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I'm Still Standing: PTSD and Avoidance

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According to the Mayo Clinic, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while, but they don't have PTSD — with time and good self-care, they usually get better. But if the symptoms get worse or last for months or even years and interfere with your functioning, you may have PTSD.

Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical in reducing symptoms and improve function.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within three months of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, or changes in emotional reactions.

I went into intrusive memories during my previous blog entitled, “My Own Personal experience: PTSD and Intrusive memories.” On this current blog, I will be discussing avoidance.

I am very familiar with this one because avoidance and I use to be best friends. Symptoms of avoidance may include:

•    Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
•    Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event

What took me such a long time to deal with PTSD and Major Depression was that I chose to avoid any topic in reference to my mother's murder.

Although I witnessed her death during an armed robbery, I chose to keep it trapped inside of me and avoided talking about it for many years. I also avoided visiting the Harlem neighborhood that we resided in during the time of this crime back in 1975. Time and time again, I attempted to visit our old hood, but I just couldn’t because of fear and avoidance.  I also avoided some of the activities that I once enjoyed participating in.

In late 2013, I finally realized that avoiding discussions in reference to my mother’s death did more harm than good. All the trapped in guilt, shame and anger were taking a huge toll on my mental and physical health.

I decided to become more committed to receiving care from mental health professionals. This wasn’t an easy process at first, but as time progressed it became second nature for me to attend appointments on a consistent basis which is what I failed to do so many times in the past.

In the words of Elton John, I'm still standing after all this time. It's not easy and I'm still a work in progress, but I'm still standing! On my next blog pertaining to mental health, I will discuss Negative changes in thinking and moods.

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