1. When I was first diagnosed, I became extremely withdrawn. I hated being touched, hugged, or shown love because I felt I was unlovable, unworthy, unclean, and frightened. This was even with my own family. My mum continued to support and hug me even when I would push her away. A simple hug makes all the difference, this allowed me to grow to trust and love again.
2. Listen, don't judge or panic. This is easier said than done. I found this phrase immensely helpful when I started to disclose information about my attacks. Sometimes I was in hospital supported by staff, but my family would either speak to me by phone or visit depending on distance to travel and work commitment. I found it helpful just to hear a friendly voice. It is not always necessary to talk about what happened. There is no wrong or right way to react to this situation. I know my parents never thought any of this would happen to me. It is a shock which has caused an earthquake through everyones lives.
3. I have found specifically in my area there is a real lack of support, advice, or places to provide parents and siblings who have loved ones with PTSD. When you experiences your child having a flashback, it is like being thrown into a shark pool in the depths of the ocean. It can be terrifying for both the family and the individual. By learning person-specific grounding techniques work particularly well, however this is different for everyone. There needs to be more support and information for families and carers about coping with trauma.
4. It's ok to cry, scream, shout and show your emotions. It is an important outlet that everyone can vent their fears, worries, and frustrations. My mum encouraged me to talk and cry to let out negative emotions rather than harming myself. I believe without the care and love from my family, I would be still trapped amongst the trauma, unable to talk about the past. Admittedly, I have blamed, shouted at my parents about the past and how I would want to change things, but I realise we can't turn back the clock and when I exposed how I was feeling I discovered that my family all felt roughly the same emotions and fears as myself. I didn't feel so alone and consumed by my trauma. In life, we don't think anything like this would eve happen to us. I learnt it is not about what happened in the past, what we said or done, but how we choose to move forward into the future.
5. There will days were it all gets too much, but that's ok! Everyone has bad days, don't blame yourself, or feel guilty for this. One thought I hold onto is that things will get better with time. It can be a long and difficult journey, where the whole family feels unprepared and scared of what is to come. After ten years of struggling and trying to finding my voice, it has eventually happened. Something just 'clicked' in my brain that reassured me that everything will be ok, as soon as I accepted my situation and wasn't scared of the past. I was able to be open about my experiences. But, I know the main thing that has kept me strong and hopeful is my families support and love. The reason I am able to share my story and still here is because of my family. It does get better, I promise you that.