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28 Important Mighty Stories to Read if You Live With PTSD

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Living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be overwhelming. Even before seeking a formal diagnosis and treatment, it can be tough to navigate the aftermath of a trauma experience, the mind awash with questions: What happens next? Is it affecting you in ways you haven’t even realized? How do you seek treatment?

• What is PTSD?

Over the years, we have published story after story addressing almost every aspect of living with PTSD. These are stories not only from Mighty staff, but from our amazing community, sharing how PTSD affects them and how they’ve fought through it. That’s why, for PTSD awareness month, I wanted to compile a short list of just a few of the best Mighty articles for living with PTSD. After reading this, why not also check out our list of the important Mighty stories to read if you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault?

What Is PTSD?

“Now is a critical time to gain a better understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder.” — Doc Springer

The Mighty’s PTSD Educational Resource” by The Mighty Staff — If you’re short on time and just want the basics, this resource is a great one-stop-shop for everything you need to know at a glance.

Debunking 5 Myths About PTSD” by Doc Springer — Written by a leading expert on PTSD, this list challenges our preconceived misconceptions about trauma and how it affects people. Number three is especially important.

24 Pictures That Prove PTSD Doesn’t Have a ‘Look’” by Sarah Schuster — How often have you heard someone say, “you don’t look like you have PTSD” or any other condition? This is such a frustratingly common statement to hear from well-meaning people when really, PTSD doesn’t have a “look.” It’s not always as obvious as someone jumping at any tiny sound or screaming themselves awake after a nightmare. PTSD is subtle, affects people of every walk of life, and could be affecting anybody around you. This list proves it.

What Is Complex PTSD?

“The effect of repeated/ongoing trauma changes the brain, and also changes the survivor at a core level.” — Lilly Hope Lucario

What’s the Difference Between PTSD and Complex-PTSD?” by Juliette V. — Have you heard of complex PTSD? This excellent article explains the important difference between PTSD and its lesser-known cousin C-PTSD, including symptoms and examples directly from Mighty Contributors.

11 ‘Habits’ of People Living With Complex PTSD” by Sheriden Garrett — From distrusting others to dissociation, this list compiles answers directly from the Mighty community on the “habits” they have due to living with C-PTSD.

12 Life-Impacting Symptoms Complex PTSD Survivors Endure” by Lilly Hope Lucario — This excellent article explains the life-impacting symptoms of complex PTSD, including some that you may not realize are connected to PTSD. Number 12 is eye-opening.

Types of PTSD You Might Not Know About

“Medical PTSD isn’t nearly as well recognized or well researched as it needs to be.” — Via Untethered 

What You Should Know About Chronic Illness-Induced PTSD” by Renee Fabian — Just as we need to stop thinking PTSD is only caused by combat, so too must we acknowledge that PTSD can be caused by a number of other traumatic situations and experiences, such as chronic illness. This piece by former staffer Renee Fabian explains what you need to know.

Medical PTSD: It’s Real and Impacts My Everyday Life” by Via Untethered  — Like PTSD caused by chronic illness, medical PTSD can be caused by any traumatic medical event such as a traumatic birth, medical malpractice, life-threatening illness, and more. Its triggers may involve hospital appointments or even your own body and how it responds to illness.

What Different Kinds of Flashbacks Are Really Like

“In effect, it feels like being re-traumatized, even though you are not actually experiencing the event for real.” — Monika Sudakov

Having a Flashback Is Not Simply Recalling a Memory” by Monika Sudakov — It’s hard to explain the experience of a flashback unless you’ve actually experienced one, and Hollywood has unfortunately failed to adequately represent what they are like. Forget everything you’ve seen on the silver screen; Monika Sudakov explains here what it’s really like to experience a flashback.

The Difference Between a Typical PTSD Flashback and an Emotional Flashback From C-PTSD” by Juliette V. — We spoke with Patrick Walden, LICSW, a trauma-informed treatment specialist about the difference between a “typical” flashback and an emotional flashback, a type often experienced in complex PTSD and which is not often discussed.

When You Feel a Flashback Going Through Your Body With Complex PTSD” by Tara R. — Flashbacks aren’t only experienced in the mind. In this article, contributor Tara R. explains the concept of a “somatic flashback” and how it physically affects her body.

PTSD Symptoms You Need to Know About

“The quiet hours of night are often horrifying for those with PTSD.” — Taraneh K.

Fawning: The Fourth Trauma Response We Don’t Talk About” by Juliette V. — We often talk about “fight or flight” responses to fear and trauma, but we usually miss the “freeze” response and we don’t often talk about the fourth. This article explains the four trauma responses with a full explanation of “fawning” — a trauma response that may be more common than you realize.

A Blow-by-Blow Account of a Night With Autonomic Hyperarousal and PTSD” by Monika Sudakov — When we go into a trauma response, such as fight or flight, without there being any danger present, we call this “autonomic hyperarousal” — one of the primary symptoms of PTSD. Here, Monika gives us an account of what it’s like to experience this every night, using one night as an example.

