I have a condition called Complex PTSD which is a form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Follow this link to understand more about this condition as it will help you understand why I feel the way I do.
The main issue with my condition is that I’m constantly looking out for anything that might be a threat. This means that I’m always anxious and watchful for danger. Hearing the neighbours or people talking outside puts me on edge and I go into fight, flight, or freeze mode.
When I am outside, I become overly watchful and this affects my spatial awareness. I feel quickly overwhelmed by busy places with lots of people and will feel frustrated because I want to get out but feel trapped.
For this reason, I don’t mind social distancing or staying at home but I feel isolated when I’ve had flashbacks or nightmares. I experience emotional flashbacks which means I am more likely to panic than relive traumatic events. This is because I can’t remember a lot of the traumas, I simply remember how they felt.
The virus itself feels threatening and when I go out it adds to my anxiety. Signs in shops, masks, and restrictions are a reminder of this threat. I try to challenge these fears by going out and accepting that much of my anxiety is based on past events. I’m still aware of the need to slow the progress of the virus so I follow government guidelines as much as possible.
Part of having CPTSD means I am prone to overthinking and catastrophizing. I often worry that things will never change and that the restrictions are now permanent. Again, I try to challenge this by questioning the likelihood of this happening. It doesn’t help that the restrictions seem too complicated and inconsistent in how they’re enforced. I often feel like things aren’t changing or that they’re getting worse.
This undermines my confidence in how the authorities are dealing with the virus.
Most of the time I’m able to deal with the difficult situation by accepting that there isn’t much I can do to change government policies except try to follow the restrictions. I try to distract myself by keeping busy and doing things that will make my life better when things get back to normal. This includes learning new skills, doing online courses, looking for work, and planning for the future.
I always try to stay aware of how I feel and remind myself that my condition will make things seem much worse than they are. Practicing self-care is important. I try to eat well, go out for walks and keep in touch with friends.
One of the most positive things about social distancing is that it’s given me space to focus on myself. I’ve used the tools I learnt in therapy to deal with and resolve a lot of my issues.
I feel that when the restrictions are lifted and life returns to normal, I’ll have a different perspective on life. This is exciting but also a bit scary because it’s new, and my natural response is to feel anxious. I’m optimistic though and I know that I’ve got through tough times and changes in life before.
The main thing is to stay aware, keep busy and remind myself that this is a temporary situation and whatever happens I’ll get through.