Perhaps without realizing it, you seem to have been describing the symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An assessment with a mental health professional, in-person, will help to determine whether a PTSD diagnosis is warranted.
PTSD is a disorder that sometimes develops after an individual has experienced a horrific, frightening or shocking event. You have described experiencing several of those.
Virtually everyone will experience a number of reactions after a shocking or traumatic event. That’s natural and to be expected. However, when those reactions last longer than they should, and disrupt your life long after the events have passed, that’s often indicative of PTSD.
For an individual to be diagnosed with PTSD, their symptoms must last for more than a month, and significantly interfere with relationships, and their everyday lives. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual For Mental Disorders (DSM), some of the symptoms include: experiencing recurrent, involuntary and intrusive distressing memories and dreams about the trauma; experiencing dissociative reactions including flashbacks in which the traumatic event(s) feels like it’s reoccurring; experiencing intense or prolonged psychological distress when exposed to cues that remind you of the traumatic event(s); having physiological reactions to cues that remind or resemble the traumatic event(s); attempting to avoid certain stimuli that remind you of the traumatic event; experiencing emotional reactions associated with the traumatic event, including the persistent or exaggerated negative beliefs and expectations about oneself, others, and the world; feelings of hyper-vigilance, sleep problems, concentration problems, and so forth.
Those are some of the experiences, reactions and cognitive affects associated with PTSD. It seems as though you have described a number of them in your letter. If you have never received treatment for your symptoms, then it would make sense that you feel the way you do. It’s important to know that treatment exists for these symptoms. If you are open to treatment, you can be helped.
It’s great that you have your horses. It’s also great that you are attempting to connect with God. Assuredly those strategies help to ease your emotional pain but they are not enough, at least not at this time. They are helpful adjuncts to treatment but they should not be considered substitutes for treatment.
I would encourage you to contact a mental health professional who specializes in PTSD. Treatment may involve trauma-focused psychotherapies including prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Other treatments may include medication and hypnotherapy, among others.
Meet with a mental health professional to begin treatment. Choose a therapist who makes you feel the most comfortable. You are not destined for a lonely life. You were a victim of trauma through no fault of your own. You can overcome these issues with treatment. I encourage you to give it a try. Good luck. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle