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The Broke Girl's Guide to Surviving PTSD

Are you dealing with a PTSD diagnosis and a broke ass bank account? 

I feel you.

Here are my best tips.

[Obligatory "I am not a doctor. Don't self-diagnose. These are just friendly tips. Blah blah blah]"

  1. If you can afford to go to therapy, do so. It has literally saved my life.
  2. “Mindfulness Skills for Trauma and PTSD” is an incredible book that I have found very helpful. It is also available at the library, so extra points for being able to get it for free. 
  3. “Overcoming trauma and PTSD” is another great workbook with lots of great exercises and “homework”.
  4. “The Body Keeps The Score” is the BEE’S KNEES. It’s not a workbook as much as it’s THE book on the theories, research and best practices for addressing and understanding trauma. If you need validation through research, this is IT. Also available at public libraries!
  5. "Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story" is a memoir by Mac McClelland that is intense, dark, funny AF and so, so validating. I interviewed her on my radio show a few years ago and she's great.
  6. The Calm App is a free app with tons of meditations, grounding exercises, even a guided meditation to help you sleep (that when it finishes, shuts down your phone!) It has a bajillion paid upgrades if you’re down.
  7. Respect. Femme. Skills. And integrate them into your healing. No word of a lie, the #1 thing that’s helped me with mindfulness is getting my nails done. Having long, delicate nails has ensured that I have to constantly be aware of what my hands are doing, how much pressure I put when I lift a suitcase, typing, etc. These might seem like small things, but they forced me to be constantly aware of my body and force me to stay connected. When I first got my nails done, I was breaking them constantly. Not only was it very stressful and annoying, but it drove home how much I was never conscious of what my body was doing and really detached.  Also, having pretty nails is just lovely. (Shout-out to my homegirls Dorothy, Elva, Sophia and Ruby at Crazy Nails!)  
  8. Find your best grounding exercise. I don't do well with traditional grounding exercises of counting backwards or finding all the red things in a room. I think because I taught them for so long as a peer support worker, I see through them? But I've found planning outfits is my best way. Legit. I get particularly consumed with anxiety when I lay in bed at night. It feels like a 300lb man sitting on my chest and it suuuuuuuuucks. My mind races and before I know it, it's been hours and I haven't slept a wink. Gross. But what I've found to be effective is that when the dude gets ready to squish me (AKA I can feel the anxiety creeping in), I tell myself "K, Julie. Whatcha gonna wear tomorrow? Or for that big event next week?" And I start planning every detail. The shoes, the accessories, the hair, the lipstick colour, etc. Because fashion and outfits are not a source of stress for me but rather a source of fun, it distracts me from the impending doom feeling and helps focus me. Before I know it, I've picked out a cute ensemble AND fallen asleep.

Not full proof. Not universal. But they work for me and I hope some might be helpful for you, too. 

Take care, friends.