Q. Why am I having these problems with the normal activities
of daily living? Here are a few of the difficulties I experience:
Leaving the house, answering the telephone, bathing and showering,
and cleaning the house. Are these problems at all common with people
with post traumatic stress disorder?
A. Yes, these are common problems with Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder. One set of symptoms that causes many people problems
of this type is the avoidance symptoms. If you look in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual IV, this symptom reads: "Persistent avoidance
of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness
(not present before the trauma)…"
How this translates into your life depends upon many
factors: Your trauma, your current life, what would trigger your awareness
of your trauma, and how your mind interprets all this.
People lose interest in their lives
Develop difficulties being intimate
Lose hope for their future
Narrow their range of feelings
Avoid thoughts, feelings, and conversations associated
with their trauma
Avoid activities, places and people related to their
My thinking on this is related to how I see recovery
from PTSD. Many dramatic symptoms of PTSD involve reliving your trauma(s).
I believe this is a healthy part of people trying to master their
difficult life experiences. Your psyche constantly brings up the things
you need to face in memories, thoughts, dreams, flashbacks, intrusive
recollections, and physical responses.
However, this is exceedingly painful! So people do what
they need to do to cut down on their pain, avoiding life.
How you deal with this is a little at a time. Picking
small portion of an activity to force yourself into. Then with help
from your friends, journal, and therapist, you face the feelings that
surface. Then you pick a new small activity to face. And begin again
experiencing painful feelings.
Doing it this way, instead of trying to figure it all
out ahead of time allows your feelings to surface in manageable chunks.
In this manner, you prevent the flooding and overload that causes
people to become even less functional.