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by P.K. Philips

It is a continuous challenge living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I've suffered from it for most of my life. I can look back now and gently laugh at all the people who thought I had the perfect life. I was young, beautiful, and talented, but unbeknownst to them, I was terrorized by an undiagnosed debilitating mental illness.

Having been properly diagnosed with PTSD at age 35, I know that there is not one aspect of my life that has gone untouched by this mental illness. My PTSD was triggered by several traumas, including a childhood laced with physical, mental, and sexual abuse, as well as an attack at knifepoint that left me thinking I would die. I would never be the same after that attack. For me there was no safe place in the world, not even my home. I went to the police and filed a report. Rape counselors came to see me while I was in the hospital, but I declined their help, convinced that I didn't need it. This would be the most damaging decision of my life.

For months after the attack, I couldn't close my eyes without envisioning the face of my attacker. I suffered horrific flashbacks and nightmares. For four years after the attack I was unable to sleep alone in my house. I obsessively checked windows, doors, and locks. By age 17, I'd suffered my first panic attack. Soon I became unable to leave my apartment for weeks at a time, ending my modeling career abruptly. This just became a way of life. Years passed when I had few or no symptoms at all, and I led what I thought was a fairly normal life, just thinking I had a "panic problem."

Then another traumatic event re-triggered the PTSD. It was as if the past had evaporated, and I was back in the place of my attack, only now I had uncontrollable thoughts of someone entering my house and harming my daughter. I saw violent images every time I closed my eyes. I lost all ability to concentrate or even complete simple tasks. Normally social, I stopped trying to make friends or get involved in my community. I often felt disoriented, forgetting where, or who, I was. I would panic on the freeway and became unable to drive, again ending a career. I felt as if I had completely lost my mind. For a time, I managed to keep it together on the outside, but then I became unable to leave my house again.

Around this time I was diagnosed with PTSD. I cannot express to you the enormous relief I felt when I discovered my condition was real and treatable. I felt safe for the first time in 32 years. Taking medication and undergoing behavioral therapy marked the turning point in my regaining control of my lifeI'm rebuilding a satisfying career as an artist, and  I am enjoying my life. The world is new to me and not limited by the restrictive vision of anxiety. It amazes me to think back to what my life was like only a year ago, and just how far I've come.

For me there is no cure, no final healing. But there are things I can do to ensure that I never have to suffer as I did before being diagnosed with PTSD. I'm no longer at the mercy of my disorder and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment. The most important thing to know is that it's never too late to seek help.

Read PK's Story in a MyAJC article

"I'm no longer at the mercy of my PTSD, and I would not be here today had I not had the proper diagnosis and treatment. It's never too late to seek help."

Comments

I suffer from a complex version of PTSD and as of late my symptoms have been getting worse and more extreme than ever. I have been to my doctors and the only solution they can offer me is an increase in benzos and sleeping pills. In my opinion both are not something that l want since l already have a drinking problem and an addiction to benzo.

I was hoping to get some feedback, knowledge, information or insight into anyone that suffers from PTSD and if the use of cannabis https://www.bonzaseeds.com/blog/flo/ has been theraputic on helping lesson the symptoms?

I have attempted to find articles on the subject but the studies that l seem to have found are inconclusive to if cannabis is helpful to those that suffer from symptoms. I am at my wits end trying to find an option that will help me be able to cope day-to-day with my symptoms as they are impacting my life in a very negative way.

So please any knowledge or personal experience anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully someone will be able to steer me in the right direction so that l can better manage my health and hopefully start to live my life.

Cameron,
I found your comment while looking for ways to manage my depression, anxiety, and ptsd. I too drink too much. I went to therapy for 7 mo. To a great therapist, and that's when I learned I had ptsd. The therapy was great because I understand what's happening better. I smoked weed for 25 yrs, I'm 42 now. And for a long time I think it helped. But I have a sensitive mind and body, and it eventually turned on me. Basically it increased my anxiety suddenly. After yrs of anti depressants and off and on benzos.. I have come to the conclusion that there is no cure, only management. I believe that if I didn't drink, things could be better, but I'm sure you know how that goes. I've resigned to the idea of maintaining my dose of Effexor while using benzos when I have the most difficult times. If you've ever gotten off of them..you know they are horrible to withdrawal from. I guess what I'm saying, is that you are not alone. And it makes me feel better to know the same. I wish you the best, only you can know what is best for you. Take care, and keep fighting the good fight!

I too am diagnosed with PTSD and have had great success with cannabis as a medication. It helped me do the things I lost interest in. It helped me not be depressed. It helped me recall repressed memories. It really helped my recovery.

But absolutely at some point you have to stop. It does turn on you.

