The symptoms of PTSD are not "in someone's head" . . . Rather they are the aftereffects of an event or series of events severe enough to profoundly alter a person's thinking, feelings, and physical reactions.
I've brought together two videos that discuss Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One is from the point of view of a pyschologist. The other is from the point of view of someone who experienced trauma, and was later diagnosed with PTSD. The differences in the way the two women talk about trauma are quite fascinating. I've included both because the psychologist provides a good general overview. Lisa French puts a human face on something that can seem frightening and abstract.
I generally don't like labels. However, in my own life, receiving a diagnosis of PTSD was the first step on my healing path. I was diagnosed with complex PTSD in approximately 2005. Complex PTSD means that instead of encountering a single traumatic event, I experienced multiple traumas, beginning when I was 17 and not ending for many years. Unfortunately, by the time that PTSD began to enter the psychological vocabulary, I was living in northern Canada and had no access to counselling. Years later, I moved to Vancouver and had the good luck to see a doctor who specialized in PTSD. Although she normally works with combat and peacekeeping veterans, she became my lifeline. When she talked to me about PTSD and what it meant to be a trauma survivor, a light went off in my head. "Aha," I remember thinking, "so that's what's been going on for so many years." In future posts, I will write more about what it means to have PTSD and why, in the past two years, my need to grieve and process the hurts of the past has become stronger. "It's time," my inner voice is telling me and I am finally ready to listen.