Ask Jigsaw: Suffering from PTSD since getting Covid - Jigsaw

Ask Jigsaw: Suffering from PTSD since getting Covid

Ask Jigsaw: Suffering from PTSD since getting Covid

Friday, 15 January 2021

I have been suffering from PTSD since getting Covid and having to stay in the hospital. Almost every night I have the horrific nightmares. I am on medication and sleeping tablets because without them I just lie awake. When I sit down to lectures the dreams keep flashing across my mind while I try to focus, or the memories of being hooked up to machines while all these doctors came and went.

When I came home from isolation after the hospital, everyone treated me like a plagued dog. It was March when I got sick, so in fairness people were scared. People wouldn’t come near me even though I wasn’t sick anymore, so I burrowed myself away from them and everyone else.

I haven’t felt clean since coming back from the hospital. I feel like everything I touch has been contaminated by me. I don’t want to touch people

My psychiatrist is the only person that stands in my corner and I love her to bits, but I’m 270km away from her while attending college. I’m about to sit some exams and my head is completely fogged by either wretched memories of nightmares that mix with real memories, paralysing fear strong enough to make me vomit and shake. While I sit at my chair and hyperventilate, smashing my palm into the corner of my desk so that my mind will stop flashing these images, I’m trying to force-feed myself a lecture I’ve watched 5 times but nothing will go in. I’m alone, swimming in assignments due and covered in bruises from trying to beat myself into submission.

-plague

Hi there,

Thank you for being so open and honest in your email and for reaching out for support. It is not always easy and takes real courage and strength.

It sounds like you are dealing with a lot right now. It is not your fault that you got Covid. The fact that you had Covid does not change the fact that you deserve respect, compassion and kindness, just like everyone else.

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Fiona
Jigsaw
Often traumatic memories are difficult and painful to process and it is a good idea to have support with doing this.

Experiencing a traumatic event

When we experience a traumatic event, as you did, we often try and block it out or forget it. However, if the difficult memories haven’t been properly processed, they can keep popping back into our mind even when we don’t want them to. It can be a little like a corrupted file on a computer, until we format the file properly it can keep causing problems for the computer.

Often traumatic memories are difficult and painful to process and it is a good idea to have support with doing this. I am really glad that you have a psychiatrist, who will want to help you find the right support to deal with these really difficult memories. Even if they are too far to see face to face at the moment, perhaps you could contact them by phone to talk about the best support options for you. You can also find out more about different services that are available here.

Fiona
Jigsaw
You deserve to feel happy and supported.

Coping with overwhelming feelings

I can tell that the flashback and feelings can be extremely overwhelming. Smashing your fists into the desk and harming yourself in this way can give some short-term release. However, self-harm is not always the best way to cope. I wonder is there something else you could do instead that might help in the moment to alleviate the overwhelmed feeling. This article about self-harm might be able to help come up with some ideas.

It seems like your college work is an area that is really being affected by your experience at the moment. I wonder whether you have been able to share with your tutors why things are difficult. They may be able to offer some practical suggestions to help with the workload and reduce the pressure a little.

Although it might feel this way now, you are not alone with this and it is likely that there are many people out there experiencing the same sense of isolation, guilt, shame and fear following a diagnosis of Coronavirus. You deserve to feel happy and supported. Thank you for reaching out today and I hope you get the support you deserve.

Thank you for reaching out today and I hope you get the support you deserve.

Best wishes,

Fiona

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