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Non-Soldiers Suffer Post-Traumatic Stress

August 15, 2005

GLENVILLE, N.Y. (AP) -- For hundreds of thousands of Americans, mental illness is just a drive down the road. Ask Beth Puglisi. The 45-year-old mother was out to fill her gas tank on a bitter-cold January day last year. She turned the wheel of her pickup, felt a wrenching jolt, and watched the roadway fly into a spin.

"No!" she heard herself screech. The rubbery aroma of spilled antifreeze filled her nostrils.

In the days after her crash with a car, she took to the couch, weeping -- but not over her fractured vertebra and dislocated shoulder. Her mind was staggering.

"It felt like a death," she says.

Her body was quickly tended, but it took months before doctors even put a name to her other injury: post-traumatic stress disorder.

Once associated mainly with the horror of combat, PTSD has stretched to take in more frequent swerves along life's road -- car crashes, house fires, a sudden death or severe family illness, witnessing a disaster, or even learning of one. PTSD has broadened the model of mental illness to cover disturbances set off solely by external events, outside of the mind. Almost anyone can be vulnerable.

Research suggests the disorder is now present in 5 percent of Americans, or more than 13 million, according to the PTSD Alliance, which unites professionals and advocates. It is expected to touch 8 percent of adults during their lives. By contrast, just over 3 percent of Americans have cancer.

Puglisi had been in accidents before, but she never felt this way.

She couldn't stop picking over this crash in her mind. It wasn't her fault; it just wasn't. So why did it have to happen? Why?

Her family encouraged her to talk: "Each time I would tell someone about it, I could feel it and smell it -- the whole thing." In a kind of flashback typical of PTSD, she could still smell the antifreeze.

As PTSD's debilitating anxiety took hold, Puglisi started to feel nervous, flushed, even lightheaded when she was driven to a doctor or physical therapist. She would tremble, and her chest would tighten: "Just thinking about it was making me crazy."

When she tried driving again, she'd have to circle around to avoid making the same kind of turn as in the crash. She'd bypass where it happened. Ashamed, she asked her husband to drive the children to their activities.

While television droned war news from Iraq, she felt trapped in her own combat zone: "When you're in the war, you have no idea if you're going to be alive or dead in 10 minutes. That's exactly the way I felt."

Warring soldiers have carried home psychological scars for centuries. The ancient Greeks noticed it.

In American wars, it has been called shell shock, combat fatigue and post-Vietnam syndrome. Though skeptics discounted some cases as shams meant to win compensation, other extreme cases were taken for schizophrenia.

Medical authorities first accepted PTSD as a distinct psychiatric condition in 1980 at the urging of Vietnam veterans and their medical caretakers.

In PTSD, stress hormones like adrenaline scorch a painful event deep into long-term memory, scientists believe. Lab studies show such hormones normally improve memory in animals. They seem to overshoot the mark in PTSD.

People get very edgy and fearful, prone to nightmares or flashbacks. They desperately want to avoid reminders of their shock, even to the point of feeling numb. PTSD happens more often in women, in cases of multiple traumas (Puglisi had another road accident just a couple weeks earlier), and in people with depression.

Once defined, the disease was soon embraced, and insurance coverage expanded. Here was a psychiatric condition touched off by concrete events, not something hidden in the mind's dim recesses. It could theoretically happen to anyone, even the hardiest and soundest of mind. It wasn't your fault.

The federal government established the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It began researching PTSD and treating hundreds of thousands of veterans. Survivors from rape and car crashes began to seek therapy in greater numbers too. In 1994, the sudden death of a relative, or even learning that one was hurt, joined the expanding list of PTSD traumas in the chief diagnostic manual for psychiatry.

By the late 1990s, when Dr. Greenbrier Almond was working as a psychiatrist at a West Virginia veterans hospital, PTSD was already its leading diagnosis, above heart disease and diabetes, he says.

Over the past five years, the number of cases among veterans -- mostly from combat -- has exploded nationally by almost 80 percent to 215,871 last year, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is the agency's fastest-growing disability.

No similar statistics are collected for civilians, but the numbers are clearly substantial. Dr. Almond, who has left the veterans hospital, now treats PTSD in abused children at a community health clinic. Research at Henry Ford Health System, Harvard and Georgia State has identified the two leading causes of PTSD as unexpected deaths of relatives and car crashes. Combat ranks far down on the list.

