Hey PTSD, You’re back!

Going into the lockdown my post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has started to show it’s ugly mug again. The trauma I experienced was seven years ago. I spent three months in hospital and was in and out of critical care three times. I am obviously really thankful for this, because it saved my life. But it has left me with mental scars that I will probably never fully recover from. I thought I had recovered. I thought that finally that door was closed and it was all in the past. However recent events of the world have triggered a lot of unhelpful feelings. Because the trauma was a medical thing, it has been impossible to escape. I have had it rubbed in my face every single day for the last three months while the world has been dealing with Coronavirus. It’s on the news, it’s on social media, it’s all people seem to talk about. The terms that make me feel extremely uncomfortable, death, ventilators, breathing difficulties, critical and intensive care are terms that we are hearing every day. I had learned to accept these terms for what they are, just words, words can’t hurt me. But over the duration of the lockdown these words have once again become attached to negative feelings. I can’t just see those words as letters on a page as I could at the beginning of this year. I see those words and I feel anxious, extremely uncomfortable, slightly sick, my neck and throat feel horrible and I feel dread. Once again my PTSD has been chipping away at me, twisting my thoughts and growing by the day.

Now as a country we are at the point where we are able to try and go back to normal. Mentally I am at the point where my mind is starting to play new games with me. Before my PTSD was all low mood and anxiety symptoms. There was only one physical symptom which was a horrible, tight feeling that I get in my neck and throat. I put this down to being on a ventilator, I remember starting to come round while the tube was still there. In the past I had to be really pushed in terms of my PTSD to trigger the throat and neck feeling. So the majority of the time I didn’t have any physical symptoms.

This last few weeks the PTSD has taken a change of direction and started attacking me physically. I get the feeling it wasn’t getting enough attention from me before, so now it has found a way that will really scare me. Last week I had what I think was my first and hopefully only panic attack. I called an ambulance convinced that there was something dangerously wrong with me. I felt like I wasn’t breathing properly, my chest was going really tight and my heart was racing. I was convinced that there was something really wrong. When I got to the hospital they checked me over and luckily everything was fine. It’s baffling to think that everything felt so wrong when there wasn’t actually anything wrong.

The night after my panic attack at around the same time I got the horrible feeling in my neck again, worse than it ever has been before. It felt really achy at the top of my neck and under my chin, along my jaw line. My head was trying to convince me that I wasn’t well, but after being at the hospital all night the night before, I wasn’t falling for it again. I know my neck is my weak spot with the PTSD and I knew I was OK. They did every test they needed to at the hospital and told me that whatever happened, it was nothing dangerous. The next day I woke up and my neck was absolutely fine. It was obviously another game that my mind was playing.

The attack really shook me. I have not been so out of control of my own mind since I was in hospital seven years ago. For quite a few days after the panic attack I was in a bit of a daze. I couldn’t stop worrying in case it was the start of regular panic attacks. The more I thought about what happened, the scarier it seemed. I was so grateful that there was nothing more serious wrong, but the thought of having more panic attacks was definitely not good either. My PTSD is getting to me in new and scary ways and all because of the lockdown and coronavirus. I really don’t think it would have flared up again if it wasn’t for that. Not so soon after finishing my therapy anyway. I only finished it in January this year. In March my PTSD started to creep back as we went into lockdown.

One week later

Looking back on the last week I am seeing things a lot more clearly. The three days following the attack seemed like my mind was lost in a thick fog of PTSD, and I just wasn’t feeling myself or able to see my way through it. There was more PTSD me there than there was real me. There has been a lot of talk about peaks recently in relation to the virus, well at that point I think my PTSD had reached it’s peak. I had the attack, I got stuck in the fog and after a few days at the top, the fog has completely cleared. I feel more myself now than I have done in weeks. My boyfriend suggested that maybe everything had just built up over the last few months and I had finally reached boiling point. Maybe I just needed to boil over and explode and now that I have, maybe everything will keep getting better. I am on my fifth day of feeling fantastic and I really think and hope that he is right about this. Maybe it’s not the start of new and scary things. Maybe I just reached my peak and something had to give for me to come back down. Until this week I hadn’t realised how much i had not been myself. I knew I wasn’t great but it’s one of those things where you don’t realise how unwell you are, until you start to feel better.

xx ❤ xx

6 Comments Add yours

  1. AP2 says:

    Hi Amy. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles with PTSD. I’m no stranger to it myself although I can’t say it had ever revisited me like you describe! Sometimes I think the struggle will always be there lurking in the background. I often remind myself that this is ok because I’ve gotten through worse before and survived. Every storm passes. I’m pleased to hear that it did for you too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy Rollitt says:

      Hi, thank you so much for commenting. I’m sorry to hear that you have had struggles with PTSD too. Mine was treated and I felt great, but I did always wonder whether it would ever come back. I really didn’t expect it to be so soon. In the circumstances though it’s not surprising. I really hope you keep on doing well and finding ways to keep it under control. Thank you so much for reading my blog. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. AP2 says:

        Glad to hear you’re keeping a healthy perspective. My PTSD was also treated and equally feel much better nowadays. However I still have a few issues with anxiety and am aware it could come back too! It was a pleasure reading your blog – I think the discussion is so so important – for those of us who have got the help and who know how hard it can be to reach out and ask – I think talking about these things openly and honestly can inspire others to do the same. Keep on keeping on!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Amy Rollitt says:

        I’m glad to hear you have been feeling a bit better recently. These are really tough times that we are all going through in our own ways. Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog, it really does mean a lot to me. I think talking and writing about these things is good in various ways. It helps me to clear my head, while hopefully making people more aware of what it feels like to have to deal with these things. So thank you again, it really means a lot to me that you think I am doing this well. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m no stranger to PTSD either, though the cause of my trauma was almost a year ago. Panic attacks have been regular, with wonderful interludes of normalcy that I can’t explain. I do think that the isolation of the pandemic has been difficult. I knew exactly what you meant when you said that your neck feels tight. Mine feels like my throat is going to close sometimes, or like I might throw up. One of the most helpful books I read about it all is The Body Keeps the Score. It certainly made me feel like my symptoms were a perfectly reasonable response to a very real trauma. Thanks for shining a light on real mental health issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy Rollitt says:

      Hello! Thank you so much for commenting. I haven’t really spoken to many people who live with PTSD but thank you for mentioning about your neck, nobody else has mentioned that to me before so I wasn’t sure if it was just me and my reaction to what happened. So it’s helpful to know that somebody else understands that. Thank you for recommending the book, I might give that a read. Thank you so much for following my blog 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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