What it feels like to have PTSD

Published on September 25, 2019

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder feels like you are in constant survival mode.  There are days when the darkness overcomes you, but you’re not sure why.  Your muscles are often sore and tense because they are preparing for fight or flight.  You feel paranoid that something wrong could happen at any given time.  The tension builds inside of your body as you hope that you won’t have a panic attack or a flashback in public.  You can’t remember the last time that you woke up feeling rested.

Here are some of the symptoms of PTSD:


Flashbacks feel like you are reliving the trauma that happened in the past. Your brain makes a connection with a current trigger or something that currently reminds you of the past trauma, and then your nervous system relives the trauma physically, emotionally or through your other senses such as sight, hearing and smell.  Sometimes the flashbacks feel worse than the original trauma.  A flashback might feel like a tension building in your body before they happen.


You might have frequent nightmares. This can lead to the feeling that you aren’t getting enough rest.  You may or may not remember your nightmare in the morning, but the emotion from the dream might linger with you.

Lack of trust

It might feel impossible to trust other people and yourself because the world feels incredibly unsafe. Trusting others might be terrifying and leave you feeling vulnerable.  This lack of trust can create avoidance of others, resulting in a lack of connection with those around you. This lack of trust can also look like hypervigilance.  Hypervigilance is the feeling that you are always on guard, watching your back.

Terror and rage

You might experience that minor things become magnified. Your nervous system goes into fight or flight, and you react in a way that you later regret.  Lashing out at others might happen if a past experience comes into the present moment. In order to avoid the feelings of terror, you might try to avoid people, emotions and places that remind you of the trauma. People with PTSD feel ashamed after they have a big reaction.  This shame only adds to the suffering.


The shame can come from blaming yourself from how you were treated or how you reacted during the trauma. I often hear people say, “I am broken.” The shame can feel heavy and lead to self-harming or suicidal thoughts.  When people go through a trauma, their mind and body survive the best way that they can at the moment.  They might have done something during the incident that they later regretted.  They might blame themselves for the abuse or terror that they have undergone.


Blaming yourself or others for the trauma leads to a false sense of control. The false logic is, If I can blame someone or something, then perhaps I can prevent this from happening again.  Knowing that there are unpredictable events in the universe can feel terrifying.

Depression, anxiety and grief

There will be days that you are anxious because you are waiting for the other shoe to drop, for someone or something to hurt you. There will be days that you will feel depressed because it feels like you will never feel better.  There will be days that you grieve the loss of others and the loss of yourself.

Your body will hurt

The adrenaline that is flowing through your veins, preparing you to fight or run, might leave your muscles sore and achy, you might get headaches or stomach aches.

PTSD often feels hopeless, but it is not.  Some treatments will help ease your suffering.  You might feel like you are a warrior, in a constant battle for survival.  It’s ok to stop fighting.


If you feel like you have some of these symptoms please do contact me to set up an appointment. Please contact +852 2521 4668 or email m.borschel@mindnlife.com

Photo by Fernando @dearferdo on Unsplash

Category(s):Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Trauma / Complex PTSD

Written by:

Dr Monica Borschel

Dr Borschel specialises in Attachment and Loss. She is experienced in helping adults, teens, children, and families adjust to anxiety, trauma, abuse, divorce, separation, loss of a loved one, and loss of finance. This may include deciding what is in the best interest of the children during custody disputes, strengthening the relationship and communication between the parents and the children.

Dr. Borschel’s attachment-based psychodynamic therapy along with EMDR, enables her clients to find healing within themselves. In so doing, she can help adults, teens, and children to overcome anxiety, trauma, neglect, emotional, verbal, physical abuse, and child abuse.

Furthermore, as an attachment specialist, she also helps individuals understand relationship patterns which prevent them from developing or maintaining healthy relationships. She is able to help reduce anxiety, insomnia, depression and promote confidence and self-esteem.
Dr. Borschel is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. She graduated with her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in New York City. She later moved to Hong Kong to pursue her doctorate at the University of Hong Kong in Social Work and Social Administration.

Registered Clinical Psychologist with The Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology. Member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Counseling Association (ACA), The British Psychological Society (BPS), and the Hong Kong Family Law Association (HKFLA).
B.S. Psychology, from The University of Utah in Salt Lake City, USA
M.A. Clinical Psychology, from Columbia University in New York City, USA
PH.D Social Work and Social Administration, from the University of Hong Kong

Mental Health News