Some bad diagnosticians and purveyors of pop culture have come to consider just about any of life's shocks -- divorcing, losing a job, even failing a test -- as triggers for PTSD. Though veterans officials say rising awareness has driven most of their growth, they are also reviewing whether some cases have been diagnosed too readily.

"Anything that happens to you that's remotely icky now qualifies," says psychologist J. Gayle Beck, at the University at Buffalo-State University of New York. "It's been culturally overdiagnosed."

This psychiatric illness has carried cultural baggage since its birth in the social turmoil over the Vietnam War. The new disorder tied to external events meshed with a Kafkaesque view of society inherited from the 1960s: Outside forces constantly threaten peace of mind.

Since 2001, PTSD has tapped into another source of anxiety: terrorists who can inflict mass death in an instant. A survey found highly elevated rates of PTSD in the New York metropolitan area, where the smoking towers of the World Trade Center could be seen for miles.

Afterward, some companies sent reassuring notices to workers listing PTSD symptoms and saying they were common responses. One compared them to a minor flu.

"It speaks to dangerous times and threats, and that certainly defines our era," says Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a Harvard University psychiatrist who helped define PTSD as a condition. "There is bound to be widespread PTSD and an awareness of it."

Even so, many people with PTSD still do not come forward for help, caregivers say. And even experts may miss the signs.

"My father dropped dead in front of my mother. She developed PTSD for two years, and I was completely unaware of it. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know it was PTSD," says psychologist Terence Keane.

Yet he is director of behavioral science at the federal PTSD center.

The good news is this: Even untreated, PTSD goes away in about half of the cases within six months, research indicates.

The bad news: When it doesn't, it can last for decades.

Puglisi had never needed therapy before and didn't think of treating her embarrassing automotive anxiety.

"I would say I'm all right," she recalls. But she wasn't.

Her doctor told her she'd soon get over it, but her physical therapists knew better. After several months, they persuaded her to look for help.

She found Edward Hickling, a former veterans psychologist who now specializes in road-accident PTSD.

"I came to private practice, and I saw motor-vehicle accident victims that looked a lot like ... the post-traumatic stress responses I saw in the veterans hospital," says the therapist based in nearby Albany.

Like many PTSD therapists, he relies on cognitive behavioral therapy. A common psychological treatment, it teaches how to replace negative mental monologues ("I could die on the way to work") with positive, rational ones ("I'll probably get there just fine, as usual"). It can be carried out one-on-one or in groups.

Like many PTSD therapists, Hickling re-exposes participants to memories of the terrifying situation, while desensitizing them over a few months or longer. They start by telling what happened and graduate to driving back to the crash site.

One woman was able to drive back and gaze at the place where her car plunged down a hill, trapping her for more than two hours. Later, she felt as though she had "removed a cloud from her brain," according to Hickling.

The therapy can work in up to 75 percent of road-accident survivors with chronic PTSD, research suggests.

Some patients, though, can't tolerate thoughts of their ordeal. "It's just too painful," says psychologist Charles Figley, at Florida State University. Lesser symptoms persist in many people.

Psychiatrists often treat PTSD with drugs. The federal government has approved two depression medicines, Zoloft and Paxil, for PTSD. Research suggests they help at least a quarter of PTSD patients.

Other researchers are experimenting with potential PTSD drugs like anti-adrenaline agents and the antibiotic D-cycloserine. In theory, they might disrupt the consolidation of long-term PTSD memories or help the brain forget them later.

Psychological therapy alone conquered Puglisi's symptoms, though it took a year.

She still hasn't gone back to work but doesn't feel so alone. Now she knows of many others like her: "The mind does this sometimes."

What happened to her, she has learned, is normal.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Edited by 20YearsandCounting
alter title to reflect merged threads

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Unquiet, do you mean like a dissociative like experience when you say out of body? I ask because I caught myself leaving my body as I was driving this summer and thought it was dissociative "but" when I mentioned it to my T she gave me a print out on OOBE's (out of body experiences).

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*A big Thank you to DF Member Hinmer for submitting this article to Forum Admin!

