Wednesday 12 December 2018

My Experiences with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In this blog, Emily writes on her experience of trauma and PTSD
CN: discusses difficult topics. 

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be caused by a wide range of traumatic experiences, either through being involved in or by witnessing traumatic events. 

You can find out more about the causes, symptoms and treatment for PTSD either on the Mind website, or the NHS website. This blog is going to explain my personal experience with PTSD and how I have dealt with it. 

My PTSD has been caused by an incident I was involved in six months ago which has left me shaken and shocked and scared, but it also happened at the worst possible time. I was about a week away from taking my final exam at university and it was the day before the Swansea Student Media awards evening, which I had been looking forward to for months as it was my final opportunity to attend the annual event. Despite the incident happening six months ago, I have only recently been in discussion with my doctor about PTSD because I didn’t realise that the incident was still affecting me so much, because I’ve been so distracted with everything else. 

Looking back, I don’t think I managed my emotions effectively, shortly after the incident. Even though I am pleased with myself for not completely shutting down, I wish I’d taken more time to let myself feel a bit more. Saying that, in the days after the incident took place, I didn’t get through one day without crying at least once and I learnt that that is normal and completely okay. However, I was also so focused on my exam and what to do after university that I totally pushed the incident out of my mind. 

Recently, I was triggered by something so badly that it was as though that incident happened yesterday, and I was more shaken up by reliving the whole thing all over again. 

Being diagnosed with PTSD has meant that I’ve had to learn to acknowledge what my triggers are and then how to calm myself down if I experience a trigger. This is by no means easy, but it’s a learning process. Not having the focus of university or the support that I had at university has been something that I’ve found difficult with this whole experience. However, one thing that I have found that helps me is to explore the topic of PTSD through creative writing. Furthermore, confiding in people about my struggles and about the incident also helps. 

What I recall from the blurry days after the incident, one of the things that really got me through those difficult, emotional days was the support of people around me at university. I almost considered not attending that awards ceremony but I had people there who made me feel comfortable and safe which I will always appreciate. I also had support and belief from those around me that I could push through and do my final exam and while I didn’t do as well as I wanted to do, I passed and at my graduation in July, I was able to say that I didn’t let that incident get in the way of my goal of graduating. 

This experience has changed my perspective on life significantly. Not only has it taught me that I can get through almost anything, it also taught me who my real friends are. I also learnt that after a traumatic experience, one’s emotions are likely to be all over the place for quite a while afterwards. Like with any mental health difficulty, PTSD takes time to get through and you may find yourself experiencing triggers and flashbacks years down the line. It’s important to recognise these triggers and to know how to deal with them. 

My name is Emily (Em). I have recently graduated from Swansea University with my BA degree in Modern Languages, Translation & Interpreting; I was also passionate about and dedicated to Swansea Student Media and the University students’ newspaper – Waterfront. I blog for Student Minds because I have experienced mental health issues as a student and now as a graduate, as well as other health issues, and I support friends who also have mental health difficulties. I am a passionate writer and writing has been important in my mental health experiences – both in helping me to explore and to cope with my mental health, as well as sharing my story in order to help others.

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