What is PTSD?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder characterised by failure to recover after witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event. A psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who once had experience or witness a traumatic event such as natural disaster,a serious accident, terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other personal violent.

PTSD has been known by many names in the past such as “shell shock” during the time of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II but PTSD do not just happen to combat veterans. It can occur in all people, of any nationality, ethnicity or culture and age. It can affect people who personally experience the traumatic event, those who witness the event or those who pick up the pieces afterwards such as emergency workers and law enforcement officers. PTSD can also result from surgery performed on children too young to fully understand what is happening to them.

Following a traumatic event, almost everyone experiences at least some of the symptoms of PTSD. When your sense of safety and trust are shattered, it is normal to feel unbalanced,disconnected or numb. It is very common to have bad dreams, feel fearful or find it difficult not to think about what had happened.  These are normal reactions to abnormal situations.

For most people, however, these symptoms are short-lived. They may last for several days or even weeks, but they gradually lift. But if you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the symptoms do not decrease.  You don’t feel a bit better each day, instead you may start to feel worse.

Symptoms of PTSD

While everyone experience PTSD differently, there are four main types of symptoms :

  • Re-experiencing the traumatic event through intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks or intense mental or physical reactions when reminded the trauma.
  • Avoiding and Numbance such as avoiding anything that reminding you at the trauma, being unable to remember aspect of the ordeal, a loss of activities and life in general, feeling emotionally numb and detached from others and a sense of a limited future.
  • Hyper arousal including sleep problems, irritability, feeling jumpy or easily startled, angry outburst and aggressive, self destructive or reckless behaviour.
  • Negative thought and mood changes like feeling alienated and alone, difficulty concentrating and remembering, distressing and hopelessness, feeling mistrust and betrayal, feeling guilt, shame or self-blame.

However, PTSD in children, especially very young children, the symptoms are differ form the ones in adults which may include:

  • Fear of being separated form their parent
  • Losing previously-acquired skills (such as potty-training)
  • Sleep problems and nightmares
  • Somber, compulsive play in which aspects of the trauma are repeated
  • New phobias and anxieties that seem unrelated to the trauma (such as fear of monsters)
  • Acting out the trauma through play, drawing and stories
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Aches and pain with no apparent cause

Triggers

Things that can suddenly remind people of their trauma are called triggers. It can bring up stressful feelings or cause them to have flashbacks which means they feel like they are reliving the event all over again. Trying to avoid triggers is a normal reaction, it’s normal to stay away from things that cause you stress. But because of this, you may feel that you can’t do things you used to enjoy and this may be hard on you and your family.

It is important for people with PTSD to help their family understand PTSD because they may not always know how to respond when they see you hurting. Instead they may feel scared, sad, guilty or even angry about your situation.

Talk with your family especially with your children about your triggers. They need to know what causes you stress and makes sure they understand that they aren’t to blame for your PTSD.

Some common triggers include :

  • Places, social events or even smell and sound. For example smoke may trigger memories in someone who was hurt in fire, or car that backfires may remind a veteran of gunfire.
  • Being around others with who were involved in your traumatic event, this may happen when veterans have a reunion.
  • The anniversary of your traumatic event. Try to plan some enjoyable activities on and around the anniversary date. It may be help to be with friends or family.

Coping with Holidays

People with PTSD change after a trauma but everyone expects you to remain the same. Up until the day of the trauma, people around you have expectations for who you are, how you should behave and handle your trauma, what you will and will not do, and that you will make choices in alignment with their agenda. The stress and pressure of these expectations can be overwhelming, especially over the holidays.

A season of expected joyful conneWaysction is particularly tough if you are depressed, sleep-deprived, anxious, trigger sensitive and struggling to supress uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and memories.

Big holidays like Christmas and New Year can be stressful. Those holidays can be a painful reminder of past times when life seemed better. Big groups of family and friend are often part of holidays, which make this stressful because :

  • They tire you out or make you overwhelmed
  • You feel pressure to join family activities when you feel you’re not up for it
  • You feel like you have to act happy when you are not

Your loved ones might also ask questions about your life or about PTSD which may lead you to an uncomfortable feeling to answer those questions. But keep in mind that your family and friends may feel some of the same pressure.

Ways to avoid PTSD stress when you’re on Holidays

It is impossible to avoid the holidays altogether but having a plan for being in control of how you experience and manage them can be a big difference. You can :

  • Set limits by planning ahead. Maintain a sense of control and balance by choosing what you will do, how, when, in what way and with whom. Do not join activities for longer that you can handle. Put in place boundaries that support your choices and share this decisions to the rest of the family or friends so they know and understand your game plan.
  • Have an exit strategy. The best way to go into commitment is knowing you can get out. Take a break, go for walks or set aside a place you can be alone for a while. This can keep you from feeling overwhelmed. You even can get plenty of rest or take a nap if you feel you’re not have enough sleep at night.
  • Say NO. It is not your job to make everyone happy. Your number one task is make yourself on as even a keel as possible. To ensure your safety and to stay on your path to healing. It is absolutely OK to refuse requests or to modify your willingness to positively respond to them.
  • Do it your way. Friends and family might have their ideas about how and when and for how long each get together occurs, but you have the right to choose your level of engagement. For each event that you agree, ask yourself this question “what do I need to be able to manage this?” Then choose the most healthy options and implement regardless of how others respond. (For example, in the middle of a big family dinner you need 10 minutes alone to meditate and ground yourself, take the break even it will raises some eyebrows)
  • Be real. It is true that you can’t go to every party or family gathering with an enormous frown but you don’t have also to be the life of the party. Find a place of neutral that feels comfortable. Offer a smile, but stay within a true range of how you feel. Talk to your friends and family. Be honest with them about your stress, they can help you.
  • Just look at the next five minutes. Holiday season and each individual gathering can stretch out over the net month like a very long and steep road. Stop looking ahead. In every minute, focus on just the net five minutes. Keep your vision rooted in the present to reduce anxiety and conserve energy so that you spend your inner resources where they matter as often as possible.
  • Not drinking too much. Alcohol may make your symptoms worse or cause you trouble with your friends or family.
  • Finally, consider to make a visit to a health clinic and see if they have someone (or something) for you. Hydro Medical Bali provides first aid not only for physical but also mental illness. Don’t let your relapse ruin a long-planned holiday, take care of yourself and heal your inner self with a good counseling with our experts.

All year your friends and family have watched you struggle. They have, or in some cases have not, offered to help, support or accept the way your past continues to affect their presents. Holidays and PTSD are tough. But they are also a good place to explore, discover and identifying yourself of who you are and what is important and meaningful to you.

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