Homecoming stress of TA soldiers

Why do reservists serving in Iraq suffer double the levels of mental health problems of their regular comrades, as a government-commissioned report indicates?

Returning from a combat zone to civilian life can be a daunting experience for reservists, not least because it is difficult to share their experience with family and friends.

Professor Matthew Hotopf, who led the King's College study, said employers might be "pretty fed up" with them and partners and spouses too, might be less than sympathetic.

He said: "Veterans tend to say, 'People don't understand what we've been through,' - that's a very common kind of experience post-deployment and I think that applies much more to reservists than to regulars."

I developed quite bad post-traumatic stress and that wasn't actually diagnosed...until 12 to 14 months after the event

Scott Garthley, former reservist

Reservists experienced double the regular rate of problems such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression, said Prof Hotopf.

This can be exacerbated by this lack of understanding from those they left behind.

He thought it could also be because of the context of their deployment rather than anything that happened while they were in Iraq.

He said: "The way reservists deploy is very different. If you are a regular, you are with your own unit, you are a professional soldier or other service personnel, whereas for the reservists it's a different story.

"You're in a civilian job, you've got your family at home who may not understand the role you're going to take up.

"You may deploy in a way in which you don't know necessarily what's going to happen, you don't know the folks who are out there very well. Most people told us that they felt accepted but that wasn't always the story.

"And then they come back and they've had this extraordinary situation of being deployed and it's difficult to adapt."

Another problem is that while they are on deployment reservists have access to the same mental health support services as other soldiers, but once they return home they leave the care of the specialist Defence Medical Services and are looked after by the NHS.

Commodore Toby Elliot from Combat Stress - a charity set up to help ex-servicemen deal with mental health problems - said this puts many reservists in a difficult position.

He told BBC News: "Even if they seek help with the NHS they find they're not being understood.

There is no doubt that going into an operational conflict is a stressful experience for anyone

Surgeon Commodore Lionel Jarvis

"It's very important that as soon as a soldier feels he's having some form of psychological problem and seeks help, he is actually helped by someone who understands what this is all about.

"That's the best chance of getting better. If he doesn't get that help then he'll end up on our books, severely traumatised, his condition chronic, and it's extremely difficult to get him back on the road to recovery."

Former reservist Scott Garthley was injured while on duty in Iraq with 3 Military Intelligence Battalion.

He told BBC News he was not given fast enough access to medical help and felt "badly treated" by the Ministry of Defence on two fronts - physically, with possible delays in operations being carried out, and psychologically.

"I developed quite bad post-traumatic stress and that wasn't actually diagnosed and treatment started until 12 to 14 months after the event," he said.

Services extended

He went on: "If we're doing the same job you would expect the same support and in fact given the differences - ie that we go back to civilian employment - I would actually expect that some of that actually needs to be more thorough."

Surgeon Commodore Lionel Jarvis, director of medical policy for the Defence Medical Services (DMS), said reservists had less peer support than regulars.

He said: "There is no doubt that going into an operational conflict is a stressful experience for anyone, emotionally and sometimes physically.

"For those reserves who come out of a civilian occupation into a fairly challenging operational environment and then return to an environment where their friends and colleagues and workmates are, are not able to share their experiences."

DMS is now planning to extend its mental health services to returning reservists.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Also see US Article: National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/4985618.stm

Published: 2006/05/16 10:11:03 GMT

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Unquiet, do you mean like a dissociative like experience when you say out of body? I ask because I caught myself leaving my body as I was driving this summer and thought it was dissociative "but" when I mentioned it to my T she gave me a print out on OOBE's (out of body experiences).
Epic, I suffer from a Dissociative Condition as a result of PTSD and have been in therapy for many years, seeing a specialist. I am very surprised that your therapist gave you a print out of OOBE. I once thought I was spiritually enlightened when "out of body". It was all the rage in the 80's. Shirley Maclaine wrote a book about her personal experiece with OOBE in "Out on a Limb". She professed that it was a spiritual experience. Many people thought she was wacky. Despite, reading this book fueled my belief that I was highly, spiritually evolved. I didn't want to give up this belief and fought it in therapy. But I, now, know that it had to do with "Depersonalization". Where there is a sense of being detached from ones self and that this is a result mostly of early on trauma. I used float and view my surroundings from an arial point of view. It provided a great sense of relief, peace. I felt gifted to escape that which was disturbing. A numbing feeling. Most therapists go to great lengths trying to get their patients to accept this kind of dissociation as a result of trauma so they can work, theraputically, from there. It sounds like she's encouraging a belief which was once a pedestrian fad. If I may, I might suggest getting another point of view from another therapist and/or look into Depersonalization yourself and see how much you identify with the condition. It also very frightening and dangerous to Depersonalize in this way while driving! Beginning work to understand this condition and moving on in a way which will ultimately make your life easier sounds like the way to go to me. First, you might have to prepare yourself to "feel" pain which you have most likely supressed. Apart from therapy, continuing posting here would be a wonderful way of working in tandum with a therapist versed in the clinical not the etherial. I'm discovering how theraputic this site is. A wonderful place. A friend here recommended it and already I've found how helpful the feedback is. Lots of love going on....and mine to you, Epic!

