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Forums / PTSD & Trauma / PTSD for Medical and First Responders

Topic: PTSD for Medical and First Responders

  1. A Tech
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    14 July 2017 in reply to CMF

    Thank you

    Donna xx

  2. A Tech
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    14 July 2017 in reply to TrailRunner

    Hey Trailrunner,

    I SO wish I had tips on winding down. Even now, doing better, I still struggle with that.

    I worry sometimes that's so inbuilt into me that it may never change. I was highly strung before I started that job and I am still am without the job.

    I've tried all the recommend techniques but they didn't help so much for me. The only thing that did seem to make a bit of a difference was to actually leave the job for a while.

    I know that sounds so easy, and obviously it was easier for me as my husband was still working. But I read these posts and it does worry me sometimes.

    So many of us push through for so long until we 'break' in a very big way. The problem then, is that it usually means a lot of time off (as in my case, coming up for 3 years not working). Going back after this amount of time not working at is daunting. And I'm still not quite there, hopeful for the new year?

    If we only had some value in ourselves (and didn't have to worry about the stigma, gossip, rumours etc), then we could take real time off when we first need it and be back at work sooner. And I'm not talking about a couple of weeks or months either. In an ideal world (lol!) it should be mandatory for work related PTSD to have decent leave, then redeployment (if up to it) until we're ready to resume our positions. We'd all recover so much faster!

    Sorry I couldn't help with unwinding.

    Donna.

  3. A Tech
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    14 July 2017 in reply to kanga_brumby

    Hi Kanga,

    Yes you most certainly do deserve to be here, we all do!

    Some of my family are volunteer SES here in Perth and I know they struggle with some of what they've been through too. Any job that puts us in danger personally, or has us facing unimaginable things for most people to ever comprehend, is both admirable and devastating at the same time.

    I've said in a few of my posts that I think it really does take a certain type of person to do the things we do. What we see on a regular basis is NEVER supposed to seen. It's not things you can chat about with friends unless they do the same work. I had my brother tell me off in a big way because he overheard me talking with my husband (who happens to work in the same hospital, different job). That's when I really realised how fragile most people are to these things.

    I feel your panic about events too. After you've been through any of these things you know how it feels. So whether your there for something or not, the fight/flight response that is so natural for humans kicks in. Both before I was diagnosed and definitely since, I've had so many times that I heard of traumas and would relive the feelings. Not a specific event, but the general feelings we go through. The racing heart, knotted stomach, you can feel yourself on edge so badly and all you want to do is run!

    I remember not long after I was diagnosed and had stopped working, I was in my car at traffic lights and there was a horrific accident in front of me. Normally not a problem, but that day I froze. It took the honking cars to get me moving but I had to pull over, a panic attack. Scared the crap out of me!

    Ironically the rescue helicopter that I saw on a daily basis at work, fly's over my house on it's way back to base. I LOVED that thing more than I express (sad I know), but I couldn't look at it for almost a year after I left work. That was so hard, hearing it every day, multiple times.

    But now I'm back outside to watch when it fly's over and it feels good!

    So welcome to our little thread. I hope you find some comfort from some of our posts and I hope to talk to again soon.

    Donna.

    1 person found this helpful
  4. TrailRunner
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    19 August 2017 in reply to A Tech

    Hi guys,
    Im back to my pre-injury hours at work but I'm totally non-clinical. Still interacting with my department but not the patients.
    I had thought that being out of there would solve all the problems, but I'm finding myself to be just as jumpy, startled and worried. Its exhausting to deal with the hyper vigilance, the door opens i jump, workmate talks to me all of a sudden and I get a fright, noise outside the office I'm startled. Exhausted.
    Any tips for dealing with sudden noises?
    Thanks x

  5. less than human
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    22 September 2017

    I understand this thread, is for first responders and emergency services, but as a person who has been taken to emergency in a state that may have caused some of you or your colleagues to be traumatized, i sincerely do appologies for my selfish actions.

    Thank you to all of you for the work you do, and for sharing your stories. You have truely opened my eyes.

