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Sharing strategies to help with PTSD

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

One of my biggest learnings has been - PTSD is not like a broken arm. When you break your arm, it mends. PTSD is with you for life. It took me ages to recognise that I'd been triggered. Some of the simplest things - like going to the shopping centre at the beginning of winter and seeing the multi-colour shirts - red, blue, black squares. The hardest part for me is identifying the trigger because the pacing heart, the sweats, the panic, the fear doesn't happen immediately. It happens after I walk out of the shopping centre.For the first few years after being diagnosed with PTSD I was hell bent on identifying the trigger. Now - I don't worry. I simple accept I'm triggered - do my breathing, relaxation to beautiful music, write down my feelings and emotions, talk with my husband. Let him know I've been triggered. Most times my cats won't come near me while I'm working through a 'phase', but they certainly know when I've come out the other side. They come and give me lots of comfort and love. The down side of how I manage is to drink alcohol - to stop the feelings and emotions. It doesn't work, but it helps go to sleep. I'm not recommending drinking as a strategy!!

I have had 2 excellent psychologists that helped me. It's important to find someone other than those close to you to talk to. One was very good at helping me identify what was happening - e.g. being super alert, wanting to save or please people. Recognising these things helped to build better relationships with my work colleagues and my friends. I have conversations in my head - oh, you just want to please because something has frightened you. Then I say - you're okay, you're safe, you can say what you need to.

Basically, the strategy of self talk in a challenging way - I challenge what I'm doing, what I'm thinking. But I also recognise the little girl who screams out when things happen and comfort her. Very important to know she hurts terribly and needs comfort. The comfort she never received as a child.

159 Replies 159

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi everyone

It's been awhile and my thread has been moved from the PTSD and trauma forum to the Long term support over the journey forum. Great move I think.

Yes, it is a long term strategy that needs renewing, refreshing, revisiting all the time. Life throws up some difficult things - e.g. needing to go for a medical procedure. Wow, has that set off my PTSD and anxiety. So over the past couple of months I've been spending time bringing myself down. Of course if I admit to myself - this isn't going to happen till after I've had the procedure.

Using the public health system doesn't help any as one has to wait until there is available space. At least I've been put in Category 1, however, this causes even more stress as these are 'high priority' cases. Hmmmmm.....

I had my first visit with the specialist this week and he agrees with me that it's probably all okay, but it's better to be sure - than sorry. I've a booking to see the anaesthetist in 2 weeks then I'll be scheduled for surgery. How frightening is all that.

Beautiful butterfly wings (Starting New) - I'm so with you and understanding your situation. We'll both get there and come out fighting.

Sleep is the biggest problem now because I toss and turn with worry. I'm finding though - getting a good 1/2 hour exercise in helps to alleviate that. Also, my eating regime is improving. Ensuring I get adequate vitamin C and protein every morning. My energy levels are improving and think more able to manage my anxiety.

Have been a little toey with hubby who is so totally there for me. Love him to bits, but get frustrated with the little things. One good thing is I get over it pretty quickly.

The biggest issue I find is an upset digestive system. Ouch, it can go on for days - nothing I try helps to settle it. It only settles when I've settled mentally and much less anxious. It is a realisation I came to the other day that all my years of upset bellies have been due to my anxiety. Wow, that is so awesome to come to that point in my understanding of what happens. It explains so much. Mainly because there was never any explanation for my upset bellies (it wasn't anything I ate, anything I drank, no parasites)

My journey is going to be very full this year.

Kind regards all


Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello Pamela,

Congratulations on this very important thread being moved to long term support section...Well done as this is an important thread..

Pamela I’m sorry to hear that your upcoming operation is causing your anxiety to become high..My anxiety can get the better of me most days, but I’m learning and practicing daily Mindfullness...I practice 3 time a day, but if I start getting panicky I’ll do it then as well.

I have found that doing Mindfullness does help a lot to stop those negative thoughts brought on by anxiety, I’m wondering Pamela if you do Mindfullness at all and if so does it help you at all...If you don’t do it is it something that you could try and see if it works for you....

I couldn’t even start to imagine how frightened you would be having to have an operation...I hope the tests go good for you....

Anxiety can cause a lot of physical illness I think..Although now it’s good to know that your anxiety is causing you sick sore belly,, I hope that you are more relaxed in knowing that and can work on your anxiety to settle your belly...

Pamela, my thoughts, love and care are with you and i hope so much that you are feeling okay today...

Lots of love dear Pamela and hugs..💜🤗..


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Dear Pamela and Bindi

It is great to have thread all about it and our triggers and more. I was fortunate to have finally received a diagnosis not long after I was in a depression hole and had major medical issues.

