PTSD and Slap Yourself

by Sherry Riter in Health,PTSD,Self-Development  

You may not think you need to read this post, but you do because in this case, ignorance is not bliss.

“Appearances often are deceiving.”

What is in the photo above?

Is it obvious to you or are you having a hard time figuring it out?

You do know some things about whatever is in the photo, right?

Let’s see….looks black in some places and brown in others.

Anything else?

Can you tell if it is close up or far away…

Large or small…

Dangerous or safe?

It is hard to really know, isn’t it?

Here is another photo of the same thing, but this time it is clear and the object is distinguishable.

Now you know everything about what you see in the photo, right?!

Did you just say, “Yes!”

If you did, you’re wrong and you did not read about making pop judgments the last time I posted a pretty tree in the night…or is that the wee hours of the morning?

Do you know if it is hot, warm or cold outside?

Is there snow on the ground, barren dirt, grass, a mountain or maybe a cornfield?

When we blog, I think most people tell the truth about themselves and their lives. Of course, information such as our home address, telephone number and the name of our child’s school are left out for the safety of our family.

This isn’t a big revelation to anyone, so what is my point?

Do you write about the way you really feel or is it candy coated?

Okay, well that’s blogging and I understand that some people candy coat everything they write about in their blogs. I guess, “To each their own,” but what about life?

When I was the General Manager of a hotel, I used to tell the staff, “Smile! If you don’t feel like smiling, smile anyway and fake it!”

Do you smile anyway and fake it every day and in every circumstance of your life?

I don’t.

Maybe I should, but at this point, not only don’t I fake it, but I can’t and don’t want to fake it.

I am me and that’s all that I am and all I can be.

Today was a very hard day for me. The world pushed in and everything that I can’t control suffocated the little bit of happiness that I had found the past couple weeks.

It is so apparent that not only has my world changed, but I truly am suffering with PTSD.

PTSD is an acronym for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I’m sure you have heard the term thrown around when people talk about soldiers coming back from war. Well, it is more than a soldier’s affliction. If we break it down, it is a condition that affects a person after a terrifying or traumatic incident has been witnessed or experienced.

Normal people experience a horrible incident and afterwards might feel anger, fear, shock, nervousness, and/or guilt. A person with PTSD can not shake these feelings and instead the emotions increase in intensity. .
It makes it hard or impossible to:

  • sleep
  • stay awake
  • hold a rational thought for longer than a few seconds
  • carry on a conversation
  • remember
  • think
  • cope

Obviously it wreaks havoc on trying to live a normal life.

My life has not been normal.

I’ve tried to pretend it doesn’t exist, pray it away, get angry about it, fake an opposite emotion when it threatened to overtake me and a multitude of other things that didn’t work. Today, I had to give into it. I had extreme stress and unhappiness presented into my life which made me unable to cope with already whirling thoughts in my head.

When I awoke this morning, the moments of Alyssa dying kept repeating in my head like a terrible movie. I dreaded the day the moment I opened my eyes. By the time evening came, I was quite literally ready to jump off the highest mountain or drown in the deepest ocean.

Today my life has been Hell.

I’m sharing this with you because out of all the thousands of people that read my blog, I’m sure someone else is suffering the same thing or will be afflicted with PTSD some time in their future. I hadn’t ever read anything about the disorder before my life was turned upside down, so I was rather clueless as to what was happening to me. I don’t want you to feel that way.

I feel like a winter tree that has watched every leaf fall from it’s branches. I feel that I have lost a piece of myself forever.

Supposedly, it will get better. Everything I’ve read, says that it is a gradual and ongoing process of healing which never completely rids a person of all the symptoms of the dreaded PTSD. With therapy, PTSD sufferers learn to cope with the trauma and the feelings associated with it.

