15 Jul What Should You Not Do When Dealing With PTSD
To begin with, don’t give up on them and do your research.
PTSD has some symptoms that are designed to push people away from them and keep them isolated. The main symptom clusters are avoidance, a re-experiencing, negative change in mood, and hyperarousal. All of those come in to play to cause the person to feel alone.
The Don’ts In PTSD
With avoidance, people with PTSD are often avoiding reminders of the trauma, and oftentimes, people and places. They are less likely to reach out to you or want to hang out. Try not to take offense, as they are suffering immensely. They might not even be able to see they are pushing people away, or they might think they are protecting themselves from further pain. Unfortunately, this avoidance instinct only leads to further pain, as they lose friends/support, and feel more lonely (even when they’re the ones avoiding).
The changes in mood often refer to depression. They’re not motivated to do things, and they can’t find the same joy they used to. And emotional numbness is common. This is where they might feel distant from friends/family, and just not connected with themselves. It can be really jarring to be around the people you love when you can’t even feel love. It’s also not a symptom that is commonly talked about, so it’s easy for the person to just assume they’re broken and alone, and it’s easy for others to be confused about their distance.
Hyperarousal means they’re also on guard. This ties into anger. Someone with PTSD could be set off with any sort of trigger, and sometimes they react with anger/irritability. Maybe you drop a pot lid, and all of a sudden, they’re angry and yelling, and they storm off. At the moment, it can be hard to realize that they’re reacting to a trigger. It also means that it can be hard to relax. They may feel like they’re always in danger. A lot of activities that should be fun have hidden difficulties that someone without PTSD wouldn’t consider. Movie theaters are hard because they’re full of people and dark. Anything with crowds is usually difficult. Or sitting facing away from the door in a restaurant. Or turning the corner of the block, you never know what’s on the other side. Little things that you never thought to keep track of are at the forefront of their mind. This leaves them distracted, jumpy, afraid, and irritable. Which means it can be hard to connect.
And re-experiencing symptoms mean nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts. The flashback is a commonly known symptom of PTSD, but there are also intrusive thoughts. They’re pretty self-explanatory. Thoughts and memories of the trauma plague them all the time, and very unexpectedly. Anything can trigger them, leading to immense internal distress. It’s a living hell, constantly being forced to remember the thing you are desperate to forget. As you can imagine, it can become very hard for them to focus and be the person that you know and care about.
The point is that you should do the proper research about their illness, so you can better understand them. Sometimes they might act in ways that are irrational or hurtful. By learning what you can about the disorder, you can maintain your relationship and boundaries with them, and have healthy or supportive interactions.