:hearts: Moodbeam

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I have a diagnosis of complex ptsd, major depression and panic, feeling disconnected from the world around me is a norm i wish i never knew, and with the coming holidays it will just get worse

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I have a diagnosis of complex ptsd, major depression and panic, feeling disconnected from the world around me is a norm i wish i never knew, and with the coming holidays it will just get worse

I have found that with a lot of therapy, self-examination, faith and whatever else you can find that it is possible to dig out from under the dissociative/depersonalizing episodes eventually, although I can't do it as often as I like it has become possible and as with Moonbeam's statement from 2009, I have came to understand exactly what she meant. It feels so good to be in reality...reality was always a fearful place for me until therapy helped me get a grip on my personal demons. Fear itself can be a terrible taskmaster driving us away from living life, I know, I've been there for 40 years + until about 3-4 years ago. I attribute my release from that hell, to my strong belief in God and many many years of really intense excellent therapy.

Meeting the fear that causes this head-on is the hardest part and can also be the most confusing part in my experience because the fear itself really didn't amount to anything monumental as I thought it to be. I found out it is easier to confess exactly what it is, no matter how "bad", embarrassing, shameful, etc you may feel it is (this goes for anyone) what exactly your fears AND shame is. 9 times out of 10 when we keep our fears, shame and guilt bound up inside us we never can be truly free from it. When we confront it by expressing it to people we "know" we can confide in safely it loses it's power over time and becomes easier for us to back off and get a better look at our demons. My demons used to be these huge, scary, gonna eat my face off, spike me like a football and gut me like a fish demons until I finally confessed my shame, guilt and fear to ppl I trusted completely. Now they are more like fleas with bad teeth.

God Bless you guys.

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Sometimes I think that I suffer from a sort of version of PTSD related to losing my baby 3 years ago. It's something that I just can't seem to reconcile with.

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Sometimes I think that I suffer from a sort of version of PTSD related to losing my baby 3 years ago. It's something that I just can't seem to reconcile with.

Hello Calicat,

I'm so very sorry for your loss. I know how devastated you must feel. I've suffered numerous miscarriages over the years, but your loss seems even worse. Oh, Calicat. :hugs:

I think you may very well be suffering PTSD related to that loss. Losing a baby is very traumatic, and not easy to reconcile with.

Have you seen a therapist? What about a med doc? Any meds? Do you have anyone you can talk to about this, someone to share your feelings with?

Keeping talking here, Calicat. Talking helps. You have all of our support.

:icon12:

~Bean

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Non-Soldiers Suffer Post-Traumatic Stress

August 15, 2005

GLENVILLE, N.Y. (AP) -- For hundreds of thousands of Americans, mental illness is just a drive down the road. Ask Beth Puglisi. The 45-year-old mother was out to fill her gas tank on a bitter-cold January day last year. She turned the wheel of her pickup, felt a wrenching jolt, and watched the roadway fly into a spin.

"No!" she heard herself screech. The rubbery aroma of spilled antifreeze filled her nostrils.

In the days after her crash with a car, she took to the couch, weeping -- but not over her fractured vertebra and dislocated shoulder. Her mind was staggering.

"It felt like a death," she says.

Her body was quickly tended, but it took months before doctors even put a name to her other injury: post-traumatic stress disorder.

