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The Struggles of Coping with PTSD During Social Isolation

April 28, 2020 Beth Avery

Life is tough at the moment. Every day that passes by seems to be filled with anxiety after anxiety, and there is no clear end in sight. COVID-19 has thrown all our lives into disarray, and coping with mental health issues is harder than ever.

Being stuck at home is undoubtedly difficult for everyone. Human connection is an essential part of life, and being unable to connect with friends and family members because of the coronavirus is taking a toll on all of us. But for people with serious mental illnesses such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social isolation can present unique challenges.

Why Social Interaction is Important for PTSD

When you live with PTSD, it's a constant battle to keep your brain from getting stuck in negative memories. Daily activities such as work and social outings are important in preventing PTSD from taking over. I've learned over time that the more I isolate myself, the worse my PTSD will become. Social interaction is one of the best ways to prevent or curb my PTSD funks. 

When I talk to other people, whether it's coworkers or friends or even cashiers at the grocery store, I get the chance to break out of my world for a second. Having PTSD can feel like I'm trapped inside my own head, but interacting with others reminds me that I am not alone in my world. Everyone is existing alongside me. 

The Impact of Social Isolation on PTSD

Since I've starting sheltering at home, my PTSD symptoms have gotten noticeably worse. I'm not sleeping well, and my nightmares have become more intense. My flashbacks have gone from occurring a few times a week to a few times a day. Even though I've continued to see my therapist through online sessions during this time, things just seem to be getting worse.

It's difficult to keep a positive focus when negative memories are running on repeat in your head. Thanks to the chronic nightmares that accompany PTSD, not even sleep is a respite for those of us suffering from the disorder. Interacting with people in my daily life serves as a resting period for me. Instead of focusing on my thoughts, I can focus on the conversation between me and the other person.

Social distancing has taken away my ability to have those daily conversations and interactions with other people. I do my best to stay connected with friends and family through technology, but it's not the same. 

What has helped ground me during this time is the knowledge that we are all going through this together. The lack of social interaction isn't just impacting me. While I have unique complications in my life because of my trauma, everyone is hungry for human interaction right now. And that's okay. It's okay that we're struggling, and it's okay that my PTSD is acting up at the moment. It's a normal reaction to have during a stressful and scary time.

If social isolation is impacting your PTSD, go easy on yourself. Don't be ashamed if you need to reach out to your friends and family members. PTSD is a serious disorder, and it's not meant to be treated in a bubble. You're doing the best you can during a difficult time. Stay tuned in to your body and its needs, and take comfort in the fact that this period of social isolation won't last forever. Tough times are an unavoidable part of life, but there's always peace around the corner. 

APA Reference
Avery, B. (2020, April 28). The Struggles of Coping with PTSD During Social Isolation, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2020/4/the-struggles-of-coping-with-ptsd-during-social-isolation



Author: Beth Avery

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Valerie Withers
May, 20 2022 at 11:13 pm

I have severe chronic ptsd from being abused by a pedophile growing up,then marrying a crack addict,ending up on welfare living in a ghetto and being the only white woman there.Marrying another drunk ten years later,getting a criminal justice degree and then ending up institutionalized six times.the mental health system drugs me up,and the churches I go to tell me to forgive and just get over it.My only child that I raised alone is now a social worker and agnostic.thank God I have a husband who loves me.I am unable to ever work again,cannot volunteer,I sound like a crazy woman because even if I go to church with normal clean cut people I end up talking too much and they dont want to be around me.I cant stand hippies,addicts,drunks,liars,users,false teachers,takers,all of my life people have invaded my space and my personal boundaries.I am suicidal pretty much every three days or so.My earthly family have never really been there for me.I cant use a computer,manage money,be around evil tough people.I am fifty eight,no one gets my money,my body,or into my business unless they are invited in.I have gained eighty pounds.My hair has fallen out,and Im terrified to go to my mailbox.I have been around drugs and violence and abuse my entire life.I want to die now and go home.I barely have the strength to wash clothes,clean house,feed my dog,I get lost everywhere I go.I live in terroe every day of my life.I am on meds,when I tell anyone the word,NO,I mean dont come closer,period.End of sentence.Ive had so many abusers in my life I actually did try to commit suicide just to escape them.I am a tax paying American,I dont smoke drink or use drugs.I live in the same town I was raised in and nothing works.Ive had to physically peel people off of my body,my material things, and my money.The other night someone threw a rock in my window.If I get triggered it scares me for weeks.I do try to go walking,I atend a calm Baptist Church,but I do talk too much.No American should have to live like an animal.I cuss like a sailor and refuse recovery because I have to hear about the trama of others.I dont want to die this way.I go to a therapist once a week.Ive always tried to have a relationship with the lord but I dont trust Him,noe do I trust secular people either.I cant change,save,hold up enable excuse or condone ANY FORM OF ABUSE FROMANYONE.I stay mad.

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