The Holiday Season with PTSD

A couple of days ago, we received an email from a lovely stranger sharing her severe struggles with anxiety during the holiday season. As much as it hit home, it did not leave my mind and reminded me how hard these days can be.

I have wrestled writing this as much as I wrestle to regulate my nervous system on a daily basis. Being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), life circumstances that seem normal to so many can cause panic in myself. I spent the last few months learning to understand the changes in my brain that I can physically feel in order to live my life as normal as possible.

Facing my first long work break this year is a new challenge. While I am able to keep a balanced wellbeing during work periods, having time off allowed my mind to take over my body. I struggle with triggers of memories and experiences of physical and mental pain which caused a trauma that I relive when I see or hear things that remind me of those days. When these triggers take over, my mind automatically dissociates itself from my body.

For the moments this happens, I was shown various techniques to control the emotional impact. During the holiday season and the connected stress of travel, family and other social gatherings, it is important to check on yourself and in need, step back and take care of yourself. Don’t leave your invisible pain unnoticed and please know that there is a relational home in people and music.

Historically, PTSD is a condition which most associate with men and women serving their countries around the world. As much as this is true, it can also affect any other person. I am aware of the love that is surrounding me from the people in my life to keep my hopes up for recovery. Mental illness is surrounded by shame and judgement, but also healing and kindness if you focus on the right perspective.

I struggle, but I also heal a little every day and I hope that you do too.

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