Once associated mainly with the horror of combat, PTSD has stretched to take in more frequent swerves along life's road -- car crashes, house fires, a sudden death or severe family illness, witnessing a disaster, or even learning of one. PTSD has broadened the model of mental illness to cover disturbances set off solely by external events, outside of the mind. Almost anyone can be vulnerable.

Research suggests the disorder is now present in 5 percent of Americans, or more than 13 million, according to the PTSD Alliance, which unites professionals and advocates. It is expected to touch 8 percent of adults during their lives. By contrast, just over 3 percent of Americans have cancer.

Puglisi had been in accidents before, but she never felt this way.

She couldn't stop picking over this crash in her mind. It wasn't her fault; it just wasn't. So why did it have to happen? Why?

Her family encouraged her to talk: "Each time I would tell someone about it, I could feel it and smell it -- the whole thing." In a kind of flashback typical of PTSD, she could still smell the antifreeze.

As PTSD's debilitating anxiety took hold, Puglisi started to feel nervous, flushed, even lightheaded when she was driven to a doctor or physical therapist. She would tremble, and her chest would tighten: "Just thinking about it was making me crazy."

When she tried driving again, she'd have to circle around to avoid making the same kind of turn as in the crash. She'd bypass where it happened. Ashamed, she asked her husband to drive the children to their activities.

While television droned war news from Iraq, she felt trapped in her own combat zone: "When you're in the war, you have no idea if you're going to be alive or dead in 10 minutes. That's exactly the way I felt."

Warring soldiers have carried home psychological scars for centuries. The ancient Greeks noticed it.

In American wars, it has been called shell shock, combat fatigue and post-Vietnam syndrome. Though skeptics discounted some cases as shams meant to win compensation, other extreme cases were taken for schizophrenia.

Medical authorities first accepted PTSD as a distinct psychiatric condition in 1980 at the urging of Vietnam veterans and their medical caretakers.

In PTSD, stress hormones like adrenaline scorch a painful event deep into long-term memory, scientists believe. Lab studies show such hormones normally improve memory in animals. They seem to overshoot the mark in PTSD.

People get very edgy and fearful, prone to nightmares or flashbacks. They desperately want to avoid reminders of their shock, even to the point of feeling numb. PTSD happens more often in women, in cases of multiple traumas (Puglisi had another road accident just a couple weeks earlier), and in people with depression.

Once defined, the disease was soon embraced, and insurance coverage expanded. Here was a psychiatric condition touched off by concrete events, not something hidden in the mind's dim recesses. It could theoretically happen to anyone, even the hardiest and soundest of mind. It wasn't your fault.

The federal government established the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It began researching PTSD and treating hundreds of thousands of veterans. Survivors from rape and car crashes began to seek therapy in greater numbers too. In 1994, the sudden death of a relative, or even learning that one was hurt, joined the expanding list of PTSD traumas in the chief diagnostic manual for psychiatry.

By the late 1990s, when Dr. Greenbrier Almond was working as a psychiatrist at a West Virginia veterans hospital, PTSD was already its leading diagnosis, above heart disease and diabetes, he says.

Over the past five years, the number of cases among veterans -- mostly from combat -- has exploded nationally by almost 80 percent to 215,871 last year, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is the agency's fastest-growing disability.

No similar statistics are collected for civilians, but the numbers are clearly substantial. Dr. Almond, who has left the veterans hospital, now treats PTSD in abused children at a community health clinic. Research at Henry Ford Health System, Harvard and Georgia State has identified the two leading causes of PTSD as unexpected deaths of relatives and car crashes. Combat ranks far down on the list.

Some bad diagnosticians and purveyors of pop culture have come to consider just about any of life's shocks -- divorcing, losing a job, even failing a test -- as triggers for PTSD. Though veterans officials say rising awareness has driven most of their growth, they are also reviewing whether some cases have been diagnosed too readily.

"Anything that happens to you that's remotely icky now qualifies," says psychologist J. Gayle Beck, at the University at Buffalo-State University of New York. "It's been culturally overdiagnosed."

This psychiatric illness has carried cultural baggage since its birth in the social turmoil over the Vietnam War. The new disorder tied to external events meshed with a Kafkaesque view of society inherited from the 1960s: Outside forces constantly threaten peace of mind.