That prognosis is depressing in itself, but this is what I have learned so far:

    • There will be good days, bad days and worse days.
    • Added stress WILL bring on more symptoms so avoid as many stressful people and situations as possible.
    • There’s no way you can help yourself out of this condition. You need the help of a therapist.
    • It is best to tell your family and friends. Those that care about you will seek to lessen your stress and brighten your day.
    • Some people don’t and won’t ever care about you or your condition. Avoid them like the plague.
    • Laugh as often and fully as possible.
    • Realize that you are not the same person and therefore, do not have the same expectations of yourself because it will cause undo stress.
    • Loud noises can elevate the symptoms.
    • Unexpected movements can scare you. For instance, I opened the bathroom door and someone else was coming into the bathroom at the same time I was leaving it. Instead of us just saying, “Hey!” her sudden appearance scared me terribly. I screamed and that scared her so she screamed. It sounds funny now, but at the time, my heart was beating so fast, I thought I would have a heart attack.
    • You will continually feel like you want to die – that dying is the answer. Well, dying naturally might be the answer, but don’t kill yourself. If you start feeling like you want to do something that drastic, call your therapist or a trusted friend/family member.

That was your first lesson in the horrible life of a PTSD sufferer.

So the next time you think, “He has an easy life,” or “She never has anything bad to overcome,” slap yourself on the back of the head for being so judgmental and critical. If you know someone is suffering and you stress them out more, slap yourself again a little bit harder. Life is not easy for anyone because everyone is suffering in one way or another. Some people, however, have it harder at times, so have compassion and give them a break because you never know when the shoe might be on the other foot.

“Three things cannot
be long hidden:
the sun,
the moon,
and the truth.”


The Redhead Riter

This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lightsinthemidst January 27, 2011 at 5:26 am

Oh, and hugs help too. Here's a virtual hug from me to you.


2 TJ January 27, 2011 at 5:28 am

Oh My Sherry I am so sorry. I know you suffer such things and that your life is a night mare in a lot of areas. Seek the help you need before you loose the most precious gift the Lord loaned you. Alyssa!!! She too is suffering , and try to make this be your goal. When life was hard for me, all I had to do was see you and Audrey in my mind, and somehow some where I found the courage to go on and conquer. I believe in miracles, I do not accept what doctors say with out prayer. I know you have me in you , reach down pass the hurt, the pictures in your mind and see that smile of that angel child called Alyssa. Fight, fight all that pulls you down. The Lord does not take away our trials, but sees how they make us learn and grow. You will be able to fight more giants in your future. You will hold your grand son in your arms and with tears whisper, "oh mom you were right" and I will share your joy, even from the other side of the veil. I love you, rid your heart of all bitterness, all anger, and seek all the help in all areas and defeat this terrible thing. You have so many prayers going to heaven for just you, do not tie the Lords hands in helping you. For get the small stuff, forget those who put pressure on you, and work work work hard at getting well. I love you



3 Dorothy January 27, 2011 at 5:36 am

PTSD sucks! I'm sorry you are experiencing it, but I'm not surprised after reading your heart-wrenching account of your daughter's near death incicent.

I've found that allowing myself to fully experience the trauma again and really feel all the feelings, instead of pushing them away has helped. Expressing the feelings in whatever way I can like writing, painting, crying, has also been beneficial. The traumas has to be acknowledged before we can begin to heal…



4 Rachel January 27, 2011 at 6:04 am

I have ptsd too.
You describe it well.
I am sorry you have to go through it all. It is truly a nightmare.

Did you know ptsd is not a "billable diagnosis." That is crazy in itself.
Somehow the world has to figure that out. Then people with ptsd could more easily get help without being further labeled with a "billable diagnosis"


5 Misha January 27, 2011 at 7:07 am

I love this post. I am also an 'honest' blogger, I don't candy coat anything. You never know if by sharing your stories of pain, loss, happiness, and peace, if your touching another person. Thank you for sharing your post and your pain and I hope (pray) that you find peace. -Misha-


6 Leslie January 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

I can relate to a lot of what you've written.

It seems ridiculous for me to write this, but in fact, my husband and I actually moved out of a house that we built and lived in for more than 20 years because we didn't want to 'fake it' anymore. We realized that the neighborhood was filling up with 'fake' people who gossiped, judged and just made you feel wrong. It was then that I realized, I am not a fake person. My boss has a rule at work, 'if you can't fake it then go home'. Needless to say, I've sent home some of my employees in the past because they've come to work with bad attitudes and were unable to fake it. In retail, this is a bad thing to have, as it spills over into the customers and spreads like a virus throughout the other employees.

Throughout the past couple years I have experienced the other systems that you have written about as well, especially in 2009 when a dear friend and fellow co worker passed away in her 40's. That was the year from hell for me as I've never had anyone that close to me pass away at such a young age and who affected me personally. You muddle through, you ask for hugs when you need them and you cry when it gets to be too much. There's absolutely no shame in asking for help or for hugs. It got me through the worst part of that year..


