"I couldn't trust absolutely anything that surrounded me. Anxiety is when you fall asleep and wake up with the thought that something is going to happen. It's hard to eat because you're almost constantly sick of everything... And also uncontrolled acts of aggression"...

A few years ago, Kateryna Halushka decided to become a paramedic and went to the front.

The girl did not know what consequences this brave decision would lead to. 

"I felt an inner need to be useful, so after completing the courses, I went on my first rotation as a paramedic," says Katya.

- The medical welfare of "Hospitaliera" became my family, and the war became a part of my life.

The first mental symptoms began to appear in the 20th year, and at the beginning of the 21st, everything had already spilled out in full.  

Katya became a victim of PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder.

An ailment that, according to statistics, 30% of combatants face.

And which can potentially threaten every Ukrainian.

So what is PTSD and how to deal with it?

"What do the symptoms of PTSD indicate?

About the fact that the person was traumatized, and this trauma is very deep.

A person can experience any situation related to this trauma over and over again.

Flashbacks occur when a person returns to the state when a traumatic event occurred and reacts in the same way as he reacted then, even though there is no real threat at the moment," psychologist Oksana Zaitseva explains the mechanics of PTSD. 

Neurobiologist Victoria Kravchenko explains what is happening in the body at this moment: "The level of cortisol is reduced and the level of those hormones that ensure the "flight or fight" reaction is increased. Everything around is perceived as a potential threat, and this creates a constant state of tension. In addition, weakened those brain signals that provide inhibition - from there reactive behavior, aggression."

Her closest friends Sofya and Solomiya Artemchuk were the first to talk about the fact that Katya started showing symptoms of PTSD after returning from the front.

The girls noticed that Katya became restless and aggressive: "She seems to be unable to find a place for herself, starts to hide herself in a corner, it throws her into a kind of nervousness. At some points, we had to close our eyes to harsh words, to offensive phrases. We understood that Katya didn't want to offend us, she just couldn't control her emotions sometimes."

Following the psyche, Kata's body also began to malfunction: "For several months, I simply did not have a female cycle. If I did not start treating this problem as well, it could lead to infertility."

The girl tried to get used to the mental antics on her own, until panic attacks were added to the anxiety and aggression: "There is a memorial bell on the territory of the Ministry of Defense. And every day there is a memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers. Every time a name is called, it rings shot. And then I hear this shot and realize that I'm starting to twist, my whole body is shaking, I want to run and cry at the same time. At first, a feeling of fear appears, and after it - anger at myself, at this weakness." 

Katya realized that these attacks would kill her, and turned to a doctor.

This is the best a girl could do in such a situation. 

It is important to remember that PTSD is a medical diagnosis.

Not every traumatic event causes its development.

But if you or a loved one notice a combination of the following symptoms, you should consult a doctor: 

  • obsessive trauma experience;

  • alienation of memories;

  • emotional numbness;

  • excessive vigilance; 

  • problems with sleep and concentration. 

"PTSD is a very complex disease.

We do not know the reasons for which a shock injury develops into a clinical form.

A person can be in a war zone, but not get PTSD.

And it can happen that a person, for example, could just watch a program and get this injury," explains the psychologist. 

"This disorder significantly changes the functioning of connections in the brain," says neurobiologist Victoria Kravchenko.

"To fix them, you need long and careful work - both with a psychotherapist to reassess the traumatic situation, and drug therapy under the supervision of a psychiatrist." 

Hospitalist Kateryna realizes that she began to overcome PTSD only after she herself admitted that something was wrong with her: "The fact that you can calmly say that you go to a psychiatrist, that you drink sedatives and antidepressants, allows you to better cope with problem. Of course, in doing so, you have to bring out memories of things that you really want very much to forget."  

The treatment gradually brought Kateryna to health.

But a new grief happened - the girl's lover died defending Mariupol: "Honey, we are being breached, let's stay in the same place" - a few hours after this voice message, he died, which I learned only 5 days later, all this time believing that he is alive and there is simply no connection... Losing Anton is the worst thing that has happened in my life so far.

The pain was so strong that it seemed to me that I was already dead.

You wake up, and your first thought is that he is gone... And you don't want to live this day anymore"... 

The new trauma provoked a new round of disorder, with which Katya is still struggling: "The therapy helped because now I really cope with it easier. Because I understand what is happening to me, how I should react, what I should pay attention to , to whom and with what should I come, so that I feel better." 

However, recognizing the existence of a problem, let alone going to a specialist, is quite difficult for people with PTSD symptoms.

Usually, this requires careful and patient support from the environment! 

"To close in and go away, to be alone - yes, this is present in almost all people who suffer from PTSD - Sofia and Solomiya Artemchuk, Kateryna's closest friends, share their observations.

- The only thing that remains is to simply ask the person: "Do you want me to be near you, or should I leave you?".

And perceive the phrase "leave me" not as an insult, not as repulsion, but as a need.

And it would be a big mistake not to recognize her PTSD.

Like, say, what problems can you have there?

Such people - on the contrary, they need maximum recognition." 

Katya and her friends, who went through the hell of war, claim that honesty with oneself, recognition of the problem, and a sense of humor help to fight the disease. 

"It seems that death is the most terrible thing that can happen to you, because then you just disappear.

And it should be scary.

But when you make fun of fear, it no longer affects you so much, - Katya is sure.

- So I say this: at my funeral, suddenly something, either Stepan Giga will play the song "Yavoryna", or I will curse you all from the other world!

You laugh at it like that, even funerals seem like a whole concert to you.

And I live on! 

Tell us how you are coping with your traumatic experience.

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Let's find out together how to "Live Further"!