"I am Tanja Kuhn and I'm 41-years-old. I'm a mother, wife and caregiver, and I have secondary post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychiatric disorder than can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood.
My husband, a police officer, suffers from chronic epileptic PTSD. I got PTSD after he was involved in the Marikana disaster in 2012. He was one of the frontline officers and since that day, our life has been like a wild rollercoaster ride.
It’s not easy living with secondary PTSD but you can manage. Whatever the cause, whether a hijacking, rape, death, war, injury, illness, or an accident, it doesn’t matter, the day-to-day battle is the same.
Here is some advice I have for those living with PTSD:
1. Plan your day
Having a set routine is a foundation in coping with daily challenges of PTSD. Get up early enough to plan your day. If you just fall out of bed into your clothes and go to work, it’s a recipe for disaster.
2. Never skip your medication
Make sure that you have a healthy diet and take your meds; do not skip them.
3. Read up on your meds
Educate yourself about your medications and know their side effects and how they work. Update your prescription regularly. Our Clicks Pharmacy in Honey Ridge takes extra care explaining our medication and it makes me feel loved when we walk in there when the pharmacist says, 'Hello, Mr and Mrs Kuhn, how are you?' It’s this part of the basics that PTSD sufferers need.
4. Share with family and professionals
Make sure your support structure is healthy and positive. Attend therapy regularly.
5. Laugh every day
Although tears are part of the healing process, smiling and laughing really helps too. Cry if you have to; tears are part of the healing process.
6. Invest in the beautiful things
Refresh your thoughts every day, fill your mind with peace and beauty. Stop reasoning and stop trying to “figure stuff out”.
7. Break bad habits
Don’t let yourself fall into behaviour patterns you know are bad for you. Fight and choose life.
8. Get enough rest
If you have difficulty sleeping, tell your doctor – there are a lot meds on the market that can help.
9. Give a little to others
When you feel down, do something good for someone else. This will lift you to be a blessing to someone.
10. Keep positive
PTSD does change your family life too. Your personality changes and it becomes a constant struggle to carry on with your daily life. It makes you emotionally withdrawn, distant from family and society. You have to consciously fill your mind with positive thoughts."
(Tanja joined the trauma healing group, Buddy Care Vets-Help-Vets, which is a support group for all veterans of service, their families and affected friends and loved ones.)