23 ‘Embarrassing’ Symptoms of PTSD We Don’t Talk About” by Matt Sloan — This is one from yours truly, though the vast majority of it consists of answers direct from the Mighty community on the “embarrassing” symptoms that we don’t talk about. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about with these symptoms, but they can feel embarrassing nonetheless. So, let’s end the stigma and share them with the world.

What to Know About PTSD, Sleep Disturbances and Nightmares” by Taraneh K. — PTSD flashbacks can happen when we’re awake or asleep, and just one way they can manifest is in nightmares. Taraneh explains what you need to know about sleep disturbances caused by PTSD, a common symptom including autonomic hyperarousal, insomnia, flashbacks, and night terrors.

Different Treatment Options for PTSD

“I will tell you — everyone I have spoken to, patient or therapist in this program, says it works.” — Julia Amburgey

What I Want You to Know Before You Start EMDR” by Julia Amburgey — Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is one of the gold-standard therapeutic models for treating trauma. In this article, Julia shares just a little of what you need to know before starting EMDR based on her experience with the therapy. It’s a great place to start.

What is Attachment-Focused EMDR and How Does It Work for Complex Trauma?” by Monika Sudakov — There isn’t just one type of EMDR therapy. In this article, Monika Sudakov explains her experience with attachment-focused EMDR, a less rigid model that can adapt to the individual needs of the client.

The Trauma Therapy You Probably Haven’t Heard Of” by Becca Risa Luna — Another type of trauma therapy is prolonged exposure therapy, a trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy that involves writing and talking about trauma head-on. As Becca says, “the only way out is through.”

Why Ketamine Infusion Therapy Was the PTSD Breakthrough I Needed” by Vanna Winters — It may be surprising, but ketamine infusion has been approved for medical use in conjunction with therapy for treating depression and trauma. Vanna explains her breakthrough experience with the infusions here. As a bonus, I recently checked in with Vanna (and another writer) two years after their infusions. You can read how they’re doing here.

Ways to Help a Loved One With PTSD

“While those around you may have the best intentions, these comments can be hurtful.” — Alison Chan

25 Helpful Things to Say to a Loved One With PTSD” by Eating Recovery Center — If you know someone who lives with PTSD, it can be hard to know what to say to help them. In this article via Eating Recovery Center, Jenni Schaefer shares the kinds of statements that can really help. Either share these with your well-meaning loved ones or use them with loved ones yourself.

8 ‘Harmless’ Comments That Actually Hurt People With PTSD” by Alison Chan — Like the above helpful comments, so too can we say extremely unhelpful comments that cause hurt rather than help loved ones. It’s just as important to know what not to say to someone living with trauma. Some of these comments may come from a place of stigma and misconception, but some of the more well-meaning comments may surprise you.

The Dos and Don’ts of Loving Someone With PTSD” by Alex Katwiga — To cap it all off, check out this list of dos and don’ts of loving someone with PTSD, some of which are extremely subtle but impactful in helping the one you love feel safe and validated.

Having a Sexual Relationship When You Have PTSD

“Ultimately for me the decision to try to sexually heal has been about so much more than having sex.” — Ashley Zaccaro

How I Learned to Have Sex After Losing My Virginity to Rape” by Ashley Zaccaro — There’s no doubt that PTSD can impact sex in a multitude of ways, especially if the traumatic incident involves sexual abuse or assault. Ashley Zaccaro offers hope for recovery, however, discussing how she made progress in being able to have a sexual relationship with a loving and supportive partner.

8 Ways to Cope If Sex Is Triggering Because of Past Trauma” by Felix Kalvesmaki — In this list, we asked our community for their tips for coping when sex is made triggering due to past trauma. Number six is especially important!

How PTSD Can Affect Sex (And What to Do About It)” by Max Harvey, Ph.D. — In this list, Max Harvey describes the ways PTSD symptoms can be triggered by sex and, ultimately, the ways we can begin to heal those triggers.

Daily Coping Tips for PTSD

“The real work began once I returned home, where I’ve since made daily choices to face my traumas.” — Kaden M. (he/they)

10 Things I’m Doing to Help Overcome My Trauma” by Kaden M. (he/they) — Coping with trauma isn’t as easy as having a little therapy and moving on. In this article, Kaden M. shares the daily things they are doing to overcome their trauma in addition to EMDR therapy.

20 Unexpected Coping Techniques for PTSD” by Danielle Lowe — Discovered over years of experience, some of the coping techniques people use may surprise us. That’s why we asked our community for their unexpected coping techniques for trauma, compiled here by Danielle Lowe.

4 Ways to Build Resilience Between Trauma Therapy Sessions” by Lynda Gutierrez — “Trauma therapy is hard,” Lynda Gutierrez says, and while it builds resilience, the space between therapy sessions can be difficult. Lynda shares some excellent advice for continuing to build that resilience between trauma therapy sessions.

Whether you’re here to help a friend or you’re seeking help yourself, trauma can be a lot to deal with alone. I hope these articles help you find your way toward the kind of fulfilling life you deserve to lead, free from the trauma that affected you. Remember, too, that you can join our safe and supportive groups to talk to other trauma survivors who really understand what it’s like.

Getty image by melitas

Originally published: June 28, 2022
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