Betrayal and PTSD

Your healing is about you. It doesn’t need anyone’s stamp of approval. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, or how ugly it looks. It’s about you, and you alone.”

PTSD is a response to a traumatic incident, and is frequently experienced when a partner or spouse discovers that their mate has a secret life. Hence, it may be something you have suffered from yourself, even it’s not been formally diagnosed.

Signs and Symptoms

These include re-experiencing the crisis or trauma; experiencing avoidance or emotional numbing; experiencing heightened vigilance or alertness; and experiencing other illnesses or concerns. These are summarized below.

1. Re-experiencing the crisis or trauma: This is the defining trait of PTSD. In most situations, the person will experience intense, overwhelming and recurrent flashbacks of the traumatic incident. Thus, they feel as if they’re actually re-living the event, and will have the same reactions as they had at that time. This may also manifest as nightmares and night terrors.

Note: For many people, the anniversary of the trauma, or being in a situation that reminds of what happened, can unleash intense emotions and feelings of distress.

2. Avoidance and emotional numbing: People who suffer from PTSD will generally do whatever they can to avoid situations which remind them of the trauma. Also, for most individuals emotional numbing is experienced immediately after the traumatic event. As a consequence of this, the person may withdraw from old interests, their work, their family and friends. They will also find it difficult to feel any emotions, and especially those related to closeness and trust. However, intense guilt and shame are, unfortunately, common and the person may struggle with despair and hopelessness.

3. Heightened vigilance and alertness: This prevents the individual from enjoying daily life, relaxing, concentrating and completing normal tasks. There is usually a marked change in their sleep patterns, too – in the form of insomnia, disturbed or broken sleep, wakening early in the morning, or being troubled by night terrors.

4. Other illnesses or concerns: In addition to the symptoms described above, people with PTSD may suffer from depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dizziness, shaking, chest pains, stomach pains, cognitive concerns and memory lapses.

If the above describes your experience, can I suggest you reach out for help, and considering talking to a counsellor, psychologist, or psychotherapist.

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