    1 person found this helpful
  6. MarkJT
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    22 September 2017 in reply to less than human

    LTH, from my point of view, absolutely no need to apologise whatsoever.

    My trauma's come from suicides that i attended and i do not hold those people accountable. Not one iota.

    I feel excessively sorry for them that they could not overcome their demons.

    I acknowledge how you feel but let me assure you, i do not see your actions as selfish. When we are dealing with mental health conditions, our brains become the bad lands and we do not make the best of decisions.

    You are worth it mate. You are strong. You have courage. You have hope.

    Mark.

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  7. Kid_in_denial
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    5 October 2017 in reply to A Tech

    Hi,

    I am a 35 year old RN who works in ED. I am currently on extended maternity leave due to postnatal depression. I have recently been diagnosed complex PTSD, BPD and bipolar II. I was not even aware I could fit into so many different baskets! I absolutely love my job. I was a mature graduate and have only been in the game for 7 years. I have so many things on my plate and it seems the solution, suggested by many (non medical folk), is to return to work. I am so scared to go back, especially now I know what is "wrong" with me.

    I badly want to make a difference and have that great connection that I get from the people who are vulnerable and so grateful for my hard work.....but I don't know if I can face anymore trauma. I also live in a rural area and the hospital where I work is the only hospital for all the people I know to come. I've had friends brought in DOA, some lose their babies. Recently we lost 2 staff members in 1 day (while I was on leave). Both young. Both tragic.

    I don't think I can cope with performing advanced life support on another teenage suicide. It is really easy to disconnect at the time but it catches up to you.

    Also, when my baby was born (3rd baby) he was in respiratory distress and was taken away from me as I lay helpless on the operating table. Having medical knowledge was anything but comforting. A lovely nurse was patting my forehead and telling me everything was fine.....it felt like my baby was not going to make it. I didn't know for an hour and a half where he was or if he was alright. The recovery nurses were all asking about my beautiful newborn and I just cried. My heart was in my throat that entire time.

    I admire every single one of you who get up and do such amazing work. Especially those who have been in the game for so long and who are still out there surviving.

    Will I be able to go back? Who knows. I haven't had the chance to read all comments yet, but if anyone has been in a similar position then I would love to hear your story!

    S

    1 person found this helpful
  8. MarkJT
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    6 October 2017 in reply to Kid_in_denial

    Hey S, I will talk about other things but first, now is the time that you put you as number one. No one else, you are number one, not even your kids as far as I am concerned. The reason this is, to be an effective carer for them, you have to be as good as you can be.

    I have PTSD, depression and anxiety and I kind of think of it as buying one (PTSD) and getting two free (depression and anxiety). Yes we can have a whole range of mental health conditions all operating at the one time.

    It is admirable that you want to get back to your job and help people but as hard as it may be, you need to give this a wide berth if you do not want to go back to trauma. Further trauma may do you more harm and as I said at the start, you are number one. Is there another area in the hospital that you can work and help people but stay clear of trauma?

    I cannot agree with the people saying you need to get back there. I got back to work but am sheltered from trauma and only after very successful clinical treatment allowed to get on top of my PTSD symptoms and even then, I do not plan on working in a policing unit that exposes me to trauma ever again.

    Are you currently being treated for the mental health conditions you have been diagnosed with?

    Mark

  9. Kid_in_denial
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    6 October 2017 in reply to MarkJT

    Hi Mark,

    I definitely went for the buy one, get two free offer. It is kind of four but I like to think I kicked the postnatal depression in the arse and have moved on to the bigger, more permanent issues.

    I totally agree that going back to work is not the right thing for me at this time, however I feel like there is a lot of pressure put on me to do so because people believe it will benefit me to have that independence and income again. I understand the theory but I am starting to get annoyed with the idea being forced on me so often. I also understand that people don't mean any harm in saying so - although some opinions are questionable.

