Sufferer I self-medicated by staying busy (flight mode!), thrill-seeking, and smoking weed


New Here
Hi all! I've just discovered this forum and reading a thread about recovery filled my heart with so much hope that I created an account. Introducing myself today to add my voice to the chorus: You are not alone.

My story:

Symptoms started at age 18 as isolation, avoidance, depression. In the early days, there was a lot of disassociation, numbing, and hiding. Suicide ideation for many years. Eventually, depression seemed to yield to anxiety, which fueled basically all of my actions in one way or another. I lived my twenties going full-throttle: completely independent from my family of origin, putting myself through college, working three jobs, going hard to try to "make it" because I wasn't sure I was going to survive. I self-medicated by staying busy (flight mode!), thrill-seeking, and smoking weed every day to chill. My immune system was basically taxed all the time, so I would pretty regularly get sick and when I did, I would get REALLY sick.

During one of those bouts of illness, I quit smoking cigarettes and tried acupuncture (age 27). This was my first experience feeling my nervous system in a calm state. It changed my life by facilitating a totally different state of being. I wanted that feeling more. I started learning more about parasympathetic vs. sympathetic nervous systems and this is when i started to build the theory that what I had survived was more than just terrible luck.

I was hesitant to work with a therapist for a long time and had a dozen very reasonable excuses; I can see now that I didn't have nearly the financial/mental/emotional capacity for this work while I was busy trying to survive. I leaned on different modalities I could access as stop-gaps: acupuncture, running, yoga, coaching, float tanks, energy healing, essential oils, mindfulness. I was forever trying different combinations of those things to try to soothe what was going on inside until my thrill-seeking hit a new high in 2019. I was really afraid of what I'm capable of, which is when I sought out a therapist.

Current state:
- Diagnosed with PTSD in January 2020 by a therapist who specializes in trauma. (Had suspected this was the case for +/-5 years...)
- Currently attending weekly 1:1 EMDR therapy and using an app called PTSDCoach to develop coping strategies.
- Therapy has been .................. wow, life-changing. Also, symptoms def got uglier before they got any better. :(
- Currently feeling relief from symptoms following bilateral stimulation in the last six weeks

Primary symptoms:
- Rage
- Nightmares (I re-experience emotions and wake up triggered)
- Anxiety, including obsessive/compulsive tendencies
- Avoidance of triggering media (anything with jail/prisons, cops, courtrooms) and distressing emotions
- Extreme hyper-vigilance, exaggerated startle response, irritability
- Thrill-seeking :)

Y'all, I am happy to be here. I am so glad and grateful to be alive.
I am hopeful for the first time in a long, long time.
Special shout-out to @somerandomguy whose post about his three distinct phases of PTSD made me tear up in recognition.
Sending love.


Welcome to the Forum! I'm sorry for the reasons that bring you here but glad you have found us. You are definitely not alone! I hope you are as lucky as I have been here, that you will find really good info and friendship.
Blessings to you and yours!
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Welcome @River_Witch! Glad you read some things before joining. Helps to know the atmosphere. No other place quite like this one. Someone will usually always relate to what is going on, the good, bad or ugly. Utilize the forum. It is support and friendships that matter.