June 18, 2020

PTSD Awareness Month

“Living with Complex PTSD” by Hannah

A lot of people associate Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with soldiers who have been to war and returned home with what used to be known as ‘shell shock’. This is a common misconception, maybe because we as a society like to assume that the only place where anyone could go through something terrible and traumatic would be in a warzone but the truth is that trauma can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone. But not everyone that has been through traumatic events will be diagnosed with PTSD, statistics say around 20% of people who have been through something traumatic go on to develop this condition.

There is a less well-known type of PTSD called Complex PTSD and there is a subtle yet significant difference between the two. PTSD is diagnosed after someone has been through traumatic events and is suffering from symptoms that include flashbacks, nightmares and constantly feeling on guard. Whereas Complex PTSD is diagnosed when someone has been through recurring traumatic events that; most likely happened at an early age, lasted a long time, were often perpetrated by someone close to them and/or where escape was unlikely or impossible and due to these events, they are experiencing symptoms of PTSD and additional symptoms that include difficulty controlling emotions and feeling damaged/worthless.

I have been diagnosed with Complex PTSD due to having a very turbulent childhood and as well as experiencing PTSD symptoms daily, I also experience the additional symptoms that come under this type of PTSD including avoiding friendships and relationships or finding them very difficult and frequent suicidal feelings. Just a few weeks before I started working for Early Break, I attempted to take my life and was under the care of crisis services but getting up and out to work has really helped to lessen the feelings of emptiness and hopelessness that I wasnexperiencing and brought a new purpose to my life.

Living with this condition every day is far from easy but getting back into work (especially a job that I love!) has really helped me turn things around and manage some of my symptoms better, I’ve always loved helping people and working for a charity like Early Break is SO fulfilling! A lot of people with this condition really struggle to hold down a job due to the severity of their symptoms but I’m very much the opposite; work gives me stability and focus which is especially needed in these difficult and uncertain times!