Not everyone understands what it’s like to live with PTSD. In fact, I myself didn’t understand what that meant for most of my life even though I’d been diagnosed with PTSD by the age of 13. It can be a hard thing to grasp.
Living with PTSD is like living a nightmare at times. And, it’s not just because of the symptoms themselves. Some of the symptoms that I have are flashbacks, hypervigilance, a lack of trust for other people, nightmares, anxiety, fatigue, feelings of guilt and shame, an inability to relax, plus much, much more. The thing about it is, that for me, when these symptoms arise, and they do every day, almost all day, they produce a feeling of helplessness and lack of control, which is a trigger in and of itself.
I’ve learned that part of being a trauma survivor is learning to live with the aftermath of it. For me, that is the PTSD and Dissociative symptoms. I’m having to learn how to cope with life after trauma. It’s hard. And what makes it even harder can be ignorant comments from other people. I’ve been told numerous times from people that I need to “move on”, or that my past “doesn’t define me”, and stuff like that. Well, as I said before, most of my symptoms are out of my control. So telling me to “move on” only makes me feel like a failure or like I’ve done something wrong when I haven’t. Also, telling me not to let my past define me also makes me feel guilty for having PTSD symptoms that are out of my control. While it’s true, that my past doesn’t define me, it does affect me, every minute of every day. So these types of comments only make me feel worse, not better, and bring up feelings of helplessness and even panic.
The truth is that I don’t think many people fully understand PTSD and how it affects a person, even if they have it themselves. It’s really easy to suppress or repress those symptoms, or to ignore them or the feelings that come along with them. I know, because that’s how I survived for years. But in the long run all those repressed emotions contributed to depression and long term health issues. So today I try not to stuff, repress/suppress, or ignore my emotions and PTSD/Dissociative symptoms, even though it might make life easier if I did so.
That’s where I think these move on comments come from. I think that a lot of the people who say this are ones who either suppress/repress or who take out their emotions on everyone around them rather than experience it themselves. Or, maybe they just have never been through the magnitude of the trauma that I’ve experienced, meaning that they can’t relate to me at all. I think “moving on” is usually a term used to ignore experiences or avoid them in some way. At least that’s how I’ve approached it in the past. And I’ve found that for me to be very unhealthy. So, instead I’m learning to cope with life and everything that comes with it, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Yesterday I found out that our cat Tempest is in the beginnings of kidney disease. I had a bit of a meltdown last night over this and just life in general. It was messy, but I got through it. I’ll continue to try with this life thing even when it’s hard. And, I’m going to live life as genuinely as I can.
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