Long-term Cycles of PTSD

Maybe you can help me. My therapist says I should talk about this with people so I can get feedback on what I’m feeling:

I go through long-term phases where my PTSD symptoms will improve for several months. I become vastly more productive and social. I make new friends, more people support my work with money, and I make professional connections.

Then I hit a bad spell. I can’t write, I can’t code, I can barely even keep up with chores. My memory goes to shit and I feel like I’ve lost my mind. Many of the people who gave me money feel cheated. My new professional contacts think I was faking it and somehow duped them into believing in me. My friends wonder where I disappeared to.

At least, that’s what I think they think. Nobody tells me this stuff directly. But I feel it so strongly that it seems like nothing else could be true. The bad spells even make me believe I’m faking it. I start to wonder if maybe my intelligence was a fluke, an illusion, a stroke of luck that’s run out. I doubt all of my previous work. I doubt my entire belief system.

I can’t bear talking about any of this when it happens, so I withdraw and disappear. I stop talking to people even when I feel better. I struggle to get back to work out of fear. This extends the bad phase.

So what do you think? Have you ever thought those things above? Have you had any similar cycles yourself? Let’s discuss it in the comments below.


4 thoughts on “Long-term Cycles of PTSD

  1. this definitely happens to me. i start doing better and then i just… dont. im currently starting to do better and im worried its all gonna crash. i dont know how to prevent it, and failure crushes me.

    • I hear ya. The crash is especially hard when you can see it coming and feel powerless to stop it. I don’t know that I have any advice for that, but you’re not alone. Thanks for commenting.

  2. ‘that’s what I think they think’ –

    Theres the linchpin right there, I had experienced similar feelings prior to starting on anti-depressents this year :I was worried I was simply being humoured and was generally disregarded/ignored or just plain disliked, that my abilities and experience werent worth a damn – It came as a real shock that when I posted about starting anti-depressants and I was VERY frank about it (and the emotional state that led to it) that some people who I had only known a time as casual acquaintences were very supportive and were genuinly concerned.

    The nub of this is, I think we have the capicity to imagine that people think the worst of us, that people all the time see us as we see ourselves at our worst moments. I think it can seem often that our frailties and failings are an open book to people, that we are unarmoured and exposed when in reality we are quietly suffering along with many others who also have a great capicity to be understanding and to emphatise with us having known similar experiences or people who experienced something similar.

    Self doubt/the internal critic can keep us in check and prevent us from becoming egotistical monsters incapable of receiving criticism or chaning our minds, the negative side of indulging it too much is that it eats away at the solid foundations when we are off-kilter. When we are operating normally its a useful thing, when not ; it is an internal voice in the choir of our mind that sings sour notes too loudly when we are incapable of dealing with the dissonance.

    To be very concrete about this, human politeness only goes so far, if people genuinly felt duped or let down, someone would say something, and, a single individual saying something does not correlate to a silent majority (or even minority) of dissatisfied individuals : Unless you consistantly receivie this kind of feedback from people then the occasional negative voice is just that, the occasional person who has a problem : Has anyone at all voiced a problem with your work/friendship/ukelele playing to you? My own therapist directly asked this and I realised that apart from some minor work related issues there was nothing.

    I think I have already gone on too long so I will leave it at that.

    [I didnt want to make this all about me but I hope that speaking about my experiences can perhaps illustrate a paralell, I can’t claim to speak for anyone else nor would I assume my experiences are universal, however, given the common threads in life we all have as human beings I trust that there is something in this, however small, that may resonate with familiarity.]

    • Thank you so much for writing about your experience. I think you’re right, it gets very easy to react to our worst fears as though they are reality. And PTSD certainly doesn’t help matters any.

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