As a PTSD psychologist I recently had the pleasure to talk about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during a live television broadcasting. What is PTSD? What do you need in order to learn to deal with it? And what are my personal experiences with PTSD? In this article you can read the answers to all these questions. You can also watch the video of the interview (in Dutch, with English subtitles) below.
When I received the request to talk about PTSD during a live television broadcasting, I was immediately enthousiastic. I have both personal and professional experiences with PTSD. As a psychologist and psychotherapist I have supported people with PTSD for many years during individual psychotherapy sessions and training. I love to talk about subjects like dealing with fear, trauma, loss and anger for it makes me feel at ease. The book The wisdom behind emotion and feeling is written based on my professional and personal experiences with PTSD. So despite the 2 hour drive from my home in Groningen to the television studio in Utrecht, I really enjoyed the interview.
What is PTSD?
As the result of a shocking event, people with PTSD continuously experience stress. The stress may express itself in different ways, e.g. through nightmares, reliving experiences, sleaping difficulties or concentration problems. You can also be extra vigilent.
PTSD brings along intense emotions, feelings, thoughts and pain on a daily basis. The intensity is often so high, that you experience them as unpleasant. As a result, you push them away. The suppression of pain or unease is a normal instinctive reaction : also people without PTSD do so daily. By suppressing pain, intense emotions or feelings, you push them out of your consciousness. As long as you are not aware of pain and emotions, you’re also not bothered by them. Not being conscious is therefore an effective way to not (having to) feel what is there.
Later on in time, when it is more convenient, you can yet pay attention and dwell on what is present. This trick works particularly well for short-term, superficial and single events. However, intrusive events or long-term circumstances make it more hard to suppress pain or intense emotions and thoughts. The necessity to focus your attention increases.
Living with PTSD
People with PTSD are, due to the stress reactions, time and again confronted with pain, intense emotions and thoughts. The way people with PTSD differ from ‘normal’ people is that the delay button does not work for them. They are taken off guard by the pain, thoughts and emotions. It’s like the pressure in your system is built-up too high and your system auomatically seeks by itself for an outlet port in order to lower the pressure. Thus leading to the stress reactions.
People with PTSD undergo intense pain and emotions without experiencing any control over it. This often reinforces feelings of powerlessness and fear. They are captured so to speak in a fight against their own senses and human nature. Suppressing emotions and pain no longer works, and the allowance of information is often so intense to their senses that people let go of contact with themselves. As a result, people with PTSD almost constantly live in emotional unsafety. It feels like they are trapped in a rollercoaster that is controlled by somebody else.
This has an enormous impact on their functioning, both social-emotional as professional. They suffer from the disorder to such an extent that they can’t or are significantly less able to participate in every day activities.
Dealing with PTSD
In the video below I tell something about how to learn to deal with PTSD:
An experienced PTSD psychologist is able to help you to increase your trust in your own human nature and in your senses. This way you can experience that you actually can influence what you perceive. Not in a direct way and by supressing what is there, but indirectly by focusing your attention and learn to relax at a deeper level. With guidance of a PTSD psychologist you can learn techniques that help you do so, like meditation, mindfulness, holistic pulsing, energy work or EMDR.
What can I offer you as a PTSD psychologist ?
As a PTSD psychologist I also help you to develop insight into the different levels of your humanity. Step by step you learn how not to fight against your senses and experiences, but to use them for the benefit of your own well-being. The book The wisdom behind emotion and feeling supports you in this. In the book I explain what instincts, emotions, feelings, thoughts and inspiration are and how they can reinforce or weaken each other.
During the online courses and training, with help of do-it-yourself assignments, video/audio, exercises and guided meditations, you gain new insights and experiences that you can apply immediately in to your daily life. You train skills like focusing your attention, refining the contact with your senses, learning how to deal with emotions and pain, how to respect your limits and to express what lives inside of you. This allows you to experience how you can still exert influence in a natural way. An important step forward.
Do you have a question or would you like to know more? Please contact me or leave a message below this post. I react within 48 hours during work days (CET).