Learning to live with, not fight against my symptoms

I’m in the throes of fighting against my PTSD symptoms. I’m extremely angry at them at the moment. There are some things going on in my life that I want to change and my symptoms are preventing me from making the changes in a way that makes me feel useful.

I want to stop the flashbacks, hypervigilance, anxiety, depression and other assorted symptoms of my PTSD. When I finished therapy last spring, my therapist helped me understand that I was still going to be living with symptoms. He felt that I didn’t  need therapy any longer because I had reached a point where I had processed the memories, worked through the feelings, and emotions, and had mastered the distress tolerance tools I had learned over the course of the 8 years we worked together. He did the best he could to help me understand that I would still be quite affected by symptoms, that it was okay, that I was okay, and that it was because of the effects of the trauma. I didn’t like hearing that but was determined to find a way to live with my symptoms. Maybe we could form some sort of symbiotic relationship?

I want to work! I want to be able to work more than two hours a day without my brain getting overwhelmed and shutting down. This is a symptom that I fight against continuously. I have the wonderful opportunity to do some marketing for two wellness centers. I’m extremely grateful for this work and the very generous owners. Most of the time, I can accept that this is what I’m able to do right now. It’s not much, but it keeps me employed in a way that helps them, and brings me contentment. The other day,  a friend looked at me and said, “you’re underemployed!” Immediately, I felt the tapes of worthlessness, laziness, can’t get better, begin to play and my fragile balance of living with my symptoms turn into a self-esteem fight.

I’m also fighting against the fact that for me, there are triggers, triggers everywhere. I was asked to go on a night hike in a beautiful snowy field the other night with a friend who I know always has my back. The sky was clear and it was one of the serene landscapes. I saw the dark woods surrounding the field way off in the distance, and my heart and head panicked. I wanted to go, to ignore my symptoms, but my panic took over, and I heard myself saying, “no, I’m scared” over and over again. I was so mad at my symptoms.

These are just a  couple of examples that have been front and center this past week. These incidences put me into a fight-zone with PTSD. It’s not useful, nor helpful and really all it does is exasperate all my symptoms.

Recognizing that I’m frustrated right now creates some space and gives me the room to name it, rail against it for a moment (if I really feel the need) then rest and move back into acceptance. I’m still a work in progress and rarely lose hope that things will get better. They are already better (different)  than they were six months ago.

But right now…I’m in the throes of fighting against not living with my symptoms.

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

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44 thoughts on “Learning to live with, not fight against my symptoms

  1. Thanks for sharing your struggles, it takes a lot of
    Courage to admit and confront these struggles. I hope you will continue to fight and am very encouraged by your post to continue to be open about my own mental health!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tiffany, thank you so much for your bravery and sharing this with me. You are definitely doing the best you can, and finding the comfort you need at this moment in time. Triggers are so hard and they DO come out of nowhere. It feels so debilitating at times, and its so uncomfortable sometimes to ride those waves. You are a light in the world and you are worthy of a happy, content life. Im so glad we’ve connected. Holding space for you in my heart. ❤️

