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PTSD Triggers and the Holidays: Fabulous and Easy Cocktails | Wilson WritesToday’s Friday, which means a bit of fun and/or inspiration as we head into the weekend. If you’re new here, it is my tendency to make fun of my own mental health issues, which include Post Traumtic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. If you are not new here, then you already know that.

I’ve been focused lately on developing good mental health habits to help take me through those rough days. Christmas happens to be full of rough days, and that’s when my humor turns more flask-centered (ala Don’t Punch People in the Junk). I have even created my own advent calendar full of little liquor samples, just because I think it’s funny. I haven’t cracked open any of the little bottles yet; simply looking at it makes me laugh.

My PTSD goes into high gear this time of year. So when a good friend of mine suggested creating a list of cocktails to correspond with PTSD triggers, well…doesn’t that sound PERFECT?

Cocktails Based on PTSD Triggers

I’m all about themes. When I was a teacher, I used to give the annual Christmas party for the school staff members. These parties had themes based on cocktails that I made up. One of my favorites was The Bad Santa, which is vodka, kahlua, and egg nog. Another favorite is The Naughty Elf, which has something to do with Peppermint Schnapps and some grenadine for color.

Figuring out what kinds of cocktails to make based on PTSD triggers is like matching different types of wine with Halloween candy. Although, fun fact – when you do an internet search for “PTSD Cocktails,” you get lists of different combinations of medications to treat the disorder, so…

On a lighter note, enjoy these PTSD-themed holiday drinks with the corresponding symptoms of my brain disorder!

The Brain: PTSD Brain Disorder

In honor of PTSD as a brain disorder, here is the recipe for a delicious drink called the Brain. It’s served in a shot glass and looks like a pink brain suspended in liquid.

1 1/4 oz. strawberry vodka
1/8 oz. Rose’s lime juice
3/4 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream
Splash of grenadine

Black Magic: Depression

This drink has curiously odd black vodka that sits on the surface. You know, like depression or hopelessness about the future is right on or under the surface.

1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 oz. black vodka
1/2 oz. triple sec
orange wedge, for garnish

Dark & Stormy: Distress

I often feel “Dark & Stormy” this time of year. Common reactions to PTSD triggers include eevere emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the event.

2 parts ginger beer
1 part dark rum
lime juice

Liquified Ghost: Flashbacks

Flashbacks and memories are common to PTSD, which reminds me of the phrase, “ghosts of the past.”

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. vanilla simple syrup
1 oz. cream
2 oz. soda

Zombie: Trouble Sleeping

Oh man, this one I can totally relate with. I am often plagued by nightmares. Trouble sleeping can also be a big proble. The Bitters in this drink is totally appropriate.

1 oz. light rum
1 oz. dark rum
1 oz. apricot liquor
2 oz. orange juice
1 dash lime Bitters
1 oz. Bacardi 151 Rum

Danger: Hypervigilance

Hypervigilance is always being on guard for danger. Yes, it is exhausting. Relaxing can be tricky.

1 bottle of beer
3 oz. of vodka

Numb Tongue

PTSD Triggers and the Holidays: Fabulous and Easy Cocktails | Wilson WritesDuring my last PTSD support group, the facilitator told us that people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder tend to feel all the feelings at the maximum level or nothing at all. Feeling emotionally numb is very common, especially during times of stresss.

2 part(s) Lipton Brisk Iced Tea
1 part(s) Vodka

I Don’t Remember – Memory Problems

Memory problems are directly related to mental and emotional exhaustion. Physical exhaustion – including not sleeping – can make memory issues worse.

1.25 oz. Malibu coconut rum
.75 oz. Tuaca
.5 oz. Disarono
.5 oz. Pama
.25 oz. Lemon juice
.25 oz. Lime juice
.5 oz. Simple syrup

Spiked Coffee – Startles Easily

Loud noises and unexpected – well, anything – can be very disturbing for those of us with PTSD. Like being way overcaffeinated and unable to slow your heartbeat and somebody tries to spontaneously tickle you. This recipe is obviously made to share with others, so you can all be easily scared.

1 1/2 cups coffee liqueur (recommended: Kahlua)
1 cup dark creme de cacoa
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 cup espresso, cooled
1 orange wedge
Orange sugar crystals
12 ice cubes


Healing is always possible.

2 oz. light rum
1 oz. orange juice
2 oz. blackberry Brandy
2 oz. strawberry puree
1 c. ice

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For twenty years, I thought that I had been marching through the stages of grief in a straight line. I had been following the formula, crossing each processed grief experience off my list.

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From that moment, my path through grief resembled a roller coaster, spiraling and twisting and turning, circling back around. Echoes of past trauma, including childhood abuse and cheating death, would no longer be ignored. I somehow needed to get from the beginning to the end of this grief adventure, and I don’t have a good sense of direction.

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