Guilt and PTSD; Impact of PTSD in My Life
Guilt and Survivorship Side of PTSD in My Life
As I said in my Bio to this Piece, I suffered my first episode of Traumatic experiences, back in the early 80’s, and have dealt with it for over 30 plus years in silence. Like many of other survivors, whom suffered in silence, and who continue to suffer in silence, I am finding that most of my reactions to my surroundings deals with many emotions.
But I am finding out that between fear and guilt, lies most of my other emotions which seem to rear their ugly heads and influence how I deal with everyday events. Within these emotions, guilt has driven me to move my life in a direction of wanting to “Save” others from pain, both emotional and physically speaking.
Often times, my want to save others also put me on a path of self sacrifice and basically put me on a path of a suicide mission, to resolve the “Guilt” side of my emotions. Since the taking of my life was and is not an option, at least not by my own hand, I had to make every attempt of self-harm appear to be an accident; which of course caused me to experience more traumatic exposures on a regular basis.
Psychology Today had a wonderful article on Survivor’s Guilt, written by Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D. Titled:
“How to Be Yourself Six Tips for Handling Survivor Guilt.”
You see, although I survived my first Traumatic event, I knew that I should have not lived thought it, due to the viciousness of the event itself. Surviving this episode and seeing and living the aftermath of that event, brought me to see that everyone around was potentially dangerous for me, if I let them too close or gave them the opportunity to get close; yet, I knew that I should have died and therefore I should not have been made to suffer any added traumatic events. I was, and at times when I go to that “dark space,” I am wrong in this assumption.
It’s this mentality that even brought me more exposure to traumatic events, as I was setting myself up to lose my life, while rescuing others from events that possibly would cause them to suffer from PTSD and the emotions I have been suffering and dealing with. This extended to setting up a dangerous recovery of accident scene automobiles that were in very precarious situations, and then injecting myself into the movement of the recovery process, to protect everyone around me.
Even if that incident involved the recovery of already deceased persons, I would grow angry and start feeling guilt that it was them and not me. Why did they have to suffer, whatever they suffered, when I have suffered so much and would have been happy to have taken their place, just to spare their loved ones the anguish of having the victim’s life taken so abruptly.
It seems, in “hind-sight,” that I was feeling like I was so damaged that I deserved to have my life wiped out, and the people who did pass had no reason to have that end placed upon them. “What did they do, to deserve this?” Was my ongoing question. I never found an answer, but I did continue to live in this damaged and sometimes dysfunctional life, in spite of my trying repeatedly to put myself at risk, to take their place.
How To Be Yourself: Six Tips For Handling Survivor’s Guilt
Self Harm and My Experiences With It
Again, I am going to direct you to a great article on Self Harm, that I enjoyed reading in Psychology Today. Pamela D. Garcy Ph.D. (Book Named “Fearless You”) “6 Damaging Beliefs About Grief And What You Can Do.”
This article relates directly with my wanting to place myself in harms way, to replace the death of a person whom was involved in an incident and lost their life. It does not excuse it, but yet it outlines some of the reasoning behind the feelings and the urge to get angry and to want to have one’s life put in the place of, and feelings of being cheated out of the opportunity to have that choice.
I have fought this not only in my professional life, but also in the realms of my personal life, when someone who was close to me whom passed away as well. As I sought to make such substitutions, I found my attempts were in vein, and actually caused sufferance of added traumatic injury, both physically and emotionally, in over 12 events beyond the first that occurred in 1982.
The level of Self Harm that I am familiar with, is all too often not discussed in this context; However, it is non-the-less Self Harm. My familiarity in my personal life goes into Isolationism, Self sabatoge, food deprevation, Procrastination, self care, Picking at old injuries to bleed and cause direct physical pain, as well as other Depression related activities, such as sleeping too much.
I often go to some of these things, when I have had one or more of my triggers set off, and where I first go into isolationism to get away and take stock, of what is going on around me. Guilt plays a lot into this and these steps of Self-harm, and in one way or another I end up self doubring which brings me to the other types of self-harm.
LIke many other sufferers, of PTSD, the degree of these types of Self harm, varies depending on the trigger and the reaction to the trigger, at the moment We are triggered. Since PTSD is non-standard in its effects and how they are handled, the degree will vary amount. As we are also individuals, the effects and the level of degree is also individually based.
