or why I have this disorder…which began during childhood, but I will explain a little bit of how it affects my daily life now, as an adult. 

One of the main symptoms I have experienced and am now on medication for, is nightmares, reoccurring vivid renditions of the traumatic events. The medication has helped a I am so glad for that. But sometimes the pills can not keep away the feelings that surface during the while not vivid nightmares, I still have the feelings associated with the trauma, which can be just as disturbing. 

Another symptom I experience is intrusive thoughts or images while going about my day. They just appear and while I am learning to shut them down/push them aside, sometimes it is hard to do....I try and keep myself productive during these times, I play my music loud and hope to drown out the thoughts. And sometimes I just let the thoughts take control and know that for the time being I am out of commission for going forward with my life. It is like I am at a stand still...until I can get the thoughts under control. 

I wonder how much my anxiety plays a role in this disorder. The idea that I have anxiety about things that a "normal" person would find silly, often makes me wonder. If not for the trauma, would it even be an issue? I have not discussed this yet with my psychiatrist, so I really do not know the answer to that question. I am just speculating. 

I am also told my suicidal thoughts come from my bouts of depression from bipolar, but can also be attributed to my PTSD as well, both cause depression as well as the suicidal thoughts. So, lucky me, I get a double dose of the downers. 

I also have a very hard time with my memory. Long term and short term. I do feel bad for people I have known for a long time when they try and reminisce with me about events or adventures we had when we were younger....usually I do not remember them at all, not even vaguely. Same goes for short term memory....I can forget what I am doing as I am doing it. I also have a hard time remembering words during conversations, I did once think this was just getting older...but after being diagnosed with both of these disorders, I believe it is a combination of all three, age, bipolar and PTSD. 

One of the "fun facts" about PTSD is that it can actually accumulate when another event occurs that either is close to what you experienced the first time, or brings on the same feelings. Then, that event becomes a source for PTSD. Sometimes they are called triggers, but now the trigger actually triggers both events, that can be pretty hard to handle. 

I actually just experienced a very hard weekend, because of several triggers that resulted in me crying most of the day for 3 days, questioning my relationships and life in general. These times are hard on me...but they are also hard on my family. No one can understand the torment I feel when I feel I "should" be able to hold myself together during these times, I put blame on myself and plead for them, Ben especially, not to hate me for what I put them through. I know the truth they actually show me the deepest love they have in these times.  But I am sure it is not easy for them, not knowing how to help me...when I feel nothing will help....but time, and following the advice of my psychiatrist, getting out with friends and not letting myself be burdened by my own thoughts. Last night, after spending time with good friends, I do not feel the pull to depression that was there so vividly for days. I am also sure it was helpful that we (Ben and I) personally reached out to Facebook land and finally asked for help. This whole ordeal (not just the PTSD but the overall mental health issues) is not something we can do alone, it is too much to bear. The words of encouragement, the positive vibes and the love that was shown was unbelievable. We are so blessed to have so many people in our life who love us, and are willing to be a part of the circle we desperately need. 

I feel like I could go on with this, but I think I feel I have said enough. As my psychiatrist says, You do not, under any circumstances have to share details of what happened with anyone, ever. No matter who asks, it is none of their business. But I did want to share, with you my readers, for the same reason I share case my story helps someone else. In case hearing these symptoms triggers in your head that maybe, just maybe there is a reason for what you are enduring. And if just one person goes for help (that is available) then it was worth opening up my soul to you, once again. 

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  • Hey Lisa, it’s Monika :) I have similar PTSD issues. I always wondered why I don’t recall much from my general past (long and short term) but definitely specific details. And I understand the “I’m sure this is not normal” thoughts/feelings. Just checking in to say, I hear you. I empathize and sympathize. I wish I were closer and could offer to be a part of your circles. I’m sorry you’re struggling, and I want you to know you are loved, just as you are! If I can ever lend an ear… please know I care, and I get it. Likely to a lesser degree than you’re enduring. But I get it. Hang in there! Love you!!

    Monika Stebel on

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