    I love working trauma, I love the adrenaline rush - especially on a night shift. The problem is that I cannot pick and choose what incidents I get to be involved in. Some really have no effect on me. Others rip me apart. We only have a couple of doctors who will run a debrief after a major resus. There is not enough internal support. I have worked other wards on casual shifts and found it very mind numbing. I am very impulsive so ED works well for me. Plus we run 12 hour shifts so it is more time off to spend with my family. No other wards do the same. I would love to work as the IV specialist but that involves more study and a vacant position. Ultimately I think work needs to be put on the back burner for now. It is another stressor more than anything. I am just scared of losing my clinical skills and having to undergo further training and assessments to get back on the job.

    I am receiving therapy for my mental health issues. I see a psychiatrist once a f/n and the psychologist on the off week. We are only just about to begin DBT and CBT next week and I have just stripped back from all medications to start fresh. I have been fortunate to find good help. Only took 18 years, but it is better late than never.

    S

  10. Croix
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    7 October 2017 in reply to Kid_in_denial

    Dear S~

    Asking for other's experiences can be a pretty good idea. I'm another ex-policeman with PTSD, anxiety and bouts of depression. Unlike Mark above I was not able to return to my work, it happened a fair while ago and support was non-existent.

    Like you the job I had suited my temperament, talents and abilities - well I thought so at the time:)

    I do know that being away from the environment that made me ill was a big bonus, but even then it took a long while to get to a reasonably stable state, working in education which was a complete contrast.

    Being independent and having financial resources is indeed not only a practical thing, but also a huge boost to self-esteem and decision making. I never had the opportunity to try as I said, but if I did have I would have gone back to the police, however I'd have put in for a completely different role, at least for a while. Maybe even something clerical or similar. That would have given me the time to assess if I could ever have gone back to what I did before.

    After all this happened I really did not know myself, and would have needed a 1/2 way stage to get to see the new me.

    Getting out of date and having to train to get up to speed is not all that big a hurdle. My son works in A&E and they have always been so short of competent staff that anyone who is willing to go that path gets heaps of help and encouragement. After only 7 or so years out of uni the study habit will still be fresh for a long time.

    I hope the new therapies go well. I think we would all be interested in how you go

    Croix

  11. TrailRunner
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    7 October 2017 in reply to Kid_in_denial

    Hey Kid in denial,

    im also an ed nurse Dx with PTSD almost a year ago. I took 4 or so months off. I had no interest in returning to any other work but ed.

    I slowly returned to work after my Dx as supernumerary through a workcover return to work program. Being back in the ED was really hard, I began to get almost comfortable again but the management support dropped off and I was hitting rock bottom weekly.

    I've moved over to clinical risk management (an interest of mine but didn't think I'd be in this work for another 10years!!) being back at work has been good for me at times, but the type of work you return to is really important. And it's not a decision to be rushed.

    What do your clinicians think about your return to work?

    T.R

  12. Kid_in_denial
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    7 October 2017 in reply to TrailRunner

    Hi Croix and T.R.

    Thanks for responding. To answer you both - my boss is not approachable and does not know about my diagnosis. I was diagnosed only 3 months ago and have been on extended maternity leave (unpaid) and have avoided all contact with any management at work due to my postnatal dx and the fact that I had lost the desire to explain myself to people I feel have no interest in my wellbeing. The fact that one of the staff who took their own life recently had a long known struggle with PTSD makes me hesitant to speak up. My boss and I have clashed since day one. She likes yes people and I am not one of them. She is also very patronising and toxic in my eyes. There are lots of other supportive staff, I think I miss them most. Unfortunately there is a pecking order and the good people are all at the bottom. I am not sure I could handle coming back feeling like a new grad again.

    I think you are both right. Working is important and study will show that I am keen to progress, but where I choose to go is going to be detrimental to my health and wellbeing. A good friend of mine has PTSD from a war posting with defence. She started uni with me but could not complete it as she became unwell under all of the stress. She has since walked right away from any traumatic work settings and is still really struggling. Not to compare myself to someone else - I know we all cope differently, however I don't want to push myself into life and get thrown on my arse.