I pray that you get the help you so desperately need.

If you get a chance, please check out my new blog, www.refugeformisfits.com.

Hi Cameron,

Have you tried EMI (eye movement integration). I have CPTSD and it really worked for me!

Look I have PTSD to I know it’s hard marijuana help me with my PTSD so if you think that marijuana helps you with your PTSD. Then I suggest you do it if marijuana helps and calms you down and if marijuana helps decrease like helps you have less flash backs and helps your Ptsd then do it., try to stay positive tho if you start to get really negative thoughts change the negative thoughts to positive thought,. And pray for them to go away amen.!.

I have found Ketamine infusions to be the most beneficial for treatment of my PTSD and depression. I do not care for cannabis, so I don’t have anything to offer in that regard.

is beginning to strongly suggest that a lot of illegal drugs (LSD, mushrooms, ketamine) are incredibly effective and safe medicines for a variety of mental ailments, with a single treatment having effects that last as long as 6 months.

These are clinical treatments however.

I am a sufferer for years since my daughter died 26 yrs ago. I suggest you also find a good therapist as well. Trying this new legal stuff without someone to guide you isn't a good idea, it's super potent. it does help me quite a bit and I have to be careful of "over-use". The weed is only one means for relief, your mind needs all the help it can get...like therapy!

@marijuana

Smoking weed is sometimes helpful as it helps to gain a different perspective from time to time. But that new point can sometimes be both helpful or worsening. It never seems to help in the healing and just ends up being an escape tool. For me it helps me sometimes face my true emotions as they are usually trapped.

I go to AA. Substances arnt good. You don't want to take pharmacy drugs but you'd take your own. Addiction is a coping mechanism of cptsd. I also go to ACAC meetings. I find these very helpful. I'm completely abstinent from all mind altering drugs.

PTSD is a real syndrome that needs to have additional research and options. I am very sick. I have been diagnosed by a PhD psychotherapist and and MD psychiatrist. I currently take no medications, though I do attend talk therapy twice weekly. PTSD has destroyed my interpersonal life and family relationships. I am looking for support from this community or anyone. I was previously athletic, fit, and I am a young-ish female combat veteran. I want to regain my life.

PTSD is a monster that lives in the shadows of my life. Every time I think I have defeated the monster it returns at my most vulnerable moments.

I am untreatable.I have tried everything,and just diazepam,and abilify helps me to just do my housework.I am suspicious of anyone who reminds me of my past.Thinking outside of the box,leaving my comfort zone etc,does not work.Forgiveness does not work.SELFCARE WORKS,no matter who likes it.I sleep with my Bible under my pillow and it stops the nightmares.I can do one small thing per day,then rest.No movies,screaming,yelling,abusers or excuses.My boundaries are stone.The first word of abuse is the last.No councelors,just a shrink several times per year.To get medicine.We are all different.My ptsd came from the sins of others and being treated like a piece of property.I can go to ladies groups only.Church groups.Even there I get judged.It can be a sudden movement, a smell,movie,etc.and I am triggered for months.I am a victor,not a victim.No volunteering,just a small,simple life.

For the past five years I’ve been stuck in home trying to scrape by and struggle through my anxiety and ptsd.(with no prescriptions or therapy) It is aurguably one of the worst things to deal with since you are your own worst enemy, as opposed to cancer or lost limbs, or stacks of bills, or career issues. Your very ability to change perspectives and find strength in perspective-change is shattered if the anxiety and ptsd issues are frequent enough. I guess I am just trying to say it’s tougher every day as I start to see why suicide can occur as a result because the hope of a brighter day becomes dimmer with each trip you miss out on or social gathering or loss of normal function such as driving. We all know where we should be and who we’d like to be (what we and the world around us expects) and anxiety and ptsd issues can rob us of believing we are right where we need to be, and rob us of confidence we once took for granted. But there isn’t just hope, I disagree with some people whom say there is no cure just coping. And I can prove it. There’s always something, no matter how hard it is to find, that triggers desire. And there is no denying the power of desire. I’ve experienced this first hand, and suddenly when I want something terribly bad anxiety or ptsd doesn’t get in the way and is forgotten and not with me. But that’s easier said than done. Regardless it’s worth a try with even the smallest pleasures like setting up a relaxing evening for yourself in front of the television and your favorite snack. Or perhaps what worked for me is cooking. It’s very meditative with some smooth music and make some good food from scratch. Aside from this, when it comes to the chemical side of things, cbd oil has been of tremendous help for me, but only in consistent dosages once before bed under tongue around 5mg. Of course some do more but everyone reacts differently. But regardless best to start at lower dosages. Aside from all of the above, this may sound very generic or “korny”, but avoid at all costs negative people in your life whom put you down or place excessive pressures on you. After all it’s the general negativite events that got us where we are. Negative got us there, positive will get us out. Even if it’s accomplished one agonizing positive thought at a time.

