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Why I Explain My PTSD by My Symptoms

Explain PTSD symptoms - your specific symptoms - to friends. Explaining the specifics of your PTSD symptoms can reduce stress and ease symptoms. Find out why.

It can be difficult to explain posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms to friends, but it helps me to do so. PTSD symptoms include an array of possibilities such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, difficulty bonding, addiction, insomnia, and dissociation. People experience PTSD in very different ways, based on their trauma history, resilience, supports and a myriad of other factors. So here is why I find it beneficial to explain how my specific PTSD symptoms manifest themselves, and why you might too.

Explain What PTSD Symptoms Look Like to Friends

Many people have a narrow definition of PTSD. With so many veterans developing PTSD, it is understandable that a common perception of PTSD involves someone who has been in a combat situation. However, PTSD is not choosy. It impacts the military, emergency response personnel, victims of abuse, witnesses to abuse, and other individuals who have experienced significant trauma.

When I tell someone I have PTSD it is because I want them to understand me better. I want them to know that at times I might appear spacey or inattentive, react poorly to sudden changes in routines or plans, become hypervigilant in unfamiliar spaces, and seldom get enough sleep. In explaining my PTSD symptoms, I hope to set the stage for supportive interactions when my symptoms manifest.

If you find yourself avoiding situations or backing out of plans at the last minute or you feel trapped at times because you become anxious or agitated, it might be a chance to share some of your symptoms with friends and talk about how they impact you when they appear. It doesn’t even require much detail. For example, I tell friends, “I am hoping to come to your party, but I often get very nervous thinking about being around strangers, so I may not be in the right frame of mind to be there.”

Explain PTSD by Symptoms to Reduce Them

Once I began to explain my PTSD symptoms to my friends, something interesting happened. I found myself attending more functions, more comfortable asking someone to repeat themselves when I had lost focus on the conversation, and more able to respond to last-minute requests by taking a few moments to process. My friends and acquaintances have even begun to show me support by giving me advanced notice for changes, inviting me to arrive at gatherings early, or asking me if I need a break or would like to get some fresh air when we are in tight spaces.

By sharing my triggers and reactions, I have made it easier to join in activities. I find that knowing I have a way out of an uncomfortable situation that those around me can understand removes a significant amount of worry. When my stress is lower, my symptoms are more in control.

Do you have any thoughts on this? How much do you explain to friends and family about your symptoms? Please join in the conversation by leaving a comment below.

10 thoughts on “Why I Explain My PTSD by My Symptoms

  1. I don’t think I actually have it despite the nightmares. But I did want to ask if you believe talking about has helped? Do you feel better now than before you started talking?

    1. It has help me a good amount. For example, I tell my son and friends that I hang out the most; why I don’t seat with my back to the door. I also tell them about when we are in crowds of people. I told my partner about my problem sleeping and she got me some organic melatonin. So yes, it been beneficial to talk about it some, I don’t go into details.

      1. Thank you.

      2. If you don’t care I am going to share one of your blogs with my readers I will include your blog address and the book where you got the info from.
        Thank you

      3. The information on my site can be taken any time. History belongs to all of us!!

      4. Thank you.

      5. The post will reach more people if you click the ‘Edit’ at the bottom of your post and when it all comes up, add Tags such as: WWII, History, Military, Military History, etc.
        I’ve noticed from experience that when a post travels, the Tags don’t always trail along with it. Just trying to help.

      6. Oh, thank you. I’m learning this blogging stuff.

      7. Glad to help when I can. Other bloggers were patient with me when I started.

      8. Thank you

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