Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: illustrating my experience

Illustration by Nervous Comics: Man says telling group of people "I have post Traumatic Stress Disorder"

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I was recently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), although I have been living with it for a long time. I told my fiancée who has an understanding of my issues and she agreed with the reasons behind the diagnosis. It wasn’t scary telling her because she already had an idea of the extent of my problems. I knew she would be supportive, I could take my time talking to her and she wouldn’t think any differently about me.

It feels strange to be so open about one diagnosis and yet completely petrified about disclosing anything about the other.

I was also diagnosed with Panic Disorder, which is an issue that I have been more open about with my friends and online through my comics. This outlet in illustrative form has been more of a ‘dipping my toe in the water’ in terms of talking about my issues. It feels strange to be so open about one diagnosis and yet completely petrified about disclosing anything about the other. I guess the only reason I am capable of doing it now through this medium is because Nervous Comics gives me boundaries. It’s a front, a voice, a way to convey my issues in a way that I can think very carefully about how much information I feel comfortable disclosing.

This illustration highlights my worries of talking about my diagnosis

This illustration highlights my worries of talking about my diagnosis, how I would even raise it as a conversation, all the things that people will say, their reactions and what they might think of me. I would like to think everyone would be as understanding as the final character. Even if they had not heard of PTSD it would be nice just to feel like I do not need to prepare myself a defence against presumptions or prejudice. I am still the person I was a minute ago before I told you, nothing has changed, so I hope your neither would you perception of me or how you treat me.

I really do hope my comics can create a positive way to raise Mental Health awareness.

Maybe if I felt that there was not such an issue with my diagnosis I would not be so scared to talk about it. Maybe just by talking about it I might also find out that the people I choose to tell might not even have a problem with it. I hope that by taking the plunge and talking about this issue, others might feel that they can do the same. A good friend told me “Courage is contagious” and with this in mind, I really do hope my comics can create a positive way to raise Mental Health awareness.

Nervous Comics is in its infancy, I hope in the future it will flourish and with it help to raise awareness about anxiety related issues.

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Perfect timing

Why is it so hard to tell people that something you have been dealing with for so long finally has a name which usually (well for me it did) provides such relief? I told my husband and he was amazing but after telling a few very close friends I was told that I was ridiculous and that there was nothing wrong with me, I was just 'different'... I should have know they wouldn't be supportive, they certainly wern't when I had PND... Nervous Comics this is perfect placement in my life right now...

To be honest it was a relief

To be honest it was a relief to get a diagnosis, I can now see a way forward and get the correct support. Before it just seemed so overwhelming, having all these things happening and not knowing what was going on. I guess talking about it meant to me that I was vulnerable, like the character opening up their heart to those people. It leaves you feeling a bit exposed. To me, telling someone I have PTSD basically reveals that at some point Ive had a horrific experience that has lead to this. Im really glad you had such a positive response from your Husband, its great to have someone close to you who is supportive. Thank you for taking the time to look at my blog and respond.

P T. S D

I am very sorry you have meet with friends who are not sympathetic. My heart goes out to you. I was Diagnosed 2 years ago with Aspvergers Syndrome an one person said to me before I was assessed. For it oh your always looking for something to be wrong with you. Another time that person said me it's not that you can't do things but it's you do not try to do them. I also have Dyslexia, and Dyspraxia, but I don't sit down an cry about it. I find things I can do an do them. I go to a learNing Center in my Town here and am working on my level 4 in I T C skills having done levels 1 2 and 3. And I have just completed my Adult Learners Achevment Award. How can someone say your not trying when you are? I hope you can find people who are supportive of yourself. I have my Good school pal wee have known each other since primary 4 an are in touch every day encouraging each other lots. That's how it should be I think with a good friend. Helena

Nervous Comics

A friend of mine has no trouble discussing her bipolar disorder and PTSD, but is terrified of letting the world know about her dissociative identity disorder (formerly multiple personalities), It is well-known that people with PTSD can have DID from the same trauma that gave rise to the PTSD, but DID sufferers are looked down upon in the same way that those with personality disorders are. It's a terrible shame.


I went to see a therapist as a kid and she told my parents I had PTSD. I refused to accept it, convinced the problems in my live weren't bad enough to warrant it and never saw a therapist again. :)

I have PTSD

Having a baby should be a wonderful experience and time in ones life.. On the 17th Sept 2012 my whole life changed..I was rushed into hospital to have an emergency c - section, as the docs were finding it difficult to hear my babies heartbeat. Whilst in the theatre I was panicking like mad, my anxiety had hit the roof. I stayed in hospital for 5 days whilst my baby was in intensive care, and this was the most horrific time of my life, i could focus straight, could not eat or sleep. I had to see a psycharist in the end. Its been 4 month since my little girl was born, and iam still suffering with anxiety, low mood, sleepless nights and have been diagnosed with Depersonalization - where i feel unreal and disconnected from my body daily..due to the anxiety.Does anyone else feel like this or have done ? Now iam becoming scared to go anywhere alone.. I have suffered with panic attacks and agoraphobia in the past and have ocd.. Iam just hoping with time I manage to overcome this and get on with a 'normal' life... Thank you for reading and if you want to comment feel free..