I couldn't have said all this better myself.. I feel like ppl just don't understand what its like for us day to day especially my husband, that its a struggle.. you just don't know if your going to have the energy to do what you need to do that day or is it going to be your down day..your mind is always ready to go but your body does different.. Its just calming to read other ppl going through the same, because you all understand..

You are so right about people not understanding or knowing the struggles we face every day. I have many opinionated family members and friends that say its mind over matter. I would like for them to walk 1 day in my shoes, I am always waiting for the next rude comment to come out of their mouth. I am 42 and have been battling this illness as well as anxiety, depression for the better part of 30 years. It was just about 5 years ago I learned I had this illness. So for so many years I really thought I would never be "normal" what ever that may be really. I missed a lot of special things in my kids lives due to turning to alcohol to try and medicate myself into thinking I was just like everyone else. My struggles have been flared back up by several things that have happened over the last year. I am in the darkest of places right now and attempted suicide. I have never gotten to this point in my life where I felt this bad. I am going into get a new medication that will hopefully help and new coping skills. My story really could go on for days but for today I am glad I have your stories to read and comments because knowing your not alone does help.

I read your battle and just wanted to say Keep Fighting. You mentioned a suicide attempt and I pray you never get that feeling again. Please keep trying. PTSD is hard on all of us and we have to keep fighting. I lost my Dad to suicide and it’s by far the worse thing I’ve ever experienced and I can’t imagine what he was going through. I fight ever day to get through and be there for my kids and wife. Trying to do the same for myself. We all need to love ourselves and when I figure it out, I’ll share as I’m not stopping.

Saving Grace

January 12, 2019

In reply to by Nick

Hello, I was diagnosed with and have been battling delayed onset C-PTSD due to several traumatic events. My diagnosis was in 2016, but the symptoms started years earlier unbeknownst to me.The first traumatic event being the death of my mother, when I was 5 years old. I am currently 59 years old. I had no idea that trauma could be stored in the mind, body, spirit for such a long time.

What's helping me to recover is energy healing, meditation and practicing mindfulness, along with talk therapy and a low dose anxiety regimen at night.

This illness is by far my most challenging, but I am learning ways to help alleviate my symptoms. It is worth a try for those who have not tried guided meditation.

I believe in ot so much, I recently started working on putting together my own guided meditation that helps me and I believe it will help others. The music has helped a great deal to calm my mind.

For five years I had no idea I was struggling with PTSD. I am starting a new blog about my trauma and healing journey http://traumaqueenblog.com/. I am hoping to build a community of trauma survivors who have gone through similar events (EMDR, PTSD, anxiety, depression) in hopes of finding support and advice. Join me on my journey as I try to better understand my trauma and path to healing through personal blog posts, humor and hope at traumaqueenblog.com

I'm with you sister! For yours I've gone from one label to another. First I had anxiety disorder, then I was an ACOA, adult child of an alcoholic, then I realized I was married to an abusive alcoholic and I was co-dependent, then in my 50s after obtaining 3 college degrees, having a 25 year career as a counselor and social worker, I fell apart. I was also dealing with my sons serious heroin addiction. I started drinking to cope. And it didn't take long before I was now the Alcoholic, of course depressed as well. Recently, I turned 60 and my mother passed away Ali in the same month. I've been grieving and experiencing all kinds of emotions and had an ah ha moment that yes! There has been trauma after trauma after trauma in my life, and never was able to truly heal from one before another came along. I dealt with most if it by keeping busy going to school, working, working out, and not feeling. Now I'm really beginning to feel and its good and scarey at the same time. I am so tired of labels. I have been in tons of therapy and o. Various medications. I have to have hope and keep going but it's not easy. Never knowing if I'm going to be able to have the energy to do something. But I'm not giving up.

Hey. I liked reading your story. I really shows how PTSD can affect your life and how important it is to seek treatment.

Thank you for sharing your story. I am 42 years old and finally got in tune with my diagnosis. I was on and off with my therapy and meds. for anxiety and depression. I brushed off the latest one which is PTSD. I now understood why I fear everything, why I isolate myself from people, I have sudden panic attacks, why I am extra vigilant. I couldn't drive far from my perimeters. I lost my career and even my identity. I wonder specifically what behavioral therapy they gave you and what meds? How long did it take you to overcome it?