I relate to your story alot Pam about the traumatic childhood mine was mostly living in hospital alot with both Asthma and Epilepsy and if i wasn't having an Epileptic seizure it was the difficulty of breathing from the Asthma. Every school kid that I have ever known always bullied me, which I think brings me to what may be my trigger.

Feelings of Rejection. It annoys me still today when I see or hear of people talking other people down. When that happens I usually walk away and remind myself that it is their problem and their loss, not mine!

Techniques - Whenever I had trouble breathing I always was ready to sit down and do the slow deep breathing; don't do it as much today probably because it has become automatic.

I agree with you that being aware of your triggers is half the battle and I am not totally sure of that as I did not go through that with my therapist when I did my CBT. I still work to practice it today. It is an ongoing process trying to rethink through strategies to conquer a variety of different situations with different people. But I am no longer as people shy as I was.

Another Trigger might be how I feel in group settings, not being able to get a word in - feeling of not wanted.

But my therapist taught me that I always have a role to play even if you do not contribute verbally. That made me realise that I do have a role to play in committees and other groups and now I am starting to see the benefits of it amongst professionals in the National Kidney Research Community.

Enough about me. I will certainly follow this thread along with Mandy. I may share more techniques as my mental health studies advance more. I agree with bindi on sleep as well. When I have sleepless nights I find that I cannot think for myself very well, and just need time out!


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Irene

Welcome to the thread. Your story is greatly appreciated. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I've been struggling with managing my PTSD, anxiety and depression for the past few months. I think I'm back on track now. However, things do spring up that set me off again.

Having said that though, I find it easier and easier to regroup, and to get back to feeling okay. It's interesting when I was triggered late November, I began to put into place all the strategies and coping mechanisms I've shared and those that others have shared. It's taken some time, but I'm feeling human again.

Something that I've learnt this latest episode is to try to decatastrophise whatever is my cause of anxiety. It can be difficult especially when you have no control over the outcome. So what does all this mean?

One common type of cognitive distortion is called catastrophising. When catastrophising, the importance of a problem is exaggerated, or the worst possible outcome is assumed to be true. By learning to question your own thoughts using a CBT technique called cognitive restructuring, you can correct many of these distortions.

I have to confess, as a student for learning to decatastrophise - I probably got an F (fail). LOL. But my philosophy is - I will keep trying, so next time it will work!!

Would like to hear from others about their experiences and techniques for managing their triggers. Feel free to post.

Kind regards


I'm glad you are back on track Pamela.

I've struggled this summer worse than normal. Unfortunately even taking to my psychologist about what was happening was making me so upset combined with a number of other significant stressors learning to deal with the PTSD was put in the too hard basket & I had to just try to survive as best as I could. Coping mechanisms included walking out when I became triggered. This is unhelpful because it reinforces the negative thoughts but I haven't been in a head space to cope any better.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

HI Pam and Elizabeth

I think that we all have our downs when we get flashbacks haunting us from the past. I have also found this summer worse than usual think it may be weather related with all of the weather-related disasters that are happening in the news around the country.

I can relate to your digestive problems Pam. I had trouble with diarrhea for a while and it has been going up and down in line with my stress levels. But I was offered an o-t-c fix and it has worked for the time being. I think it is at times like this that practicing mindfulness and relaxation helps us. But trying to make it habitual can be a battle.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Elizabeth, Irene and everyone else reading

This summer has been incredibly dry. In all my years I've never known it to be so dry. The rain we got a few weeks ago was such a relief. I went and stood in it for awhile.

I'm really sure the weather does impact on one's mental health, so sometimes it's very difficult to work out how to manage it. Maybe recognising it and acknowledging it helps.

Elizabeth, sorry to hear your stressors have been significant for you. I understand why, and must confess that when I heard the news reports of what was happening down south my thoughts and heart went to you. There was a program recently on survivors of Black Saturday. I don't expect you watched it. I couldn't. You talk about walking out and that this reinforces your negative thoughts. I think walking out is good, it is learning how to change those negative thoughts that is the difficult thing. Which you are completely aware of. Maybe having a basket of tools that contain positive things you like when you walk out. E.g. having a bubble bath, glass of wine, calling a friend, getting your toe nails painted, watching a great movie (preferrably a comedy). Do you have a list of the things you like in life?

Irene, agree that mindfulness and relaxation helps a lot. I use these all the time, especially at night when I try going to sleep. Making it a habit is easy for me. I much prefer to be relaxed than have a pounding heart. Thank you for getting back to me.

