A person with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD can also experience depression and anxiety.
Anxiety and depression can leave you feeling unmotivated to do activities or too fearful to do the things that you love.
…The next day, I sobbed over reliving the shame of what I had done and begged the Veteran Administration’s social worker to help me. Feeling better by having talked it out. Upon returning home, I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion afterward but woke up in the middle of the night feeling overwhelmed, ashamed, and afraid for my future.
A feeling of abject despair and pain washed over me like a tsunami. I felt the mental pain of hopelessness.
The anguish of having fallen into a bottomless black hole of depression and the physical pain from having every nerve ending ablaze with fire.
Every synapse in my body was firing at once. Every smell was too strong, every sound too loud, every emotion too intense. I just needed to escape it all, to run away from the pain….
How I kick anxiety and depression's butt to live brave
As someone with depression I know how it is when you feel the effort to even eat or bathe seems impossibly overwhelming. I've done a lot of personal work to overcome the negative thoughts in my head which talk me out of doing the activities that I love because of fear that something bad will happen—but now I know the negative chatter is just anxiety.
Sure, I still wrestle with these thoughts but I've learned some techniques to overcome the procrastination of anxiety and depression.
Just last week I almost talked myself out of a fun family vacation at the beach.
I love the beach. If I could, I would live six months out of the year in the mountains and six months at the beach. Nature is my medicine. But, last week I started feeling some mild depression.
It made getting through my regular day-to-day activities harder and it became impossible to pack for my vacation. I felt scared that some disaster would happen if we leave home.
I noticed what I was feeling physically and emotionally and put a name to it—anxiety and depression. Next, I looked through my mental health toolbox to see what tools I have to overcome this challenge.
Inside my mental health toolbox, I found two techniques that I would use.
1 – I could chunk-it. Break down each goal or task into manageable chunks that I could check off and quickly feel a sense of accomplishment.
2 – I engaged the help of a friend—in my case my service dog Phoebe. I told Phoebe we were going on vacation and that made me not want to disappoint her by cancelling the trip. To find out more about how your service dog can learn to help motivate you to get out and do the things you love check out this article on service dog training.
The takeaway here is that you can learn to create your new normal after a diagnosis of depression, anxiety or PTSD.
It's important that you do because when you come to the end of your long and beautiful life will you want to say to yourself—“boy, I sure did live a safe life here in my house.”
Live a big life with anxiety, depression and PTSD
Or, will you shout my personal mantra—“I’m so happy I lived a big life!”
I didn't miss out on a beach trip with my family and something "bad" did happen—my bodyboard hit me in the eye.
I had a few days of minor pain and a little battle bruise, but now I'm a cool chica with a great story to tell.
It takes effort to be brave enough to be tired or afraid but to take a step toward your new normal anyway. Brene Brown interviewed Oprah Winfrey
on what it means to her to live a brave life. In this interview we are all reminded that everyone struggles, fails, stumbles and eventually succeeds at the things that we try.
My experience with trauma is unique to me. Not everyone will be triggered in the same way or react as I have in similar situations, but my hope is that it will help people to understand what it is like to have a mood disorder, how my trauma occurred, and what efforts I have taken, along with my healthcare team, family, and a small group of friends to save my life and to create my new normal.
I want to hear from you caregivers and loved ones of a person struggling with mental illness, PTSD, or recovering from a physical or emotional trauma. I especially want to hear from anyone who has found their way to their own recovery—and new normal. This is a safe community in which to share your story so leave a comment.