The impact of PTSD extends beyond the individual directly affected, reaching into the lives of their loved ones. Spouses and partners of individuals with PTSD often experience what is known as vicarious trauma. This develops as a reaction to witnessing and absorbing their partner’s emotional and psychological distress. Constant exposure to their loved one’s pain can take a toll on the other person’s own well-being, leading to heightened anxiety, stress, and even symptoms resembling PTSD. Recognizing and addressing the impact of vicarious trauma is crucial, providing support and resources for the spouses and partners who shoulder the weight of their partner’s struggle.
We asked someone with diagnosed PTSD a few questions, and they were happy and willing to share their responses, though requested to remain anonymous.
1) Do you remember what it was like trying to live with PTSD before you received your formal diagnosis? What would you say was the most difficult part?
“I lived day to day, not knowing why I was feeling a certain way and experiencing things the way I did. I could only assume it was PTSD. The most difficult part was not knowing and not understanding how to manage my condition or what was going on with my body.”
2) How did you feel deep down when you received your formal diagnosis?
“I was not surprised. I felt worried if I would ever recover and how well I was going to be able to cope with it.”
3) Once you started treatment for your PTSD, did things feel like they were getting easier or harder to deal with initially? And later on?
“When I got treatment for PTSD, things became much harder as I worked through everything that was pent up inside me for years after the diagnosis. Later on, things got easier, and then they would get harder, it’s a roller coaster ride. It stabilizes, and then something sets it off, and you have to figure out how to get it back under control and wait for the next loop-the-loop.”
4) How do you feel about it now?
“I feel like it’s part of my life, and I just try to work with the ups and downs the best I can.”
5) Any advice for people who may be struggling with this?
“Accept that it’s there and get help when you need it, don’t put it off. Get help. There’s no shame in it.”
By continuing to raise awareness and enhance understanding, we can foster a compassionate environment that encourages individuals to seek help and embark on a path of healing and recovery from the profound impact of PTSD.
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