Since 2001, PTSD has tapped into another source of anxiety: terrorists who can inflict mass death in an instant. A survey found highly elevated rates of PTSD in the New York metropolitan area, where the smoking towers of the World Trade Center could be seen for miles.

Afterward, some companies sent reassuring notices to workers listing PTSD symptoms and saying they were common responses. One compared them to a minor flu.

"It speaks to dangerous times and threats, and that certainly defines our era," says Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a Harvard University psychiatrist who helped define PTSD as a condition. "There is bound to be widespread PTSD and an awareness of it."

Even so, many people with PTSD still do not come forward for help, caregivers say. And even experts may miss the signs.

"My father dropped dead in front of my mother. She developed PTSD for two years, and I was completely unaware of it. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know it was PTSD," says psychologist Terence Keane.

Yet he is director of behavioral science at the federal PTSD center.

The good news is this: Even untreated, PTSD goes away in about half of the cases within six months, research indicates.

The bad news: When it doesn't, it can last for decades.

Puglisi had never needed therapy before and didn't think of treating her embarrassing automotive anxiety.

"I would say I'm all right," she recalls. But she wasn't.

Her doctor told her she'd soon get over it, but her physical therapists knew better. After several months, they persuaded her to look for help.

She found Edward Hickling, a former veterans psychologist who now specializes in road-accident PTSD.

"I came to private practice, and I saw motor-vehicle accident victims that looked a lot like ... the post-traumatic stress responses I saw in the veterans hospital," says the therapist based in nearby Albany.

Like many PTSD therapists, he relies on cognitive behavioral therapy. A common psychological treatment, it teaches how to replace negative mental monologues ("I could die on the way to work") with positive, rational ones ("I'll probably get there just fine, as usual"). It can be carried out one-on-one or in groups.

Like many PTSD therapists, Hickling re-exposes participants to memories of the terrifying situation, while desensitizing them over a few months or longer. They start by telling what happened and graduate to driving back to the crash site.

One woman was able to drive back and gaze at the place where her car plunged down a hill, trapping her for more than two hours. Later, she felt as though she had "removed a cloud from her brain," according to Hickling.

The therapy can work in up to 75 percent of road-accident survivors with chronic PTSD, research suggests.

Some patients, though, can't tolerate thoughts of their ordeal. "It's just too painful," says psychologist Charles Figley, at Florida State University. Lesser symptoms persist in many people.

Psychiatrists often treat PTSD with drugs. The federal government has approved two depression medicines, Zoloft and Paxil, for PTSD. Research suggests they help at least a quarter of PTSD patients.

Other researchers are experimenting with potential PTSD drugs like anti-adrenaline agents and the antibiotic D-cycloserine. In theory, they might disrupt the consolidation of long-term PTSD memories or help the brain forget them later.

Psychological therapy alone conquered Puglisi's symptoms, though it took a year.

She still hasn't gone back to work but doesn't feel so alone. Now she knows of many others like her: "The mind does this sometimes."

What happened to her, she has learned, is normal.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

i have ptsd too ,due to my dads death when i was a teeneger

, it was so traumatic toat i supressed all memory of the funeral and supressed all other aspects of my life for the following

2 yrs - that was when i was 16 i am now 49-i too thought it was not normal as others have

i now know better

dyas62

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I am quite sure I had/have PTSD. I was subjected to a very bad marriage of my parents as a child that was terribly abusive, and I was abused as well.

It doesn't have to be a one time very traumatic experience, such as soldiers experience. It can also be brought about by prolonged exposure to continuous stress and abuse.

I live in an atmosphere of extreme disquiet and stress from childhood through adolescence to young adulthood. Every single day was a stressful day of dealing with extremely abusive behavior. Add to that, I got raped several times in my teen years.

By the time I was 19 I was a complete wreck of a person. I had the symptoms of PTSD, nightmares, re-living, trying to avoid places, situations, things, that might trigger the memories. These feelings continued well into my 30's. And I still have bad memories.

One thing that helped was that many years later, in my 40's, actually going back to my house to help my dying mother. I had to be in the house, I had to be in the neighborhood, I had to see some of the people. But this time it was different. This time my father was dead, my mother was dying, and the situation was no longer the same. I think it was healing for me to actually go back to those places and just be there, but under different circumstances. I faced those things. I found some release in that.