    Like

  3. Alexis,

    I admire and appreciate your courage, honesty, bravery, and humility, as well as, some of the others that have spoken here who face these issues, these illnesses. It is not easy. What I have found that makes it even harder for me is the unpredictability of it all. Out of nowhere, it will strike. I could be happy singing one of my favorite Christian songs and bam! I am hit by the mack truck of depression. Outside I was having a cigarette and a kid goes by and I want to hide to be invisible. It is not the shame of smoking where a child can see me that causes this but a trigger of my childhood catching up to me at 47. As far back as I can remember I was bullied. Bullied, harassed and even beat up because I was different, dressed different, just different. Maybe it is why I became a people pleaser instead of pleasing God. I never used to be scared of kids. What adult is normally afraid of kids? An adult who never dealt with years of bullying and abuse. Once I started a brief stint of therapy last year was when it was told me that I had PTSD. So now not only do I suffer from major depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, but I have what I thought was only for soldiers. WTH!
    Had a great opportunity to work for the post office and get health insurance which my husband and I desperately need and a pension and retirement plan which the company that he works for does not offer. But guess what? This girl didn’t make it past one day of actual training. I woke up with my first really big bad panic attack and resigned. Since then and a skeleton coming out of the closet I have images flashbacks I guess that add to my lovely fairy tale life.
    With that said, I share this with you and all so that we can all support one another and to say that even though we have these illnesses there is still hope. If I did not have God, did not believe that he is real and in our world regardless of what others say, I would’ve been dead. My second attack in the past couple of months brought me to the darkest place that I have ever been since this all became more profound in my life and it is the closest that I have ever come to wanting to not give up and run away but give up completely because the images would not go away, the feelings of shame and dirtiness would not go away. I have always believed that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem and felt so much sorrow for those felt that they had no hope and now where to go to end their life so abruptly, but thanks to God as I see this now as a blessing in disguise, that he brought me to this point because now I really can relate to the drowning feeling that those who have ended their lives felt and maybe I still don’t fully grasp it but I definitely can say that it scared me. Hope that makes sense.
    love and blessings to all,
    Let us face this together.
    Tiffany

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The time of year is so tough! I am sorry you are fighting so hard at the moment! Sending you positivity, hugs and a huge amount of hope to keep you moving forward. I also wish the same for everyone else struggling at this time of year ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. PTSD is a challenging entity to live with, but you are doing a Damn good job. Reading your post brought me back to 2012 (the year I started blogging) when I was struggling with my ptsd full force and could barely get myself out of bed at 4:30 pm to work for two hours. I can definitely relate you and your frustrations. Living with body memory, triggers, flashbacks, depression and everything else feels like carrying a heavier load than we were built for, but you are doing this and more. Healing is a process and you are on the right track.
    Stepping away from therapy is a huge Step I remember feeling like it was a break up. And I am so sorry your friend made that comment about being underemployed. Don’t worry about that. You are doing the best you can and that is what matters.
    Every day is bringing your further away from the trauma that you survived. Hang in there. I am sending you great big *Hugs*

    ❤ Alana

    Liked by 3 people

  6. PTSD is the gift that just keeps on giving . . . trouble with family, trouble at work, trouble at home . . . it’s just so thoughtful it just keeps on giving, especially around the holidays. Damn, I wish it wasn’t so generous!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. dealing with it is firstly recognising it’s destruction which you do by just writing this out. I am praying for you that the bad triggers don’t get removed for they may grow back again like weeds but it gets replaced by good memories, and forever leave your soul. I totally understand where you are at and am keeping you in my thoughts my dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank You so much for sharing with me. You have brought tears to my eyes. You are an incredible survivor and your words today have touched me in a place that needed validation (although Im sorry that you struggle too) Im extremely grateful we are in this together. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such is the life of one living with PTSD. No matter how much therapy or what the course of action, it’s a constant battle. Some days are better than others, and we may even experience prolonged periods where we function “normally”, but then, snap. Something sends us reeling toward the ground once more.
    Life like this is comparable to the roller coaster I wrote about in one of my blogs. YIKES! I don’t like roller coasters.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I am in a similar spot right now, trying to move on. Some things happened that would drag me backwards. I had to say to myself – Cut yourself some slack, baby steps, celebrate the small victories. Cutting myself some slack is a major hurdle. I am cheering you on as you cut yourself some slack in the areas you need it most.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I can totally relate. I have many medical issues left behind from my fight with cancer. I also have PTSD. A result from the trauma I endured not only from cancer but a very emotionally abusive boyfriend. I still have nightmares, a simple thing like a song will trigger me in to a deep depression. I can no longer work. Don’t beat yourself up! The fact that you can work two hours is awesome!! Don’t worry about what other people think. It’s none of your business. PTSD is real and unless a person has experienced it they have no idea what you’re gping through but I do. Hang in there. Thank you for sharing. Your story is hope for me and others. We are in this together

    Liked by 5 people

  12. I understand this completely and I am sorry that you are suffering with all of these symptoms right now. I have better days than others but this time of year all hell breaks loose in regards to my PTSD symptoms. They are so hard to deal with, please hang in there.

    Liked by 3 people

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