'I'm Having Distressing Thoughts' - A dark comedy about the journey with C-PTSD
Humour has long been recognised as a powerful tool for coping with challenging situations and providing relief in times of distress. For people with PTSD and C-PTSD, humour can serve as a valuable outlet; offering a unique way to not only navigate and process their experiences, but to also offer relief, perspective, and a sense of empowerment.
Sadia Gordon, who has personally battled with C-PTSD, has harnessed the transformative potential of comedy by writing a dark comedy that delves into her own experiences. Through ‘I’m having Distressing Thoughts’, Sadia has created a new show that not only entertains but also sheds light on the complexities of living with Complex PTSD, providing a fresh and relatable perspective on the path to healing and resilience.
We recently spoke to Sadia following the debt of her solo show in London, and ahead of her run in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August to ask her more about the show and how her comedy has helped her (and others!)…
“I don’t go into too much specific detail on my personal experience in my show. I’m Having Distressing Thoughts is more focused on the journey I went on to find the right help and the different things I tried.
I would say – being a creative – writing stories and creating characters from real life experience is a way that really works for me to process things that have happened.
In terms of comedy, my tendency has always been (and maybe this is because of grief/confusion/pain that I experienced in childhood) to find the joy and the lightness in the dark moments.
Things can feel so incredibly heavy a lot of the time and for me to be able to laugh at things that may otherwise/also cause me to feel great anger and sadness has always felt like a way for me to keep my head above water.
I do think sometimes humour can be used to avoid dealing with the pain and I think through all the work I’ve done on myself I’ve been able to steer it towards using it as a vessel to share and heal.
Humour also helps me to create connections and open channels with others without it hurting more to discuss shared pain and struggles. I seen this in action with show audiences already, after my London previews last week.
I wasn’t expecting so many people to come up to me after the show to let me know in which way they related or share a bit of their own mental health or trauma experience with me.
Suddenly the conversation around mental health was open and buzzing in the theatre pub and I really think the ease of access into these chats come from jokes and silly characters that we can smile at. It’s a gentle starting point into a deeper discussion.
My Complex PTSD bubbled up out of what felt like absolutely nowhere about three years ago, catching me completely off guard. Suddenly things that happened 25 years ago needed to be processed and along with that, my behaviour and thoughts didn’t feel like me anymore.
Even when things felt the lowest, I remember having flashes of how a certain moment I was experiencing would look if I was to write a play of it.
I truly think that alongside the professional help I found (significantly DBT & EMDR) my desire to share the bigger picture of my experience in the way I know how somehow pulled me out of the dark bits.”
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Treatments for PTSD
It is possible for PTSD to be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, which means it is never too late to seek help. For some, the first step may be watchful waiting, then exploring therapeutic options such as individual or group therapy – but the main treatment options in the UK are psychological treatments such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprogramming (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but confronting and understanding your feelings and seeking professional help is often the only way of effectively treating PTSD. You can find out more in the links below, or here.