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10 Things on My Holiday Wish List as Someone With PTSD

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I have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following my experiences with rape and sexual assault. Every person with PTSD has their own story — many have PTSD from war or other traumatic events, but these are the items I have on my wish list.

• What is PTSD?

1. Heavy blanket

I recently bought myself a heavy blanket and it has become one of my favorite go-to items when I am having a panic attack or just have overwhelming anxiety. There are lots of options for this – you can buy a special weighted blanket or, if you’re on a budget, just find a thick, warm blanket with some weight to it (I got mine at Costco for $24).

2. Journal and pen

No matter what experience has led to the diagnosis of PTSD, a journal and a pen make an excellent choice for a gift! One of the ways many of us heal is by processing the traumatic event(s), and writing is a safe space to do that.

3. iTunes gift card

Music is so healing, no matter what the cause of PTSD. You could also give me a playlist instead of your favorite music that helps you in times of trouble. Giving me an iTunes gift card allows me to pick out songs that will speak to me, so either option has benefits!

4. A small trinket

This can be any special little item, preferably one that fits in a pocket. Maybe it’s a stone, a small toy or even a piece of jewelry. Anything small that can provide a sensory experience. Grounding is very important when you have flashbacks related to PTSD, so having something in your pocket at all times literally gives you something to hold on to when you feel disconnected from the world around you.

5. A handwritten note

Whether you are on a budget, or just want to give that special person in your life a more personalized gift, a handwritten note telling them that you’re there for them, that you believe in them and that you care about them can really brighten someone’s holiday. Include homemade goodies if you want!

6. Self-soothing items

One of my biggest struggles stemming from my history of rape and sexual assault is self-harming. As I studied Psychology in undergrad, I learned that sometimes the best response to a craving (like wanting to cut) is the opposite reaction. So, in my case, instead of going through with hurting my body, I take the time to really care for my body. Aromatherapy items, bubble bath, body butter, scented candles, etc. It is often difficult to take care of our bodies when we have gone through something traumatic, so even if they don’t suffer with self-harm, they can still really benefit from this.

7. Fidget toys

A small fidget toy can make a great gift for someone who is living with PTSD. Maybe it’s something to keep at their desk at work, or maybe it’s something to keep on hand in case they become anxious. Either way, these toys can be calming and grounding.

8. Noise-canceling headphones

Noises can be very overwhelming. Noise-canceling headphones help create a mental safe space – whether you’re listening to audio books, meditation guides or your favorite music. You can’t go wrong with these.

9. Home art therapy supplies

Those of us with PTSD often have pain we have trouble communicating with words. Art therapy is a great way to express feelings without having to say anything. This can include grown-up coloring books, painting supplies, charcoals, clay or any medium that can be therapeutic.

10. YouTube video

This is my favorite option from the list. When I disclosed to a friend (who also has PTSD) what I have experienced and my own diagnosis, he made me a 15-minute-long personal YouTube video telling me that it gets better, that I will be OK. It made me feel special, like I mattered and it served as a reminder to keep going even when it’s difficult. I often go back to that video and re-watch it on my bad days. What a unique way to reach out to someone who is struggling – to offer them hope.

Unsplash photo via Rawpixel


Originally published: December 1, 2017
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