PTSD: Real experiences, powerful stories, courageous conversations

Date:

Dorset Mind is marking PTSD Awareness Day, sharing personal experiences and promoting resources for help and understanding of the disorder

*Trigger warning: This article discusses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and symptoms of PTSD. Please seek support via the signposting at the end.

On 27th June, Dorset Mind will mark PTSD Awareness Day by helping to increase the understanding around PTSD, sharing powerful real-life experiences of those living with PTSD, and signposting help for those who need it.

What is PTSD?
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that affects any age after witnessing a singular traumatic life-threatening event or serious injury. It can also affect people who have been exposed to continuous unsafe and dangerous circumstances, which is known as Complex PTSD. According to ptsduk.org, 50 per cent of people will experience trauma at some point in their life.

Symptoms of PTSD
Symptoms of PTSD may present as flashbacks or nightmares about the incident, which may lead to avoiding certain people, places and things that remind them of the trauma.
PTSD can heighten emotions such as anger, irritability and hatred. It can present itself in many ways – these are simply the most common symptoms.

Lived experience
A former Dorset Mind participant, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares their experience:
‘I feel like my brain’s working overtime, trying to block out negative memories. I detach myself from those thoughts because I don’t recognise who I am now as the person who witnessed those events.
I’ve had therapy, which has helped, but there are certain memories locked off in my brain. I get very confused when I try to recall events, I can’t retell my story fully without feeling like I’m exaggerating or lying.
‘I feel in a safe space now, where I am a lot happier. However, when I’m exposed to certain triggers – in films, books or hearing others’ shared experiences – I can feel extremely uncomfortable and suddenly emotional, to the point I’ve found myself shaking and crying, but unable to explain why.
‘I feel like I’ve created an exaggerated lie in my head, like I’ll never truly be able to understand what happened, so I find it best to detach myself to keep going.
As an adult, I have developed a better understanding of what is right and wrong and am re-learning to trust myself.
It has affected my relationships, but I am feeling more confident in making decisions based on protecting my own wellbeing.’

Supporting someone with PTSD
It’s important for people who have experienced trauma to feel they are listened to and supported. It may take time for someone with PTSD to feel comfortable seeking help or talking about things. Simply give them time to talk at their own pace and the power to decide who to confide in.
Remember, it may not always be obvious that someone is living with these issues. They may not even be aware themselves, but may still experience some of the symptoms above.
Courageous conversations
On 16th June, Dorset Mind will shine a light on the impacts of trauma and living with PTSD in its FREE community conference at Dorchester Community Church from 11am to 2pm.
The charity invites adults aged 18 and over to join in an interactive session of education and workshops, delivered by expert trainers and carefully selected guests.
Click the link to register to attend:
https://bit.ly/DMConfPTSD

Additional support
Visit dorsetmind.uk for 1-2-1 and group mental health support
Visit ptsd.org for information about PTSD and C-PTSD
Call Anxiety UK’s national helpline on 03444 775 774 (Mon-Fri 9:30 to 5:30)
Call Samaritans for free 24/7 emotional support on 116 123
Call 999 if someone is in immediate danger.

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