One thing that people need to know about PTSD is that is paralyzes you. With me, this paralysis was evident in my lack of spontaneity, my loss of freedom, and the limited choices and locations that were “safe” for me to engage in or visit. One of PTSD’s major hallmarks is avoidance. I avoided my many triggers and essentially guarded my mind against potential triggers by avoiding many people and locations.
Some people with PTSD develop agoraphobia and will not leave their house, their safe area. Although never diagnosed with full-blown agoraphobia, I definitely experienced the panic that new areas, or areas with known triggers had on me. For three years, there were a lot of things I did not do, experiences I did not engage in, people I did not meet, and places I did not see-all because of PTSD.
When I did venture out, it was never on my own at first. I always had a person with me, an advocate, who could steer me away from potential triggers, or help to calm my panic ridden self if a trigger was unavoidable. After time and through therapy, I was able to safely navigate these areas as long as I had an “escape” plan at my disposal if the panic set in. The places that I personally deemed “safe” were a trip to the library (children’s section only-adult books may prove to much of a trigger), a once a week extended family dinner, and certain classes at the gym (where the average age was 65-less likelihood of running into a pregnant woman in class). Today, I have come to the realization that these familiar routines that I developed were truly a lifesaver to me during those times of crisis. Thank you to all those who made those experiences possible, I am forever grateful.
Thanks for reading,