Avoiding Personal Encounters
Even to this day, I find that I encounter episodes which some would consider Self-harm; even if I don’t cut on myself, I have been known to cause injury or fester existing injuries at times and my most prevailing acts include Isolationism and self sabotaging behavior.
Encountering new people and making possible connections with other people is most difficult for me. When trust issues are triggered, from family members or existing friends, I often find myself just wanting to have no body near me, or in my proximity. This becomes especially difficult at times when I start feeling like I want to re-enter the dating scene.
At these times, I often depriving myself of food, sleep, Losing time among other things that I do, to prevent or give me reasons not to step out of my comfort zone. I often get angry when I am questioned about this behavior, because in my mind I am trying to “Save” everyone from “ME.” That I am so damaged that no one should have to endure dealing with my ghosts and baggage. Then I move to using the “Trust” issue, which I have to admit I am, like many PTSD sufferers are, not a very trusting person.
Lord only knows that guilt sets in, when I do allow myself out there in the “No-Mans” world of comfort zone, and someone pushes me away or I start getting mixed signals from them. I know that even watching the T.V. Sometimes triggers off an episode where all I want to do is sabotage my life and all that is going well in my life, because it is dragging me out of my comfort zone; like dating or the loss of a memory of a loved one that passed is brought back to my attention, because of the movie.
I have met Ladies in the vein of wanting to re-enter the Dating scene. I hear most of my single friends tell sorted nightmarish stories about dates that go wrong, or did not have the optimal results. They share their fears and anxieties that they have experienced and the ”Rules” they have built up over a time of dating, in today‘s dating environment.
Not only are the stresses of meeting a new person, comes into play, but it’s my experience that honesty is the best policy. The caviat to this is how much is too much and when is it not enough. I suppose that everyone has this question, when meeting someone new. However, the problem is that not only does the normal expectations exist, but trying to get past my past, seemingly gets in the way And alarm bells start going off and typically the date goes well, but then I seem to find myself “Ghosting” the other person out of feeling “shame” or ”guilt.”
I have heard that old adage of “Get Over It,” or “You Have To Move Past It, and Move On,” so many times, that the moment I hear this, I am off for the races to get away from whom ever spouted the comments. It’s not that easy For me, and I know it’s not easy for sufferers and survivors of PTS.
Now, I know that I have to work past the effects of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), and I am working on it daily (Or at least I think I am). A good book for me, that I use on a regular basis, is ”Getting Past Your Past.” I will admit that the firat time I started reading this, I was triggered in ways that were crazy to me. This book, sent me in spirals of depression and anxiety, but let me suggest that if you decide to get it for a loved one, please tell them to take it in doses, and not try to digest the book in one or two sitting. But it was helpful. You can find it on Amazon. The link below will take you to it.
Getting Past Your Past
Support Networks, Work!
In this article, I shared a lot of personal information about Guilt and Surviving PTSD. As I try to do, I share these experiences, for several reasons. One of which is to help those who are suffering from the aftermath of a traumatic experience, to know they are not alone. Secondly, to educate their loved ones and friends, on what someone may be experiencing and that will help them understand their loved one who suffers daily with the effects of PTSD.
I have found through my own experiences, that having and knowing that there is a support network available, which does not judge them for what is going on. I will admit that even at times when I should go and seek out someone from my support network, I don’t seek them out. My excuse? Well I use the one that says “I don’t want to take you for granted,” and usually when asked that is my go-to. But knowing they are there, and that they are reliable, sometimes is enough for me to push through what ever I am going through.
With that said, dealing with Guilt, Anguish, Pride, Anxiety and Trying to Survive the triggers of my many Traumatic events, seems to be coming the foundation of most of my reaction(s), to everyday events. Now, this is my finding and realizations I find that fits me. And this realization comes from the hard and difficult work I have gone through with my therapists, and with talking with my support network; which by the way is still pretty limited after working on my recovery over the last 4 or 5 years.
I hope that this information helps you to understand your loved one, who is suffering with PTSD and it’s effects, as well as I hope this helps others who are suffering, to understand. My coping mechanisms are mine, and each of us have to find what works for each of us individually. No one mechanism for working through the PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, and other issues related to PTSD, is right for everyone.
I have found that PTSD effects each of us, so randomly and so differently that the things that work for one, may not work for another sufferer. However, I have found by talking to others who have been diagnosed with this disorder, that he feelings are pretty much aligned; with the exception of the degree of effect and the triggers which bring about our behavior.
Bless and Thank You, for taking the time to share with me, this article.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.