Here is a list of symptoms and first aid type steps for weathering the storm of PTSD.
I realized that Hubby and I are generally clueless and often blindsided when PTSD attacks me. When I have the flu, Hubby knows that I will be need extra rest and help around the house for many days. He also knows if my fever were to get too high or other danger signs of when to call a doctor or seek help. We did not have these same tools, so we are trying to create it now.
This is a work in progress and is based off of my own preferences and needs, and should NOT be assumed it will apply to everyone with PTSD. This has been created by discussion with Hubby and my therpapist all working together. I am hoping my discoveries will help start useful discussions and proactive plans for surviving PTSD crisis and crashes into depression.
Symptoms of a PTSD crisis:
- Extremely irritable
- Every little thing seems hugely bothersome and impossible to do
- Withdrawal from everyone, isolating self
- Angry outbursts
- Nothing is right – Food seems overcooked, kids are too loud, show is too dull, etc
- Body aches and pains
- Trouble sleeping
- Disturbing dreams and daydreams
- Suicidal ideation and images
- Intrusive negative thoughts
- Feeling hopeless, like life is pointless and only full of pain and suffering
- Overeating, bingeing
First Aid for a PTSD crisis, steps for the sufferer:
- Try to tell someone you trust how you are feeling
- Schedule an appointment with your therapist
- Do comforting activites
- Be gentle with yourself
- Remember that feelings are never permanent and this too shall pass
- Remember you are strong
- Remember you have survived this before and can do it again
- Try to get your body moving – take a walk, do an activity or exercise you enjoy
- Try to eat healthy foods and don’t beat yourself up if you overeat, don’t eat at all, or otherwise choose unhealthy options
Fist Aid for a PTSD crisis, steps for the helper:
- Do not take any words or actions personally
- Ask guiding questions
- How are you feeling?
- Is there anything you want to talk about?
- Is there anything you can do to help?
- Are you in pain? Offer ice packs and ibuprofen
- Are you thinking about hurting yourself? – If yes, ask if the sufferer has a plan, and if yes seek help immediately
- Don’t leave her alone too long, some space and quiet time is good, but beyond a few hours it may make her feel abandoned or cause the suicidal images to get stronger
- Don’t touch her unless she seems comfortable – try holding her hand or giving a hug, you’ll see if she pulls back
- Take care of the kids and household chores, she needs to rest
- She already feels guilty for needing to rest, reassure her you are fine and understand
- Tell her she is not crazy, that this normal for PTSD
- Tell her the feelings are not permanent and will pass
- Tell her you love her and will be there no matter what
- Encourage her to write, blog, or draw to express those feelings, no matter how dark
- See if she wants a neck rub, all that stress will have her tight and knotted
Please feel free to add your own to my list, I’d love to hear what works for you, or what doesn’t.