The new issue of Knitting magazine is out today and apart from some patterns by me it also contains a first person article where I talk about how knitting helps me manage bouts of anxiety caused by post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
For my own well-being I have resolved to be more open about suffering from this condition but I know that it can provoke a range of reactions. So alongside the article I thought I’d say a few things about PTSD and me. (In the future I will put a version of the article on my blog but for now you’ll only find it in the magazine)
Firstly, this revelation shouldn’t change how you see or interact with me. If you have met me as an adult, chatted via social media, emailed with me, you have almost certainly done so with someone who has PTSD. It is as much part of me as my short-sight or my hair colour.
That said as a PTSD sufferer I know from my own and other’s experiences that mention of the condition can provoke some reactions I find difficult.
Curiosity – you might want to know what caused someone’s PTSD but please don’t ask. I might tell you at a time of my own choosing but feeling obliged to think about a trauma can be triggering. Plus facing other people’s shocked reactions to some trauma stories can be a difficult experience in itself.
Judgement – there are some people who seem to want to rank trauma in some way as if some is more worthy of causing PTSD than others. Please accept that the condition exists whatever the cause. I also have arthritis in some joints but I don’t find people are nearly as curious about the causes of that chronic condition.
I would also add that there is some common ground between the sort of arthritis I have and PTSD. An accident caused long term changes to my knee joint, just as a traumatic incident caused physical changes to how my brain is wired. Physiotherapy helps my knee, talking and other mental health therapies help with my brain.
That’s what I can manage just now but I hope it is useful. And yes, knitting does help.
I don't want people to go away with the idea that my life is a constant round of nightmares, panic attacks and flashbacks - and wanting to hide under the table the whole time - although there are times when those are more regular than others. What PTSD does on a daily basis is affect how I react to my environment and how I process the stimuli around me. I am a higher level of alert most of the time and surprising things can trigger panic etc.