Me and PTSD
As many of you know, I live with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
It is my understanding that PTSD occurs when you experience too much stress from a past trauma. Something may trigger this PTSD in a current situation, even though the original danger has passed. It is like your nervous system is “stuck”, it is unable to return to its normal state of balance and it is unable to move on from this event.
I still sometimes have intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, mental or physical reactions and these make it difficult for me to regain my sense of safety, trust and self-worth.
This is where I have found exercise my rescuer. I get asked a lot why all the rides and runs and my epic adventures instead of relaxing on resort holidays? I also get asked what drives me to be able to push myself to extremes on my adventures? The answer is that exercise does more than just enhance my mood and give me a bucket load of endorphins, it actually helps me and my nervous system to become “unstuck”. And the extra benefits of eating healthy and regular exercise is certainly good for my body and mind.
I know, at times I have gone a little too far with some of my exercise regimes, that’s where my family comes in and points out that I’m stepping into the “obsessive behaviour” area. When this happens, I try to slow down a little, but I never completely stop, I believe exercise has helped me immensely with my PTSD.
I’m also lucky that I have a spouse and daughters who understand, well they get it, me going off for days and weeks on epic treks. I’m not sure everyone would be okay with their spouse wondering off. I need this time of being off by myself, going somewhere different (mostly the Australian Outback), it’s like checking in to the Outback Rehab to get a course of treatment for my mental well-being.
I understand there are other Survivors out there like me who are still self-healing from or still struggling living with PTSD. If I could share one thing with them it would be that they need to allow themselves some freedom to take care of themselves. Find what works for them and allow themselves the time they need.
There’s no right way, there’s no set formula. My way of using exercise happened to be good for me. I must say though, as well as using a strategy I find it very important to include professional help, either Psychologist or Psychiatrist or both. To this day I still regularly see my professional team and they help me live with PTSD.
Goodness me, my eldest daughter has always said that I’m not PTSD, I live with it, it’s like my housemate. There are times where my housemate is really loud and takes up every room of the house and there are many other times when it’s not at home, it’s just me. I still struggle on days and I don’t always get it right, but I’ll never give up.