    I understand it is important to have good help, which I do now, I am just worried that I am never going to find my feet again. It took me so long to find a job I loved and could tolerate, and now I have to reassess and start again. Maybe I am just not ready to take this step? I feel as though I can't get up and do things but I cannot sit here and go around in circles.

    Did either of you find transitioning to different jobs hard? I think finding something you are good at and then being forced out if it is so disheartening that it will be hard to motivate one to jump into something new.

    Can I ask, T.R, was your PTSD caused by your job? Mine was not but has been exacerbated by it. For me there are more than just front of the line trauma associated triggers. Does that even make sense?

    S

  13. Kid_in_denial
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    7 October 2017 in reply to TrailRunner

    Sorry if my posts sound a little bit monotonous. I am not sure anyone has the answer to my questions and I know no one can decide for me. I'd just really like to know how others have dealt and hear some stories in hopes that there will be something I can take from all of your experiences to help make mine a little easier.

    Appreciate all the disclosure. I am having so many troubles in all aspects of my life at the moment that it feels like if I throw myself into something then maybe it will help break the cycle. I don't know.

  14. MarkJT
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    8 October 2017 in reply to Kid_in_denial

    S, from what i have read you certainly know what you are doing, i.e. engaging with clinicians, knowing that going back to work early can be detrimental, putting work on the back burner etc.

    Those are all really good decisions and ones that i tell people when asked. I add that even though you may not get back to the job you love (what ever industry the person is that i am talking to), your health is number one. Without your mental health, the rest of life becomes seriously difficult.

    I to loved the adrenaline of active jobs but am at peace with knowing that they are now a bygone era for me.

    Your posts are not sounding monotonous at all. To me they read that you are working through decisions that have to be made with the input of others.

    Mark

  15. Kid_in_denial
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    8 October 2017 in reply to MarkJT

    Cheers Mark.

    I guess to me it seems a little monotonous because I am stuck in a fog. Making decisions is kinda of a long process of questioning myself and attempting to utilise helpful advice but I go around and around in circles.

    I also think that because my life feels so bleak right now that the idea of giving up something that was exciting is a lot to take on board. I don't feel important enough at the moment so giving up on an important role is overwhelming. Maybe I need some kind of guidance counseling to give me some ideas. Maybe things will come together soon. At the moment it is 2 steps forward and 1 back, suppose that is progress.

    Thanks for the wise words and for being so kind. I love this community.

    S

  16. MarkJT
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    9 October 2017 in reply to Kid_in_denial

    S, key words for me there are "2 steps forward and 1 back"...that is a truck load better than 2 steps back and i forward. This is positive.

    I remember the time when i could not even make the decision of the chicken or the beef for tea but slowly, as time goes by, the brain fog lifts and my decision making ability improved.

    You taking the time to make a decision is a good one, do not doubt yourself there.

    When you say you don't feel important enough at the moment, is that in a work sense or a life sense?

    Mark

  17. Bilbo22
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    10 October 2017 in reply to A Tech
    That So many ptsd posts centre on the need for a good GP to chart the treatment course is incredibly healing for me. 15 years of misery ticks over soon. My expectation was to be burned, broken and destroyed when I surrendered myself to the flames of my particular disaster- but it was the jealousy, ignorance and contempt from the hospital, state and profession that provided the " twist "that defines torture. Having enjoyed the best of all therapies- I can say-like the fascist victim - " he who is tortured remains tortured forever" no longer homeless and unemployed- 2 am and I've just kissed our beautiful kids 5,7 and 9. My wife is sleeping in another room. I'm too volatile during these weeks. I long for her comfort. I grind my teeth in pain. This anniversary will be over soon and I will return to myself. I will be there for my patients again- the rare privilege of their lives . My ever loving children will resorb fathers love and attention while j, my wife, .. her woman's love .....bucks understanding xo
  18. Kid_in_denial
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    10 October 2017 in reply to MarkJT