Kind regards


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi everyone

It's been awhile. Things were getting to me so I took time out. Back now to offer assistance to those doing it tough. There are so many of you I want to say hello too, however, I'd spend my time saying hellos rather than offering assistance. So please excuse me if I don't pop around to you all. You are in my thoughts though.

Has your PTSD been set off by what's happening with COVID-19 or been in lockdown?

Here are some ideas to think about: -

Generally being in lockdown is a pretty safe place to be (but I understand difficulties if you're in a relationship that is not good. I'll do another post for how you can manage under these circumstances)

  • In lockdown means you can tell yourself - I'm safe, there is nothing to hurt me. Repeat these self messages regularly.
  • Call on all the tools you've learnt - mindfulness, grounding, meditation, cognitive behavioural and emotional focussed therapy.
  • Doing things you like to do around the house, e.g. walk in the garden or in local parks (if there aren't too many people out there), exercise (skipping rope, watching PE exercise on youtube), communicating with family and friends via phone, social media, baking, playing games with the kids or yourself online.
  • Catching up with Beyond Blue forums and helping out where you can to lift people's spirits. There is a lot of positive things happening out there in the world along with all the negative things. Try focussing some time on the good.
  • Stop watching - news reports and current affairs; movies and tv shows that will cause fright and flight response. That's a simple one. We all want to know what's happening in the news, however, we can do this with limits. For short bursts and not listening to the details.
  • Start some projects you've been putting off - e.g. sorting photo albums, spring cleaning, gardening.
  • Get some of what you need. Acknowledge your differences - are you an introvert or an extrovert, i.e. how do you get your energy from yourself (introvert) or from other people (an extrovert)
  • If you are an introvert - try to find a space and place for yourself that is your time. Lock yourself away in a room if need be, but get that space. Think of the extroverts you are living with and how hard that might be for them.
  • If you are an extrovert - try to keep up with your social contacts through phone and social media, get out and exercise in some way that is within the limits being set by authorities. Think of the introverts you live with and their needs.

Thank you Pamela, I'm sorry things have been tough for you and I hope you are feeling better. I've had to limit my time on the forums because of the amount of stress I've been under and some of the relevant threads were triggering.

Your suggestions are very helpful and make sense in most cases. Unfortunately not all of them work for me. I had reached a crisis point prior to covid-19 with PTSD being very bad combined with other stresses leaving me very unwell. I had been given assistance to arrange support to help including respite to give me a complete break. Covid 19 has stopped all of this shattering hope in making a recovery.

You stated that lockdown keeps us safe. While this is true in general but it means I can't rely of accessing medical help/ advice for me husband. We can no longer attend the GP clinic & phone visits do not enable her to assess his lungs. His specialist has told me to keep him out of hospital at all costs. I need to look after him as best as I can at home. My fear is not so much about the virus itself but the risk of my husband experiencing complications related to his condition and getting no help.

I have been very tired lately partly due to MH issues & stress. I have a lot of things I need to do which can be done while in lockdown, Unfortunately tiredness & anxiety is sapping motivation to do these things. I would appreciate ideas to help me overcome these issues.

Hi Elizabeth CP

Thank you for responding and your kind words. Lovely to talk again. I did think of you with love and concern during the disaster we were experiencing late last year and earlier this year and wondered how you managed. It would have been extremely difficult I'm sure.

Part of the strategy for yourself, is believing in yourself. From everything you write and everything you do, I see you as a fine, wonderful person able to cope with anything life throws at you.

Looking after your hubby to make him comfortable and ensure things are okay, now that he can't get to the hospital - is both physically and mentally draining. I'm not surprised you are tired, anxious and sapped of motivation. So be kind to yourself - please? Do what you can, when you can. Don't have such high expectations of yourself.

Yes, I understand why you are concerned about complications related to his condition and not getting any help. However, what is the reality of that? Surely the ambulance, local GP, or hospital can provide assistance - in a sterile environment where he could not be at risk. Have you talked about this with your GP and/or the hospital?

Are you maintaining phone/online contact with your support network (e.g. family and friends)? I find this really helpful for myself. I'd go crazy just being here with my husband and no one to talk to or to play games with online.

You talked about reaching a crisis point prior to COVID-19 and your hopes for a recovery are shattered. That's being very hard on yourself. I think it's only natural that you, along with many others are finding the COVID-19 situation extremely stressful, anxiety provoking and depressing. IT IS. Though you have lived through many frightening situations, this is just another one to navigate and come out the other side. Maybe it will last longer that anyone wants, but that's it. I find letting go of what I cannot control, accepting and acknowledging what is happening helps me move on. It allows me to grieve and to release the emotions and the feelings that I'm trying to push down and not acknowledge. What do you think?

Kind regards