7 KathyMorelli January 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Oh my goodness….my heart goes out to you. PTSD can be difficult to treat, it is very much biologically based. I have found that body based methods are good. Such as Jin Shin Do(r, ) yoga, expressive art, writing with pictures (which is what you do!). movement to help reintegrate the feelings and the incident.
Good luck to you, Kathy


8 KathyMorelli January 27, 2011 at 1:42 pm

My heart truly goes out to you and I it is an unimaginable pain to bear. And I just think that grief is so difficult. Losing a child is unimaginable. You are a brave soul. Take care.


9 Pammy pam January 27, 2011 at 1:44 pm

oh beautiful beautiful red. no wonder i feel so connected to you. i suffer from ptsd in silence. as a result i have memory loss (hence my blog) and hair loss, to name two things. i try to laugh about it most days cuz otherwise i would lay in bed and scream!

hang in there and be gentle to yourself. i am here for you.


10 Cathy Kennedy January 27, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Your post on PTSD was insightful. Recently, someone dear to me was diagnosed with this. Perhap I can be of better help to her now that you've shared your thoughts on this matter.

I'm terribly sorry to hear that this affects you and I can only fathom what you must feel with all that you've gone through. This will take time, no doubt. But, being real about your experiences will be what may get your through the PTSD, as well as the support & encouragement from your family/friends.

You're going to be okay, Sherry. God bless!


11 Sonia Barton January 27, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I know it's hard – but try not to stay in that hell for to long. Do what your mind is telling you to do which is get help and educate yourself, and those around you, so they can help themselves and you in the process. It may not feel like it now but you are really good at that.


12 Lori January 27, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I’m searching for just the right words but can’t seem to find them. I can hear the pain in your voice through your post.

You are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

I’m sending hugs your way!

May you sleep well tonight and have an extra dose of strength for the days ahead.


13 Teresa Wilkinson 1984 January 28, 2011 at 3:09 am


you already know alot about me and what I have been through you will survive I know you will.

Can I borrow your Mom someday? I wish I had her support.

love ya Teresa


14 Teresha@Marlie and Me January 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I have all the compassion in the world for you in my heart and I am sending lots of healing thoughts your way.


15 Paula January 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Red, love from my heart to yours. I have had intense trauma therapy for 5 months(35h/week) and thanks for the German health system I didnt need a pay a dime. I am still working through all the insights and information's collected and know I am finally becoming the one I always was supposed to be. I got traumatized very early hence I never knew what a seemingly normal life means in the first place. I had nothing to compare with. Noone ever will forget what happen but one can overcome. Truly overcome and prevent slides/drawbacks by utilizing a toolbox. Without all of that I would never ever have dared to cross the pond. Without wanting to sound offending yet there are plenty of exercises on my personal blog under the page trauma therapy. Including how I was led there and what came out for me. Whilst the reasons for trauma differ widely the symptoms and patterns installed are very similar. Thinking of you and sending good vibes down the road.


16 Bethany February 23, 2011 at 4:21 am

I relate to your post so much. I too experience this, thank you!


17 Daidalos December 22, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Dear Redhead,

I am a honorably discharged, United States Army, Gulf war 1 Veteran. I was a specialist, Mos 91y I was in a unit called Medical Dental Activities Command or MEDDAC for short.

Saw things there I hope to never see again.

I am also diagnosed with PTSD.

By three different Psychiatric professionals after at first I tried (didn’t know it then) to “self medicate” by clubbing, bar hopping, doing drugs, weed, pills, never the needle though, and wound up in the hospital after things had gotten so bad for me I just wanted out

Out of everything.

Therapist told me this is why I was having certain issues (didn’t believe her) Psychologist (same thing), then finally a MD the Psychiatrist tells me the same thing after seeing me for a while. (Ok, I will accept it, so now what do I do)

Then therapy began, therapy I will have to continue for the rest of my life probably too I am told.

I thank you for making blog talking about PTSD. PTSD is a curse, one which I hope someday we’ll cure. And is every bit as much, a medical issue, as a person’s heart attack is too.

And I thank you for the info too. There was actually some information in here I didn’t know, again after years of therapy now.


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