The Mighty Logo

14 ‘Defining Moments’ That Made People Seek Treatment for PTSD

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced domestic violence or emotional abuse, sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. 

You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

There often comes a point in life where the condition you’ve been used to “managing” on your own becomes so untenable that something’s got to give. Often, it’s us who breaks under the weight of our untreated conditions, and in the rubble of that breakage we have to pick up the pieces. This is, sadly, so often the case when you’re living with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

• What is PTSD?

While it can take six months or more for PTSD symptoms to show up after a traumatic event, you aren’t alone if it took you a while to seek treatment. That’s why we asked our trauma community for the “defining moments” that made them finally seek treatment for their trauma. Remember, it’s never too late to seek help, and there are a ton of PTSD treatment methods available with high success rates. If you think you might be struggling with symptoms PTSD, please reach out to your general practitioner or therapist. They’re here to help.

Here’s what our community told us:

“A police officer called me at work after responding to my house where my then-husband was trying to disable the alarm system. The officer encouraged me to seek an order of protection. That was my ‘ah-ha’ moment.” — @anlander

“When I started having regular panic attacks and/or dissociation at my university. It absolutely impacted my studies. That’s when I decided to seek help (with the gentle nudging of an awesome student counselor).” — @ashirley212

“I was abused growing up and my method of coping was to essentially stay busy all the time — double majoring in college while working full-time and then working 80+ hours a week after graduation. About three and a half years ago, my mind and body said ‘no more’ and I collapsed into the worst panic attack I had ever had. It was several months before I could work again and even now, I stick with petsitting because I can’t handle too much person-to-person interaction. A total breakdown shook me into finally seeking treatment.” — @kathryn_rae

“I had my first panic attack and I thought that I was going to die. I was 21 years old at the time. That was 20 years ago and I’m still participating and practicing several treatments for my PTSD.” — @lauraray5

“I was abused throughout childhood and onward, by my mother. I had arrived with my husband in her town to visit her, and I had a physical collapse reaction. Splitting headache, sobbing. After that visit (which was awful) I went on antidepressants and tried to find a therapist. The first one told me I ‘could not’ go no-contact with my mother. So I dumped them.” — @joybee

“I felt controlled and suffocated at times with what happened to me in my childhood. It controlled my personality and made me very tricky as a person. Often I would be triggered with small incidents or would get overemotional with the acts of kindness and generosity. On top of that, I became very vulnerable as a person as I was scared all the time; what if someone found out or what if it happened again? All of this stuff reached a point where it affected my daily routines and affected my dealings with people. Either I would hate a person or would cling onto the ones who made me feel comfortable. Life became very turbulent and I felt directionless, and then came suicidal ideation. That’s when I convinced myself to seek professional help. Thankfully, I found the courage to reach out.” — @mridul

“When I stopped driving and wanted to stay home because I was afraid all the time, that is when I knew I needed to see a psychologist.” — @meowtwo

“I sought treatment after literally reliving the event all day for days.” — @blubrrypancakes

“I had previously sought treatment for what I thought was ‘just’ depression and anxiety. I didn’t know what I had experienced could be considered trauma. I figured that out while I was dating my last boyfriend (this was 6.5 yrs ago). When we broke up (due to my mental health struggles and constant flashbacks/triggers), I knew I needed support that was specifically trauma-focused.” — @sarahjane_1119

“After the birth of my second child, I went into a tailspin. I became hypervigilant and paranoid. I started falling back into old and self-destructive coping strategies. I went on meds and was so ashamed I used my child as an excuse to seek help. It took almost a year before I got a diagnosis of PTSD and I refused to accept it. My therapist gave me ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. It was so relieving and I finally understood and could begin to talk about the trauma. It saved my life.” — @melton876

“For me, endless night terrors. Then daytime flashes. Smell triggers. I didn’t even know what triggers were. Being exhausted from being hypervigilant. I went to my primary care doctor. I truly thought I was going ‘crazy.’” — @kanulani

“My girlfriend at the time pushed me to, which I’m really grateful for. According to her, I would ‘thrash around’ in my sleep and kick her. I was having vivid nightmares many times a night. I was losing time and frequently doing things I didn’t remember doing.” — @catpi

“My mother asking me to take over her finances. I was unprepared for what was to come. It sent me into a complete tailspin.” — @monika-sudakov

“My intimate relationship was suffering. Flashbacks and horrible memories would come flooding my mind when I was with a partner sexually.” — @ceceliaphillips

Getty Images photo via bymuratdeniz

Originally published: July 7, 2022
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home