Wait, What? I still have PTSD

I wrote a post by the same name last spring. Amazingly, I asked this question to my therapist again the other day, nearly a year later and my reaction was exactly the same when he answered, “Yes, you still have PTSD.”

The past year has been a whirlwind of powerful and positive changes in my life.  My son got engaged and we were over the moon excited for the wedding. Until she broke his heart, thankfully before the wedding. After nursing his broken heart, he is again happy and thriving. My daughter, who has struggled so fiercely, is happy, in a good relationship, excelling at the University, and is realizing that she is the intelligent, insightful woman that we all see. I have come to a place where I have processed and accepted my past (most of the time). I have a huge toolbox of distress tolerance tools and have gotten the answers to the big questions that were hanging out there in my mind. I’m also very fortunate to do some marketing for two wonderful small business owners who understand my limitations and often require only 1/2 hour of work per week. These are wonderful, exciting, sometimes painful strides, and I make sure and acknowledge how the past few months have propelled my trajectory of healing.

So, why do I still have symptoms of PTSD? Why do I still have flashbacks, why am I still triggered by certain sounds, why can’t I make my brain concentrate for more than two hours at a time, without it shutting down and becoming so overwhelmed that I begin to decompensate? I mistakenly thought that just like when I had cancer, and five years later was declared cured and a survivor, that when I got to a certain point in therapy, I would be pronounced cured of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s how I approached therapy from the beginning. My therapist, nor anyone else put that thought in my mind, and I never really talked about it, I just thought, Oh, I’m sick, I will do this thing called therapy, incorporate all the tools I’m learning, and then I will be cured.

For me, however, that is not going to be the case. I have some long-lasting effects from the trauma I endured. From the reading that I’ve done the past few months, and the understanding I have about the extent of my trauma, I’m still going to have PTSD. I’m not intimating that this is a forever illness, I don’t know what the future will hold. But I have accepted that even when therapy stops (or if I need the occasional tune-up) I’m still going to suffer from symptoms. When I was talking to my son about this yesterday, he looked at me and said, “you wouldn’t expect someone in a wheelchair to stand up and walk just because they are done with physical therapy, would you?” I replied, “of course not!” I wonder, is it the invisibility of my illness that makes me so uncomfortable, or is it that I have an illness that makes me so uncomfortable. Maybe both.

When my therapist and I had a talk last Friday, and he answered my question with, “Yep, you will still have PTSD when we are finished working together.” I was disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed that I was nearing the end of intensive therapy, I was disappointed because I wanted to hear you’re cured. The same words my oncologist said to me just a last year ago.  My therapist took a lot of time and patiently, once again tried to help me accept that some wounds are extremely slow to heal, but will heal

I have to keep reminding myself that I am working hard to heal and it’s not anything I did or am doing to cause these symptoms. I’m not perpetuating them, I am living with them. When I lose sight of this I find myself getting very angry at my PTSD. Well, to be honest, I’m often angry at it, which detracts from the reasons I have it and can interrupt my healing process. When the anger and frustration well up, and starts to boil over, I make myself stop, sit down, reflect, rest and try to focus on the goal of what I want for my life. I can acknowledge my progress, watch my children fly from the nest and make adult lives for themselves, and feel good about my ability to contribute to a life I want to have, and still, understand that I have this invisible illness of PTSD.



Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph



37 thoughts on “Wait, What? I still have PTSD

  1. Thank You for commenting. I think your therapist is great with the honesty. I, too would rather have honesty than pie-in-the-sky expectations. It’s certainly a journey and a process, isn’t it.


  2. I’ve had similar conversations with my therapist. “Do I have to keep living this over and over forever?” She tells me, “I don’t have a crystal ball. You may struggle with depression and PTSD your whole life. But you have already developed so many skills, and you are continuing to strengthen your self-care. I think you’ll find both the frequency and severity of episodes will go down. And you’ll know what to do when you have an episode.” It’s not a happily ever after ending she’s promising me, but at least I find this believable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We are survivors, thats for sure. I think one of the hardest things I deal with day-to-day is accepting my diagnosis and not being so mad at PTSD. Sometimes Im sure that acceptance would make my life easier. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can relate to this post. I didn’t realize that I went into therapy thinking my therapist could cure me of my PTSD until I read your words. I’ve had it for a little under 2.5 years and it hasn’t gotten any easier, though I have coping mechanisms and breathing techniques to help when my brain goes into flashback or panic attack mode. I got diagnosed in college and no one in my family knows (don’t trust them to handle it well). I’ve been wanting to write about it but can never find the words. You said everything I wish I could say. Nonetheless, we are survivors and we will thrive.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And here’s the kicker: you have PTSD because you are a SURVIVOR. Survivors catalog and learn from their experiences as a way of self-preservation. That is supposed to be a good thing…Guess Mother Nature underestimated our ability to blow each others’ minds…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Wait, What? I still have PTSD | Tiny Cabin On The Move

  7. I was abused as a child/teen as well. And I can relate to this feeling of disappointment and the ups and downs of the healing process…like, wait, what? I wondered if I could contact you privately, but I don’t see a place on your blog to do that. Would that be ok? You can contact me through my blog if you don’t want to post an email here. Thanks for considering this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This field was intentionally left blank

    Thank you so much for writing this! I’ve been struggling with PTSD for almost seven and eight years now (I’ve been diagnosed with both the “conventional” type and the cumulative type) and it can be a monster for me, activating when I least expect it, without any regard for what I might be doing or where I might be or who I may be with at the time. It’s a mean Mr Grinch.

