Life After PTSD

Author: IAFF Staff

February 5, 2018

Trauma can disrupt nearly every aspect of your life. Whether you’ve already undergone treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or are considering reaching out for help, it’s important to remember that the work of recovery isn’t over once you’ve completed a PTSD program.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take after treatment to continue coping with past traumas and future obstacles. Every day won’t be easy, but learning to manage your symptoms is always worth it.

Remember What You Learned in Treatment

During treatment at the IAFF Center of Excellence, clients undergo reflective therapy, learn coping strategies and listen to the experiences of other IAFF members who are struggling. This process is incredibly healing for many, providing insight into the causes and thought processes associated with PTSD. It also helps reassure and remind clients that others also struggle with PTSD.

But professional care is just the first step to maintaining mental and physical wellness after completing treatment for PTSD. To reap long-term benefits from treatment, it’s important to continuously practice the principles of recovery in your daily life:

  • Use coping strategies and relaxation techniques if you feel symptoms return or if you feel overwhelmed by daily stressors and frustrations.
  • Maintain strong and supportive connections with friends and family who care about you.
  • Keep in touch with the IAFF members who underwent treatment with you, or join a support group for people dealing with PTSD.
  • Stay active in therapy with a counselor who has experience working with first responders.

Build the Life You Want to Live

Managing PTSD symptoms is just part of recovery. It’s equally important to begin creating the life you want to live after treatment. Spend some time thinking about your goals and aspirations. Once you’ve brainstormed what you want your life to look like, figure out how you’re going to get there. Identify any behaviors or steps you can take to achieve your goals. Whether you choose to stay in the fire service or begin a new career, engaging in work you find meaningful can infuse your life with purpose and help you stay strong in the face of adversity.

Embrace Setbacks

Even after successful treatment, setbacks are almost certain. Daily life is not without its challenges. Because of past trauma, certain places, things or experiences may trigger PTSD symptoms or disrupt your mental well-being in other ways. But even difficult times can be overcome by using coping skills, maintaining daily structure, seeking ongoing professional or peer support, and utilizing family and friends. Use the tough times as an opportunity to learn, become more resilient, and pursue lifelong recovery.

Coping with PTSD can be the endeavor of a lifetime. But you can learn to manage your symptoms and create a life worth living. If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD, the right treatment could help you work through symptoms and live a fuller, more fulfilling life during and after professional care.

The IAFF Center of Excellence is a treatment center designed specifically for IAFF members. With evidence-based therapies, healing support and compassionate care, we help countless IAFF members break free from the confines of mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Reach out to an intake coordinator today for more information, or to get started with treatment.

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