PTSD and having a baby

My panic hit 2 weeks after my son was born. It was a conviction that I could not keep him safe, that I could not sustain his life by myself. Someone had to be in the room with us for me to feel my baby was safe. There had been no medical crisis during pregnancy or delivery. My problem was that my mother was a religious fanatic who hated that my husband was of a different faith. She did not want to put a birth announcement about him in her city's newspaper because she hated my husband's religion and I pretended I didn't mind. Our little boy ended up in hospital with a high fever when he was 6 weeks old, and I felt like I had endangered him by refusing to stand up to his first bigot. He recovered completely, but that was when I went into a dissociative, terrified state much like the one you describe. It helped somewhat when I stood up to my mother and she put that birth announcement into the paper, as though his being "on record" in that way made him permanent. I still needed someone else in the house with us, and sometimes even in the same room, as much as possible. Fortunately, I had friends from my university days who were able to visit when I was frightened to be alone with my son or go anywhere. My baby's illness was a non-event compared to what happened to you and your newborn. Nothing terrifies a parent like the possibility of harm to her child. Small wonder your anxiety and other issues were exacerbated after waiting for 5 days to find out if your child was going to live and be healthy. Let the docs medicate you if necessary. ASK PEOPLE TO DO THINGS FOR YOU! You are exhausted physically and mentally and it will help if others are keeping your home clean and making sure the laundry doesn't pile up. Accept babysitting offers, even if you can't bring yourself to leave the house. Just being able to rest can help immensely. If you are not up to preparing healthy meals for yourself, ask others to do so. Good nutrition is a huge weapon against depression and anxiety. Same for exercise, so if someone drive you to a gym, go walking with you, etc., consider that as well. Let your neurochemistry recovery from pregnancy and childbirth and please do not get down on yourself just because you cannot shuck off this experience as though it were unimportant. It was hugely important and unquestionably traumatic. Keep on taking care of yourself and letting doctors and others help you. You will find your way through this.

PTSD and DID - we're sick of being ridiculed for our diagnosis

I'm so glad to read this. I have PTSD and dissociative identity disorder, including episodes of depersonalization, derealization and dissociative amnesia. The PTSD is from both childhood and events as an adult. It was very frightening at first and diagnosis was such as relief to me too. I had such a mix of symptoms and I didn't know they were all parts of the trauma I suffered as a child. I'm far more open about the anxiety than the PTSD. Both PTSD and DID carry so much shame. With PTSD people always want to know what the trauma was and I can't face talking about it. With DID it's even harder - Beyonce/Sasha Fierce and similar give people the impression that it's about having alter egos rather than a reaction to child abuse, and there's regular criticism of the diagnosis by organisations who support so-called "falsely accused" paedophiles. I think it will always be hard to talk about DID. When you say I have DID either you get confusion or you've just told someone you were horrifically abused at a very young age. I'm beginning to talk in survivors groups about the child sexual abuse, but I wish there was more awareness. It helps when you aren't the only one. To the last poster - I can totally relate. Therapy has been the only help to me, CBT on the NHS only helped a bit but I found help via the voluntary sector. I'm still often disconnected and dissociated. It's worse at night because the other identities were abused badly then and struggle to see that we are safe now. Understanding my symptoms helped so much.

Some diagnoses are more "acceptable" than others

I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which I always believed was a misdiagnosis, and it took 7 years before I got my diagnosis of PTSD and DID. Even though I have told my friends and family that I DONT have bipolar- it was a misdiagnosis, they just keep going back to believing that bipolar is the real problem. It is much more acceptable to them that I have bipolar. Perhaps because it is more widely known, and is caused by a chemical imbalance- no real "fault" can be laid on anybody. And maybe they dont want to accept that I must have been through something horrific. I am a lot more wary of disclosing that I have DID or PTSD than I ever was about having bipolar. Mostly because people just dont know what it is, or want to ask a million inappropriate questions. Sometimes its simpler to just say "I've been through trauma" but even then some people kind of stare blankly not knowing how to respond.

Thank you Nervous Comics

I have very severe ptsd, severe generalised anxiety disorder and depression. I'm waiting for my appointment to see a psychotherapist. I can identify completely with the difficulty of 'coming out' with this diagnosis. I feel like I am wearing a giant sandwich board saying I'm a child sexual abuse victim. But I'm trying to get passed it and be honest. If we continue to be silent we play into this idea that it is shameful. I cannot continue to keep this secret. It's not the survivors who should feel the shame. I hope with all my heart that one day the stigma of mental illness will be no more. We will be a healthier and happier species! I love your illustrations. Communicating how we feel when we ourselves struggle to understand it is incredibly hard, from the outside it must be even more difficult to fathom. I wish you all the best on your journey and thank you for your blog xx

PTSD in the police

I am a serving officer and diagnosed with PTSD. It stems from what I perceive to be bullying which opened the box containing all the horrific incidents I have attended, ranging from fatal Rtc's to suicides. I am not the first officer to suffer from PTSD and I certainly won't be the last but the reaction from police management has been terrible. There is clearly a void in the understanding of mental illness within the police, with very unhelpful comments like 'we've all been to terrible incidents and we get on with it because that's what we are paid to do? It beggars belief that this naivety still exists.

Just recently diagnosed, want to tell my ex, and family

I just recently was diagnosed with PTSD. For me it was from being raped a 16 by what I can only assume as my sociopathic boyfriend at the time. I've had the symptoms for eight years and just internalized them as anger and incorporated into my personality, but what I really wanted to tell people was that I was having these horrible nightmares and panic attacks that using anger was the only way for me to handle it. I finally found my way to a therapist and doctor who diagnosed me. It's a mixture of feelings for me. On one hand it is a relief to know that this more than what I thought and that it is okay to seek help, however telling people around me has been difficult. A lot of my family members serve in the military and I feel like my situation wasn't as bad as their's so it makes my PTSD seem less. I also want to tell my recent ex, we broke up because after being triggered by a movie we were watching and an argument with my mother, I snapped at a small situation and yelled at my boyfriend, we broke up two days later because he said he didn't want to be with such an angry person and it made me feel like a monster. The thing was I was just about to tell him about the rape and that it affected me when I slept. I don't know if it would be a good idea 3 months later after the break up

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