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Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a stigmatized mental illness that is often misunderstood and each person living with PTSD experiences it differently. PTSD can occur after experiencing a traumatic event. Learn what the Mighty community has to say about what PTSD feels like in the video above.


We asked The Mighty’s Community members with PTSD to help raise awareness by sharing what living with PTSD feels like.

“It’s like I am living in the present, but I can’t connect to reality.” 

Your body tells you the places and people who were once safe are now enemies and you need to protect yourself at all costs.” 

“The physical effects of PTSD are intense: headaches, dizziness, chest pains, stomach aches and more.” 

“Sometimes it’s reliving the trauma over and over again. Other times you just can’t feel anything.” 

“It’s always worrying about what might trigger it. Trying to avoid certain situations and having to convince yourself it will be OK.” 

“It is flashbacks and dissociation from what is real and present. It is your mind and body shutting down so you can cope with what would be a flood of emotions.”

“My brain is always foggy and I can never seem to switch it off whether I’m awake or sleeping.”

“It feels like an unpredictable force is always lurking in the background, listening and watching for any triggers to act upon.”

“It means being hyper-aware of my environment at all times and constantly being surprised at what triggers me.”

“It’s like living in a dark room with a cracked glass floor. Anything could break it at any moment so you live in a constant state of anxiety.” 

“Raw and without any buffer. Sound is too loud, the sun is too bright and movement is all-threatening. All sensory nerve endings are exposed.”

“It feels like you’re treading water. When you get tired you start to drown, but you have to fight to swim back up for air. You’re perpetually exhausted.” 

“Feeling like a constant failure because you can’t even say ‘hello’ without reservations.” 

“Constantly trying to justify to yourself and others why the trauma was ‘bad enough’ to cause such an effect.”

“The constant battle of knowing you’re safe but never actually feeling safe.” 

PTSD is different for every person who lives with it.  Learning about their experiences can help reduce stigma and encourage people to get the help they deserve.

To join our PTSD Support Community go to and come join the conversation.

Originally published: May 12, 2021
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