The Roller Coaster Ride of PTSD

I have a new term for you. Veloxroltaphobia. It’s the fear of roller coasters. The symptoms: dry mouth, racing heartbeat, stomach doing more loops than the ride itself.  Apparently, Legoland has teamed up with psychologist Susan Bartell to provide parents with “Roller Coaster Readiness Tips” for nervous, reluctant tikes who are scared of this particular amusement park ride.

When I saw this in an article in USA Today last week, it made me think about the enormous number of women who have survived sexual assault and rape and “white knuckle” it through life.

I was on a never-ending roller coaster for 20 years.  It went something like this….
1. See man who looks like attacker.
2. Hold breath.
3. Hyperventilate.
4. Have heart palpitations.
5. Experience panic attack.
6. Realize it wasn’t assailant.
7. Recover.

I lived with PTSD and was on edge for so long it became part of my framework, intertwined with my DNA and destiny.  Months became years, years became decades.   I really thought I could overcome it with the passage of time.  The fact is I could not.  The other important truth:  the sooner PTSD is confronted, the EASIER it is to overcome it…..I surely wish now someone would have clued me in on that tidbit!

Two years ago, I finally had enough of the daring drops and corkscrew turns and sought counseling from Ellen Emerson, a licensed psychologist in Statesboro.  She used cognitive therapy to rewire my brain and allow me the freedom to LIVE AGAIN, uninhibited by fear.

Until we can be victorious over post traumatic stress and free ourselves of the helpless and hopeless feelings that come from constant flashbacks, continual startling, and hyper vigilance, we are going to be on what feels like a perpetual Six Flags Scream Machine forever.

If you have no belief you will ever be able to get off the roller coaster and live again, that is not true!  I got off.  You can too.

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