I understand that my case is personal to me but I still hope that others who battle any form of PTSD will be able to relate to this in some ways and anyone who cares about someone with PTSD will be able to take away something meaningful from this as well. I should probably state I have C-PTSD that stems from the way I was treated by biological family members. I’m sure that everyone is affected differently and it has a lot to do with what has caused it. So I can only speak from my own experience.
Your outlook on other people and your ability to build healthy, intimate relationships is severely impacted when your pain stems from your family; the people you expect to love you, support you, and take care of you. Having never had a sense of emotional security, I felt like I had to be on guard with everyone I met. I used to be baffled at how other people could make friends so quickly and easily. I always felt the need to work people out before deciding if they were someone I feel like I could get close to. When I think about my closest friends, I think about how we were probably casual friends for at least a year before I felt like I could really start opening up to them. They had to show me they were going to stick around.
I was constantly struggling with the thought that no one can be trusted and that everyone has selfish motives. I’m 25 now and these thoughts describe my mindset for as long as I can remember. To this day, I am mind blown when people do something loving purely for the sake of the other person. When I was struggling with coming out, I had relatives that I wasn’t particularly close to unexpectedly messaging me saying they supported me but my first instinct was “they probably heard about some family drama going on and were bummed they weren’t a part of it.” I freaked out because I didn’t know how they found out and they weren’t people I particularly had a close relationship with ever.
I felt like they unfairly inserted themselves into something so personal. But since then, I have gotten together with them a couple times and have had some of the most open, honest conversations I’ve ever had in my life with them. In such a short time, I’ve built a close, loving relationship with them. I was shocked and extremely humbled to learn that they were acting purely out of love for my sake. It’s something I will never forget.
My C-PTSD not only impacts my relationships but also how I go about my everyday life affecting everything from my job to small, tedious tasks. While in school growing up, I was never able to fully immerse myself in school work. I lived in an imaginary world inside my head that I created where I felt safe. I now understand that was a subconscious defense mechanism because I was too scared to be engaged in reality. Reality was where I had gotten hurt and I wanted to be removed from it. I am thankful to say I am at a place where I can do a much better job of engaging in reality because I have made a lot of progress and have genuine, loving relationships in my life. I’m at a place in my life where I can only manage simple jobs. I’m a receptionist at a rec. center and a waiter.
They’re not too demanding and the schedule is flexible with both. I can get through shifts although dissociating definitely tends to happen in the middle of shifts but that’s just a part of living with PTSD. I would say it happens a lot more at my serving job where I’m constantly moving around and interacting with people. If someone is upset, I do still subconsciously slip to a place where I’m happy and safe for the sake of getting through a difficult interaction or a stressful situation or whatever it may be. But I’m thankful to say I am at a place where I can manage things like this without slipping up and letting my mind get the best of me.
PTSD also has a considerable impact on your ability to manage unforeseeable tasks that unexpectedly pop up. Whether it be something significant like driving to work and your car breaking down and realizing it needs some rather expensive maintenance or even something a little less significant like a family member asking you to run an errand for them when you already have your daily routine planned out. No one likes dealing with unforeseen inconveniences but a person with PTSD has a very difficult time with tasks like these.
Depending on how busy their day already is and how stressed or tense they are at a given moment can play a part in how they will react to new tasks arriving for them without warning. On a recent Saturday, my dad asked me to mow the lawn within the next couple days. I started thinking about when I would be able to do it given everything else I had to do during those couple days and I immediately got so overwhelmed, all I wanted to do was lie down in a dark room and not do anything at all. I felt it was so unfair to give such short notice for that. Granted, it’s not a huge task but my mind is not wired to respond well to things like that.
Monday evening rolled around and I managed to do half of it but I was too overwhelmed to finish it. I didn’t get to the rest of it until that Thursday. I almost felt pathetic and sort of ashamed for a minuscule task like that to make me feel so overwhelmed and exhausted. But that’s the reality of what it’s like for me to live with PTSD. I hope others that live with PTSD can find some ability to relate to at least one or two things in this post that they can relate to. Also, I hope that anyone who loves someone who lives with PTSD can gain an insight into what everyday life is like for their loved one.
Anyone who lives with any form of PTSD can tell you that it affects them every moment of every day. Explaining how an individual is affected can be excruciating and feel somewhat impossible for many reasons. For an individual with PTSD to talk about how it affects them with someone who has no experience with PTSD, the individual who does live with PTSD risks misunderstanding, judgement, and invalidation. However, talking the effects PTSD has on an individual is essential for understanding oneself and for recovery. That is why I feel the need to make an effort to put into words the effects PTSD has on me however difficult it may be.
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