What you thought was only seen in a horror movie has happened to you in real life – you witnessed a horrible crime scene or a life changing event right in front of your eyes. Or perhaps you went through continuous low-high level traumas throughout a period of years, and suffer greatly as a result of that. With all the things that you’ve experienced and witnessed, it’s completely understandable you might be experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD. It’s a normal reaction whenever people witness or experience a frightening event. But if you’re still unsure if you’re suffering from PTSD, you might want to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you re-experiencing the traumatic event?
Aside from having nightmares, your mind may be clouded up with flashbacks of the day that the traumatic event happened. You can still see images from your past and what happened vividly in your mind. Up to this day, you may even hear every sound that happened during the event. It’s never your intention to think about any of these things because as much as possible, you want to forget everything that happened but you just can’t. This is one common sign that most PTSD sufferers experience which shouldn’t be ignored.
2. Do you avoid things that remind you of the trauma?
The location where it all happened is just around the corner from your house. If you take this road to work, the commute will take you 15 minutes. However, after the incident, you never want to pass through this area again. You don’t care if it would take you an hour to get to work, but you know you can’t be in an area where your life changing event occurred. You have the option to take a bumpy, dusty old road that takes longer and you’d gladly choose this instead. Avoiding the place where the traumatic event occurred is another key sign to watch out for.
3. Did your natural pattern of behaviours, beliefs or feelings change after the traumatic event?
You were always known to be a fun-loving person and friendly towards others. You have this bubbly and cheerful personality. People would always call you up because a party would never be a party without you in it. However, you’ve become the opposite after what happened. You’d rather be in the comforts of your home than going out to party. You think that everywhere you go, danger is lurking. You want to be careful all the time. You feel like you can never trust anyone anymore. You’ve gradually transformed your natural extroverted personality to becoming extremely introverted.
4. Are you using drugs or drinking too much to escape the pain?
You drink especially during social events. You think that this is the best way to go whenever you hang out with your friends or if seeing a relative after a long time. You were never regarded by your friends as a big drinker, but all of this changed weeks after the traumatic event. You perhaps try your best to hide it from everybody else, but drinking or self-medicating with drugs is now becoming a problem for you. You think that this is the easiest way for you to forget everything. You want to live a normal life again, but you’re not sure how to get there and drinking or taking drugs helps you forget, it eases your pain. You didn’t notice when drugs and alcohol had slowly started to take over your life.
5. Are you feeling keyed up?
You’re living alone in your house. You’re not that type of person who bombards the main door with locks of every kind – as long as it’s shut, you’re good for the night. After all, the dogs on the front porch will bark non-stop once someone is lurking around, right? Yes, these were all your thoughts before the traumatic event happened, but not anymore. Now, your front door has many additional locks. You also can’t sleep well because you easily get startled – a hush of wind can wake you up. Perhaps on some level you always feel unsafe.
If the above resonates for you, you may be experiencing PTSD. What you’re feeling is a totally normal reaction from someone who has witnessed a terrible or life changing scene, have compassion for what you went through and please reach out for help. There are numerous ways for you to get support, help and treatment. Look for the best treatment options appropriate for you. Connect in with a professional, be it your local GP as a starting point, or find a recommendation for a Psychologist in your area. Pour your time and efforts into whatever treatment route you chose, and in time, you will find a new normal. We hope this article from Endeavour Wellness helps.
If you need help please talk to friends, family, a GP, therapist or one of the free confidential helpline services. For a full list of national mental health services see yourmentalhealth.ie.
- Samaritans 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pieta House National Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 or email email@example.com – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement) or text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply)
- Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
If living in Ireland you can find accredited therapists in your area here: