Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a constant struggle between the past and present, and it can be easy to get lost in the chaos of our own minds. There’s every good reason in the world to feel confused, so here’s a list of things to try to remember.
1.) You’re not weak
It’s easy to look at how difficult it can be to do seemingly simple things and feel incredibly weak and small. PTSD doesn’t happen to people that have had an easy life, and it is no fault of yours that your life has lead you through circumstances where survival instincts were necessary. In fact, it would be odd if you didn’t react the way you did, and if you didn’t struggle with the things you struggle with now. PTSD is a very natural response to an unnatural situation. You made it to today, so no, you are not weak.
2.) Progress is not linear
Healing is not a steady incline. We fall down, stumble backwards, stand still, and sometimes we leap forward. There are good days and there are bad days. Sometimes even the best days feel like a disappointment because we know it won’t last long, but ups and downs are always normal in the healing process. Enjoy the good days, and know that the bad days won’t last forever. In a pit of despair it’s easy to direct anger in towards ourselves and feel that it is our fault that we no longer feel like living. But it’s not your fault, and it’s ok and natural to have ups and downs. You’re making progress, even if you still have bad days.
3.) Your friends want to be there for you
We’ve all had bad friends, but for the most part the people in your life want to be there for you, even if they don’t know how. Sometimes the things they say can be patronizing or ignorant, but their lack of understanding doesn’t mean they don’t care for you. It is not their intention to hurt you, and if it was they shouldn’t be in your life anyway. They still care, even if they don’t always say the right things.
4.) You don’t feel the way you do because you aren’t trying hard enough
Sometimes you can do all the right things and still have a rough time. Bad days aren’t on account of you not trying hard enough. Not to say that trying is futile, because doing the best things you can for yourself is invaluable. But that doesn’t mean you won’t still feel bad sometimes. Patience with yourself is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.
5.) It’s ok to have a break down
Sometimes you just have to lose your sh*t. Even people who have easy histories go nuts. Keeping all your pain inside will hurt you, and letting it out every once in a while is ok. As long as you are not cruel and don’t try to hurt the people around you, feel free to just freak out.
6.) Sometimes you have to say “no”
It’s not easy to say “no” to people, especially if they’re people you love. However, if you know that something is going to be bad for your mental health it’s more than ok to decline. The people around you might not understand your reasoning, but if they truly care about you they’ll want you to be healthy first. There’s no shame in waiting to do things until you’re ready.
7.) Making choices that are good for you shows a lot of strength
For many of us, having problems with our mental health can start to feel like our identity. It can be hard to know who we are without illness, and for that reason it becomes scary to make the steps we know we need to take to heal. That fear is ok and it is normal. Although we may hate the way we live, it can be almost comforting to at least feel like we know who we are. Most of us have felt this fear, but if you have taken at least some steps to healing it is a testament to how incredibly brave you are. It’s like getting to know ourselves the way we would get to know a significant other. It can be terrifying. But I promise you that you are a lovely person to get to know.