My Ex-Husband Gave Me Chronic Nightmares And PTSD

Nightmares from PTSD

I have horrific nightmares almost every night.

Heart-pounding, bone-shattering, dramatic spikes of adrenaline pulse through my body and I wake-up drenched in fear-soaked sweat. Sometimes, I awake to find myself posed in my doorway like an Olympic sprinter, attempting to bolt away from my terrible night visions.

The root of my problem? I feel unsafe and vulnerable.

Even though there is no imminent, tangible threat, I always feel in danger. This is the direct result of PTSD caused by my past marriage.

RELATED: 5 Ways People With PTSD Love Differently In Relationships

Emotional abuse is often unnoticed and unrecognized, but it can have severe and long-lasting effects on a person’s mental health.

It can be difficult to recognize emotional abuse, especially when you’re in the midst of it.

When I was married, I didn’t realize that what I was experiencing was emotional abuse. It wasn’t until after I left the relationship that I began to understand the ways in which I had been emotionally manipulated and mistreated.

Emotional abuse can take many forms, but some examples include belittling, blaming, name-calling, gaslighting, and isolating the victim from friends and family.

These actions can lead to a host of negative emotions, including feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, and depression.

It took me a long time to recognize that this behavior was abusive. I thought it was just normal behavior in a marriage, and that I needed to try harder to please my spouse.

But the truth is this: emotional abuse is never normal or acceptable. And it can have serious long-term effects on your mental health.

My emotional abuse led to PTSD.

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. White PTSD is often associated with military combat, it can also occur after experiencing other types of trauma, including emotional abuse.

PTSD symptoms can be intense and overwhelming, and they can affect every aspect of your life. Some common symptoms are:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Hypervigilance or constantly feeling on edge
  • Avoidance of triggers
  • Difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or feeling positive emotions

For me, the PTSD symptoms didn’t start until after my marriage ended. Now I have nightmares of the abuse that happened. Worse, I have night terrors of things that never did happen but easily could have.

I also have intrusive thoughts about the abuse during the day, and I feel constantly on edge, waiting for the next attack.

PTSD symptoms are scary, especially if you don’t know what’s causing them. But recognizing the symptoms is an important step in getting help and starting the healing process.

RELATED: 5 Heartbreaking Signs Your Spouse Is Silently Suffering From PTSD

Coping with the symptoms of PTSD can be a challenging and ongoing process, but her are strategies that help:

1. Exercise and meditation

Personally, I have found that exercise and meditation are helpful for managing my anxiety and stress levels. These activities help me to feel more grounded and give me a sense of control over my body and mind.

2. Social support

Social Support can come from friends, family members, or support groups for survivors. The important thing is to remind yourself that you are not alone.

3. Creative activities

Creative activities can include anything from painting and drawing to writing and singing. Engaging your creative side will release natural chemicals that encourage happiness.

4. Mindfulness

Mindfulness can involve focusing on the present moment and paying attention to one’s thoughts and emotions without judgment.

If you are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, it is important to seek professional help.

Therapy and counseling can be incredibly beneficial for individuals with PTSD, helping them to process their trauma and develop healthy coping mechanisms. There are a variety of different types of therapy and counseling available, including cognitive-behavior therapy, exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that are associated with PTSD.

In CBT, a therapist will work with you to identify and challenge negative thoughts, develop coping strategies, and gradually expose you to situations that trigger your PTSD symptoms.

Exposure therapy is another type of therapy that can be effective for individuals with PTSD.

A therapist will work with you to gradually expose you to the traumatic event or situations that trigger your PTSD symptoms. This exposure can be done in a controlled and safe environment and can help you to process the trauma and learn to manage your symptoms.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a type of therapy that uses eye movements to help you process traumatic memories.

This process can help to desensitize you to the trauma and reduce your symptoms.

It can difficult to take the first steps towards seeking professional help, but it is important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength.

Talking to a therapist has helped me process my trauma, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and is continuing to improve the overall quality of my life.

RELATED: 18 Signs Of Gaslighting & Examples Of How It Plays Out In Abusive Relationships

Finding the strength to acknowledge emotional abuse and its effects on mental health can be a difficult and painful journey.

If you are reading this, it’s likely you or someone you know has experienced emotional abuse in a past relationship, and may be struggling with PTSD symptoms as a result.

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, scared, and uncertain about the future. I’ve often wondered how I can possibly move forward.

Healing is a process that takes time, effort, and patience. I’ve had to acknowledge the emotional abuse and its effects, recognize my symptoms of PTSD, and have sought professional help.

Although it hasn’t been easy, what has helped me is the realization that I am not alone in this journey. With the help of my support group and professionals, I know there is hope and healing on the other side. I remind myself daily that I deserve to be treated with respect and kindness, and I have the power to create a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, you’re not alone.

There are ways to go about asking for help as safely as possible. For more information, resources, legal advice, and relevant links visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For anyone struggling with domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474 or log onto thehotline.org.

RELATED: 3 Disturbing PTSD Symptoms That Surface In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Lilly Strong is a freelance writer focused on personal wellness. Her blog focuses on encouragement, self-care, and rising from the ashes of betrayal.