    You are right, Mark. It is a positive. I just have to remember to stop being so hard on myself. The importance is as a whole at this stage. Because the postnatal struck me down so unexpectedly and then spiraled into my mental health issues hitting the ground running, I have been useless. There have been days where I couldn't even get my kids to school. The maintenance of my home has slipped because of my inability to care (although I did care but was highly unmotivated to do anything other than mope). It is the most unwell I had ever been in my life. I am, thankfully on the other side and on the up - however when you are getting better the expectations of what I should be doing become higher, by my standard and others. I am currently packing to move and I am throwing away most of our belongings and even though it is stressful at the time I feel at peace by bed time. So to me there is another positive. I am still not back to being "well" and I think focusing on one thing at a time and taking some time for myself, as previously suggested, is a must. Cheers for all the reassurance.

    Hi A Tech,

    I am not sure I understand your post. Might be because I am feeling a bit foggy. Sounds like you're having a bit of a hard time. Is this a support issue? Anything that keeps us up at night is exhausting enough without adding the sleep deprivation it causes. This community is extremely helpful and supportive if you are in need of some advice or just to talk to someone who gets it. Feel free to come back and have a chat.

    S

  19. Bright&Bubbly
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    10 October 2017 in reply to MarkJT

    Hi Mark and all ...

    I'm pleased to have found this thread. I've only just linked in.

    22 years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD, Clinical Depression, Anxiety Disorder and was acutely suicidal. Luckily for me that time in my life was also the beginning of my healing journey - at 40yrs of age.

    I was hospitalised, medicated, linked into the health system and eventually found my way out the other side. It was a long slow journey with both professional help and self help. I went back to school and got an education. Studied Psychology, Psychotherapy and other therapies in order to understand myself ... Very long story and too much for now ...

    Being a volunteer fire fighter - I had a bad accident on the Fire ground two years ago. I'm still recovering the physical injury. It was the reigniting of the mental trauma of those past events that shocked me the most. I thought I had fully healed from those earlier episodes ... but being incapacitated and vulnerable all over again triggered my past trauma. This time though - I had developed the coping skills that allowed me to reach out for help. I called LifeLine and spoke to a Councillor. Went to see my Dr the next day... it took me several months to agree to go to see a therapist but I eventually did. This time I went to a very good Somatic Therapist. After about 15 sessions of delving right into all the hidden corners of all aspects of my earlier triggers ... I came out the other side again - healthy, happy and whole again.

    I can now trust myself to know that if anything decides to surface again, that this time I know I'll be able to cope with it and seek the help needed to get me through again ...

    My reason for posting is tonshare that There is hope. We can get through to the other side xx

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  20. Kid_in_denial
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    11 October 2017 in reply to Kid_in_denial
    I meant billbo, not A Tech. Misread the start of the post.
  21. MarkJT
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    12 October 2017 in reply to Bilbo22

    Bilbo, the story i am getting from you is that you are a survivor.

    From being homeless and unemployed to kissing your three kids goodnight - wow just so brilliant.

    I am just so happy for you having done what you have done.

    Spot on with the need to have a clinician plot the course of recovery.

    What sort of treatment did you undertake?

    Mark

  22. MarkJT
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    12 October 2017 in reply to Kid_in_denial

    S, at times it can be intensely difficult but it is just so important to try and remain positive. We must find that silver lining in every event that comes across us.

    Living the daily battle that we do, if we focus on the negatives, that will serve no other purpose but to push us further down the dark hole but positivity, has the opposite effect. Even if that positive is a really small one, it is a plus, not a negative.

    I agree and also do what you do in that as we recover, we set higher expectations but the key is to recognise when we are not so good, i.e. when depression really hits hard or anxiety or what ever symptom's turn it is, that we can stop, reassess and set new goals for the day.

    I have days where expectations are high and also ones that the expectation is very low. Just get through the day, that's the aim. Get up the next day and re-assess.

    I reckon you are going pretty well when all things are considered.

    Mark

  23. MarkJT
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    12 October 2017 in reply to Bright&Bubbly

    Bright & Bubble, hey welcome to the forums, great to have you among us.

    Love your post - such positivity and you are such a survivor. Awesomeness right there!