I am about to go for diagnosis of PTSD. Looking back at my long life I realize that I have had it all throughout my life but could not acknowledge that I had mental illness because I would have had my military career ended if I had admitted it to a Doctor. There was so much stigma..
I retriggered throughout my life by a series of unfortunate and unexpected traumas, one of which involved exposure to a serial killer in addition to a subsequent loss of my partner and my trust in him.
The PTSD was recently Retriggered again by breakins to my car. I don't feel safe and I feel rage. I am afraid of what I would do if I caught the culprit in the act. At the same time I am hypervigilent to the point of ridiculous. I hear a noise and I have to check my car. I have thoughts of uneasiness and fear the second the sun goes down. I live alone. I feel out of control and on a very slippery slope. I am going down.
Thankfully my appointment is 3 days away. I will be asking for help.

I have found no help so far. I am seeing a clinical social worker but I am not feeling any better. I tried some medications but all it did was make me gain weight. I stopped it because my weight has been an up and down yo-yo. I have gained 20 pounds and am panicking over that. Before taking Sertraline, prazosin for sleep, I was proud to say my weight was at a great number and I kept it off for over two years. Now I am struggling again to lose what I gained. It has caused my anxiety to be high due to my problems but have anxiety due to my weight. My weight has depressed me that I just think there is nothing left. I am homeless, broke, no transportation, and really have nothing but my geriatric dog to live for. I think if something happens to her I have nothing.

About 2weeks ago, Our car was shot up and my boyfriend died on the side of me. I'm only 19, Never experienced anything like this. Everyday since then, it's been Soo hard to even just maintain daily activities. I could never understand why this happened. He never got in trouble, loved his family, and stayed in church. Last thing I remember was him pushing me down and out the way. That is when he got shot. His mom was in the car too. Out of 20 to 30 rounds of bullets, he the only one got shot. It's like he took the bullets for us. I will never understand why, and I know you don't question God. So I am just thankful for my life and to know that my baby is stress free and in a better place. Tho I rather him be here with me. It's so hard to cope, I've been reaching out to anybody for comfort. I don't know what else to do. Please pray from me.#LongLiveDee

Just reading these posts is helpful . Each and every requires courage . To write AND read! Keep sharing ; keep caring . And when tears trickle or a light chuckle erupts feel safe ! It’s just us connecting again to who we were before ..... let the story fade and just be here now!

After what I have been through this winter I wonder if I will make it. A series of events triggered my PTSD and I have no idea how I have survived this past winter. I am about to be homeless and I have only managed to get by this past winter by taking a job I hated and living in a winter rental at the beach. I am 62 years old with no friends and no family for support. I realized that being around my family makes me feel out of control since that is obviously where my PTSD started from so I have alienated myself from them to protect my sanity as much as I can. I am scared all the time and feel confused and stressed most of the time. I don't trust anyone and I don't even want people to talk to me. I have avoided people as much as possible and I am about to go live in my car because I can't afford a place of my own and I can't live with other people. Their day to day dramas stress me out. I have thought about a homeless shelter but once again there are too many people there. I don't drink or do drugs because I need to be vigilant all the time. Those things mess with that. I feel as tho this may be my end game. I don't know what is next but I know I need some relief from the stress. I have harmed my mind and my body with all the stress. I am even afraid of doctors and therapists because I don't want them to tell me who I am or try to convince me that things are different than what I see in front of me. I am afraid of being brainwashed or manipulated.

I feel just like you do... C ptsd, live in a rental to avid homelessness. I am trying to get my truck driving licence to have job to work alone. Im 21 though and I barely stay above the water. Stay strong brother

I have C-PTSD as a result of emotional, physical and sexual abuse from age 3 -17.
At 50 yo I have just gained access, in Australia, to Medical Cannabis. I have 0.4ml CBD oil 3 times a day, 0.6ml THC Indica Oil before bed and the option to vaporize up to 2g of Indica Flower (18% THC) a day if needed.
I had been on numerous SSRI's and benzos before this treatment plan was put into place and still woke up each morning between 3am -7am at least 4 or 5 times and then got out of bed so anxious that I would dry retch over the toilet bowl for the first 10 minutes of each day. My day would then be lived perpetually feeling on-guard and defensive, in a state of fight or flight. Irrational thoughts, angry outbursts, guilt were all part of my usual day.
Drug abuse had been an early escape and was made easy by the fact that I still managed a successful career and never became addicted to the point that it damaged my chances in life.
When I started my cannabis therapy I was shocked at the speed of the noticeable differences in my life. I sleep through and only wake once if I need a pee, I don't dry retch on a daily basis anymore, I feel calmer, I can take negative feedback without getting defensive, I don't "explode" with rage - in short, I have a relatively normal life now.
Now don't assume that this has been without constant therapy with my psychologist, I will always need to speak through things with a skilled therapist but I will never need Valium, Xanex or Temazepam again!