Bridlington woman speaks out about living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Gemma Hill with her partner Jez Wardle
Gemma Hill with her partner Jez Wardle

A Bridlington woman has spoken out about living with post-traumatic stress disorder to raise awareness during Stress Awareness Month.

Gemma Hill sought help from her GP after she began self harming, being aggressive towards her partner and suffering from night terrors.

The 32-year-old was diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder(EUPD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by childhood abuse.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events, and personality disorders can have a wide range of symptoms involving severe mood changes over a short space of time.

“I had a support worker for many years, but I couldn’t talk to them properly about what was going on inside my head. They didn’t know how to listen to me properly, and so things got pushed to the side, making things worse,” she said.

Her GP recommended that Gemma start an online text-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a therapist, to which she agreed and “never looked back”.

The mum-of-two, who lives in Tennyson Avenue, said:“I was suffering from night terrors and knew I needed help. My GP was really supportive and recommended Ieso CBT which is helping me to put coping mechanisms in place. If I wake from a night terror, I can now think of it as a movie which I’m directing and take control of the thoughts I’m having.”

After just a few weeks Gemma said that she noticed a reduction in night terrors, self harm and stress levels and could talk to people if they came to visit her – which she couldn’t do before.

As part of her therapy Gemma has learnt techniques to reduce her stress levels including having signs around the house such as “it wasn’t your fault”, “you can be happy”, “going out and getting fresh air is good for me” and “I can get through this”.

“The little signs remind me that the abuse I received as a child isn’t my fault and I’m allowed to have bad days. Under every quote I have my partner’s name Jez and my children’s names so that I remember that I’m not just doing it for me but for them as well so we can have a proper life.”

Now Gemma is recieveing the help she needs she wants to raise awareness of stress and urge people to seek help.

“For anyone living with stress I would urge them to get help and trust in the people who are there to help you. One bad day can lead to many more and day-to-day stress can lead to life-long problems.

“I couldn’t tell someone face-to-face how I was feeling, but the help I received from Ieso allowed me to let it all out and find ways to cope.

“I’ve found it so much easier to open up to a therapist I didn’t know and couldn’t see. I feel anxious going out, so Ieso’s CBT from home meant that it was based around me and my needs.

“I know how hard it is to take that first step in seeking help and the courage it takes, but I really believe if you’re living with stress it’s got to be worth a try to help you find a way to cope,” Gemma said.

Research of over 100 people, aged 16 to 35 years old in East Riding, shows that...

60% of under 35s in East Riding have experienced stress and 55% have suffered poor sleep as a result of worry or stress

66% of people in East Riding said they would feel uncomfortable asking for time off for a mental health appointment.

85% agreed that organising appointments with a therapist outside of education/work hours was appealing.

69% agreed they would be more likely to seek help or start therapy if they could do it when and where it was most convenient for them.

66% of responders agreed they would be more likely to seek help or start therapy if they knew no-one would find out.

Just 30% of respondents were aware that CBT is available online, yet 62% agreed that they would be encouraged to use it if they knew it was available online.

74% of respondents felt that online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) delivered by therapists in real-time through written conversation via a computer, tablet or smartphone was an appealing therapy over face-to-face CBT.

69% believe online therapy would be more convenient to receive and 62% were interested in finding out more about it.

Figures commissioned by Ieso Digital Health for Stress Awareness Month. People over the age of 18 who are registered to a participating GP in East Riding can self-refer for free to benefit from Ieso online CBT at eastriding.iesohealth.uk/Registration