    Interested in the somatic therapist - never heard of it, can you talk me through it?

    Mark

  24. TrailRunner
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    19 October 2017 in reply to Kid_in_denial

    Hi Kid in Denial,

    i do have ptsd from work. 2 worst case scenario days one after the other. Fairly impossible to make sense of them anywhere in my brain.

    i tried to push on, it was futile, I lasted 4 months of turning up to work before I was feeling unsafe driving alone.

    i had 3 months or so off, and came back a couple hours a day at first in supernumerary positions only.

    unfortunately the support from management wasn't what was expected and I needed to work elsewhere. I couldn't work just anywhere I didn't want a handout, a position came up in risk management and I earned the position. They have been the greatest support from work I've ever received. The work wasn't far off what I'd been doing for uni assignments so that wasn't a hard transition.

    Working my full work week hours again was hard. Eating and having meals prepared was hard. Having clean clothes for work was hard. Being around people was hard, paranoid what people would think of me.

    changing positions and taking away the biggest triggers was important for me i think, for my injury to rest and begin to recover. Take the time and you will thank yourself for looking after yourself x

    apologies if that's long winded and not what you were after

    TR

  25. TrailRunner
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    19 October 2017 in reply to TrailRunner

    ... I thought I should add, as my prev post was a bit somber.

    i am doing a whole lot better, I'm working and productive. I'm about to revisit my study with a clearer mind. And I can see, with the right support, I could possibly return to working in emergency. The future looks, well I see a future with me in it.

    surround yourself with those that have inspired you, in life and work. Stay connected to your core friends. Rest your mind. Keep your body moving. Keep hydrated.

    Celebrate every little win.

    x

    TR

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  26. MarkJT
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    21 October 2017 in reply to TrailRunner

    TR, just have to say that what you have done to transition from one to another was a brilliant effort.

    That must have taken some mental energy to go over a good period of time.

    Love your two last posts, just so much positivity about them Deluxe!

    Mark

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  27. TrailRunner
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    21 October 2017 in reply to MarkJT

    Thanks Mark.

    im glad I experienced the positives long enough to post here, my world has just been shaken up a little

    the shine has been dull'd again this last week. Low mood, low appetite, lack of sleep, and someone hit the trigger button while I wasn't watching.

    i was away for 5 days around other people I respect and that helped me feel better I could be me, none of them know what happened or that I've been sick or off work or the reason I needed to change work.

    it took about 3 days after I got home for that to wear off. Feeling good here, It's just not a sustainable feeling or state of mind. It's easier to be self torturous than kind.

    Its hard to see what the point in all this is. When I feel a little better the world around me is no different to when I'm not feeling good.

    What a weird place we live, I live. I just watch myself and wonder who is that girl! She should just stop because nothing really matters..

    what makes you know, truely know, that there is a point to life?

    t r

  28. MarkJT
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    23 October 2017 in reply to TrailRunner

    TR, that is the nature of PTSD. We now live on a roller coaster of emotions that can make our worlds nice and rosey and then when we get triggered we are sitting in a hellish place that appears to have no escape.

    It sucks, sucks massive but you can choose to remain in hell or stand up, dust yourself off and get back into the nice rosey place.

    That previous post that you did, that tells me that you know how to dust yourself off and make a new life for yourself. Again, it completely sucks how we have to do this but it is the world we now live in.

    One of my favorite sayings is, "learn to surf". Emotions come in, in waves so you have learnt to surf those waves, just keep practicing and you will get better at it. Yes, every now and then a monster comes in and dumps us and we feel crap for a few days and when those wave dissipates, we are mentally tired from battling it so be easy on yourself.

    Plenty matters - you matter and remember you are central to someones world. You matter plenty!

    Mark.

  29. TrailRunner
    TrailRunner avatar
    27 posts
    23 October 2017 in reply to MarkJT
    It sucks and it seems just not fair
  30. TrailRunner
    TrailRunner avatar
    27 posts
    23 October 2017 in reply to TrailRunner
    Not seems, it IS unfair..

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