Guest Blog: Calming the ‘riot’ in my head

Guest Blog: 'Calming the riot' in my head: Anna

In our collective journey to navigate the complexities of PTSD and C-PTSD, finding peace and space within the internal turbulence is vital. In this insightful guest blog, author Anna sheds light on the significance of discovering her own personalised coping mechanisms. Living with PTSD involves an ongoing quest to ‘calm the riot’ within the mind, and as we explore the unique avenues that offer respite, we uncover not only relief but a deeper understanding of ourselves. This guest blog from Anna details her personal experiences and shows the transformative power of activities that go beyond conventional therapeutic approaches.

“Sometimes, there is too much noise in my head. My PTSD may not be triggered, but my brain is loud. I might be worrying about a potential threat or dwelling on something that scared me or aware of a strange noise or fearful of something I have to do. Even when life seems peaceful on a surface level, my mind can be whirring like something terrible is happening.

This means that things that can calm the riot inside of me are such a relief. Activities that pull my focus enough for the commentary of fear to lessen give me a chance to breathe and bring myself back to a comfortable place where I can see the world clearly.

I’ve had PTSD for my whole adult life, so having techniques to quiet my mind have been uncovered through years of trial and error. TV isn’t great for me, as it’s too loud and stimulating. Music can also be tough, as I am very hypersensitive to noise and worry what the songs could be blocking out. 

But getting out into nature always instantly turns the volume on the noise inside my head right down. I go on a walk with my constantly optimistic Labrador, and it’s like something more than fear can enter my head. The sky and trees and fresh air all become much more dominant than whatever thoughts are clouding my mind.

I love kayaking for the same reason. I push out onto the water, and a sense of peace falls over me. It’s hard to have the brain space for fear when there’s so much else to focus on.

I love the outdoors and find even sitting on my backstep so helpful for bringing quiet to my thoughts, but writing also has a unique power to pull me away from fearful patterns of thinking. Sometimes it can be hard to get started but once I’m absorbed in typing away, it’s like I’m transported into the stories I’m telling. All the noise is left behind as I enter someone else’s mind.

I have been writing for about ten years, and the pause writing gives me from the thoughts that swirl in my mind is one of the greatest respites I have from PTSD symptoms. I can escape my often fearful reality and take a break from the battering thoughts that crowd me.

Writing also gives me a chance to work through some of the complicated feelings having PTSD brings up. In my debut novel, Shot in the Dark,* the main character also has PTSD. Gabe’s trauma is vastly different to my own, as are her triggers, coping mechanisms, and reactions to fear – but writing about her experiences has been so incredibly healing. 

I do have to take time to ground myself after writing intense scenes, but more often I feel intense gratitude. I get to take this horrible thing inside of me and put it onto paper. I hope it helps others with PTSD feel less alone, and I hope it helps people without it understand how it works a bit more.

I feel such compassion for Gabe, which in turn helps me to feel the same for myself. PTSD can sometimes feel like an endless struggle and the temptation towards frustration at myself is immense, but laying out similar feelings to my own on the page helps me to see that I’m not to blame and that it’s okay to be tired. Writing about trauma helps me to be kind when I struggle with my own.”

You can buy a copy of Anna’s novel ‘Shot in the Dark’ on Amazon here. Please note if you purchase a copy of this book through this Amazon link, they will donate a percentage of the books cost to PTSD UK at no extra cost to you. 

Find out more about how writing can help people with PTSD and C-PTSD here, and learn more about our Ink and Insight Project here, designed to remove all the barriers to getting started to finding how creativity can help support you. 

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