Sunday, 7 December 2014

PTSD

In my last two posts I described my recent experience of EMDR and how it really helped me. In this post I’d like to explain in further detail why I needed that therapy.

As a result of being frequently reminded of my past, I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was suffering from the most typical symptom – re-experiencing. I was involuntarily and vividly reliving the traumatic event in the form of nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts and images.  I would panic and feel angry when reminded of the trauma. I was frequently anxious and found it difficult to relax and sleep. In addition, my physical health was affected, I suffered from headaches, dizziness and stomach problems.

The part of the brain that is responsible for memory and emotion is called the hippocampus. In people with PTSD, the hippocampus may appear smaller in size and therefore the malfunctioning hippocampus is unable to properly process memories and flashbacks. Treatment of PTSD results in processing the memories and flashbacks so that they eventually fade away. As previously mentioned, my EMDR therapy was a success and enabled my brain to process the traumatic memories effectively.

The fact that I have had a course of successful therapy and feel able to move on with my life, does not mean that it ends there. I have 'complex PTSD’ due to repeated trauma at an early age that happened for many years. As a consequence, I will need long-term, intensive therapy throughout my life.

I have had to reduce my workload over the past couple of years on account of PTSD. My number one priority has been my health, without that I couldn’t function or cope with life. Unfortunately, someone made an ignorant comment inferring that I haven’t been doing much with my life. I wonder if that person would make the same comment to someone who is physically disabled and unable to work. Mental health isn’t visible but is one of the most common reasons for taking time off work. Having therapy is not about failure or giving up, it's about self-care, recovery, and recognizing/acting on one's needs. I’m steadily regaining control of my life and setting myself goals, I couldn’t have done that without therapy. Even if others aren’t proud of me, I am proud of myself for having the courage to seek help and move forward with my life.
                           

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