    Because the source stressors have dissipated, I thought that maybe it may have “worn off” by now, too. But nope. It lurks in my shadows, waiting for the perfect time to strike.

    I wish I had an answer or a solution, something to make it all better. 💐 But alas, I don’t. I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone and that your son sounds absolutely amazing, and that I (gratefully) heard your voice.

    Look like a lot of great people are walking beside you. Please consider me one of them ❤️

    Hugs offered if you like them!
    ~The Silent Wave Blog writer/Laina 🌟

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Very well put Alexis because PTSD, along with other mental illnesses, don’t appear on the surface to other people. I have come a long way since I was diagnosed with PTSD from my ex husband (I was abused mentally, emotional, physically, sexually) and secondary PTSD from my son (he was abused) but it does take baby steps because I still have triggers that pop up and send me into an emotional state. They don’t come as often anymore because I have done a lot of healing just in the last two years. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thank you for sharing this with me. Its amazing how many of us are on the healing journey. Im so glad to hear the strides you made with the hard work. Its amazing how hard we have to work. Thanks again for your support. Have a good evening! 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for sharing your experience with your mental health illness. I have suffered from Generalized anxiety and off/on depression my whole life. The one thing I learned long ago, for myself, is that my illness will never be gone. I have learned how to manage it, and I function in life better because I have worked hard, but I still have anxiety. I understand what it’s like to compare my mental illness to physical illness’ I’ve had in the past. With the physical, you do what you need to do to heal, and then you are cured. It feels that mental illness’ should work the same, but they don’t seem to. Lots of love to you today.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What a wonderfully, insightful comment. And your’re right, if someone has DID that can make things even more complicated. One alter may be fine, the other having a really hard time of it. Thank You for sharing your insight. We are, for sure, fellow warriors on a healing journey. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  13. PTSD and therapy can be like a netted bag of onions. You work hard peeling off the layers of one onion and reaching the middle expect to be so much better, only to find you have more onions to peel.This is especially true if you have DID I find. One alter makes considerable progress but then another one comes to the forefront requiring acute care. And, it seems like it is a bottomless bag of onions at times. People, who often mean well, inquire whether you are doing better. How do you answer? Its up and down and depends on the day. They can be disappointed and certainly we are disappointed. The thing is to not let this turn to shame. Because we are warriors that fight real battles every day. Depression, anxiety, flashbacks (with vivid scenes and sometimes just phantom feelings), dissociation may be foes we face every day. Some days we gain ground in this war and other days lose ground. And then there are those blessed days where we are free of symptoms and can rest. A temporary cease-fire has been called. But, all too soon, we find we must take up our sword and battle again. We need to focus on the ground we have gained and have hope. Just some thoughts I wanted to share with a fellow warrior and wishes for some good days. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. unfortunatelyolivia

    such a great post. PTSD is something that i’ve been struggling with for about a year now. it’s really hard for most people to understand what it is like to live with the flashbacks and anxiety that comes with it. seeing how strong you are gives me hope. x

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank You so much. I love your insight! Awareness is a huge part of recovery. It doesnt always feel so great, but I would much rather live in the truth. Have a wonderful evening!


  16. “I wonder, is it the invisibility of my illness that makes me so uncomfortable, or is it that I have an illness that makes me so uncomfortable. Maybe both.”

    That right there. PTSD and other mental health issues are so tough in part because they are so elusive. No one else can SEE them. We can’t track our progress as clearly as a physical illness. It’s uncomfortable still with the stigma as well.

    This post is excellent – you have a lot of awareness and that’s a huge part of the recovery so if you can, at least celebrate that!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you for sharing. Yes, flashbacks are so frustrating and they can hit out of nowhere. It is a long and never linear road, but the fact that we are on it walking the healing journey is Huge!! 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I am 14 months post first flashback; when it seems ok. Bam….not so much anymore. So I’ve had to come to the realization that it can hit hard again out of nowhere and I can only do my best. It is a long road, and I understand the anger completely. You’re not alone ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  19. dbest1ishere

    I totally understand what you are saying with this post. Even though I know my PTSD will always be there, that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to disappear forever. It’s hard to think we are going to have this forever and that is part of the reason I am so beaten down at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

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