"Something truly terrible has happened. Even though it has been some time since it occurred, I can't seem to stop thinking about it..."
When you experience a traumatic event, your mind replays the incident over and over in order to try to make sense of what happened. Only after it makes sense can the mind let the memory go. This is a part of your natural survival instinct and healing process. However, when the process goes on for too long, it stops being useful. You may be "stuck".
One of the hallmarks of posttraumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) is being unable to stop re-experiencing a traumatic event even after a month has gone by.
During the waking hours, the trauma memory might intrude on you as a powerful daydream; an image or thought that might keep popping up, or a smell or a sensation reminiscent of your trauma may bother you even though you are not in that situation any more. During your sleep, intrusive re-experiencing often comes in the form of nightmares that repeat night after night. You may begin to feel anxious about going to bed because you anticipate unpleasant dreams will find you in your sleep.
"I feel so amped up and jittery all the time. I just can't relax..."
Another hallmark of PTSD is reactivity: feeling more irritable or aggressive, hypervigilant of your surroundings, startling more easily and having trouble calming back down. You may have trouble with concentration. It is common after a trauma to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep; you may find that even when you do sleep, the sleep is fitful and leaves you feeling tired when you wake up. You may start to avoid situations that make you feel reactive and push away thoughts and feelings that are unpleasant.
If the description above sounds familiar, you may be suffering from PTSD.
There is no need to suffer for the rest of your life. With the right help, PTSD is a very treatable condition. Please talk to a trauma therapist like Dr. Lin for an evaluation.
For more information about PTSD, visit:
The National Center for PTSD
National Institute for Mental Health