Just wanted to share.

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I grew up in a household with a schizoprhenic mother and an abusive father. I have tried to sort out the exact events in therapy that caused my ptsd. I think that there were so many, and from such an early age that, I have never been able to correct the somatic response locked in my body. my father passed from cancer, and on his death bed told me that I was like a rotten tree in his life, and my mother died sometime in the last couple of years. I do not know when she did, but i got the certificate of her death in the mail. i have such guilt over this. its just that after years of being in touch with her, i finally reached the point in which i could not justify contact with my abuser any more. ( hers was the worst, because it was of a verbal nature....) I tried to end my life when i was 10 because i could not see living in the hell that was my life every day. My point, other than whining, is that it is possible to become a relatively healthy member of society with med and therapy, although I find that after 20 years of therapy, it is mostly redundant. One can only change ones programing so much.... I started to have anxiety attacks last year at work in response to stressors there around an abusive bully, but overcame that mostly. I understand this as a typical ptsd symptom, although it did not show up until i was in my 50's. life is short. and wonderful. and it is so hard to walk with these wounds and not feel guilty about being a victim. how does one resolve that one was a victim of horrible things, and yet still find the joy in everyday things? it is a tricky equation. some days i get it, some days i dont.

limited time left, so i'll keep up the stuggle. thanks for being here everyone

sf

Edited by Spiritual_Wanderer
Terms of Service

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Wow. I'm really sorry you had such a rough childhood/abusive parents. It really bothers me to hear about children suffering. I can definitely see how that would spill into your life for many many years. It's touching and inspiring that you still search for and sometimes find the joy in everyday life. I have been struggling with finding my joy in life again.

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Blkirsh1, I understand how you feel. I have PTSD from the same type of parental abuse. All throughout my childhood I was subjected to constant abuse, my father being alcoholic, and a really bad one, and my mother being a bitter and verbally violent person. She directed her misplaced anger towards me. Her words were so venomous, and they are things you can never forget, words are so damaging. It was the relentlessness of it all that caused the PTSD. It just never stopped. By the time I was nineteen I was a complete wreck of a human being.

I have struggled my whole life to deal with this. I am a functioning member of society in that I don't think I'm abusive, criminal or mean. If anything I am a more compassionate person than most. I too also find it hard to find joy.

I just the other day had a pdoc comment that I have been in survival mode my entire life.

Just saying this to say, you are not alone in what you feel.

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OnMeds, thanks very much. I am sorry you went through this. I understand the survival mode. Just last year I began to have panic attacks, which i never had before. My new meds are helping greatly, and for that i am grateful.

These wounds do make us more compassionate. the shame based personality which i am due to this abuse is my biggest struggle. My heart goes out to you and all that suffered under what were supossed to be our advocates and protectors. Hang in

blkirsh1

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I was diagnosed with PTSD about 3 years ago and mine is also caused by a traumatic childhood. I have a question though. Is it possible to have flashbacks in dreams? I have dreams that relive some of the emotional and mental abuse I had to deal with in my life and I wake up depressed and/or angry or crying. It always seems to happen when I nap in the daytime more than in my dreams at night. Has anyone else ever experienced this?

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NH321, I think it is definitely possible to relive trauma in dreams. I've had this happen to me in more than one way...

I too have ptsd from events early in my childhood (and also other events in my teens and adult life).

About 6 years or so ago I started having dreams about my childhood trauma. I had completely suppressed all memory of the events, for most of my life, and they started surfacing in my dreams. First they were very symbolic, and the more I worked through them with my therapist and got a little more comfortable with the feelings, they became more revealing and the identiity of my abuser was shown to me.

I have since recovered some memories of it while awake, but I still push them away and am not in a place of total acceptance. It's still too much for me I guess.

It's like my brain knew that I was not able to deal with a full blown memory so it was trying to show me things in pieces. If I were to have the full memory come back I do not think I could handle it and I think my brain knew that.

I have also had dreams about other events later in life and have woken up with feelings of extreme anxiety or sadness. I'm not sure if that is the same thing you're talking about but I do think that reliving trauma in dreams is pretty common for people with ptsd.

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I was diagnosed with PTSD last year after finding my Mom dead in our bathroom. She had COPD, but still did her normal daily things, shopping, taking care of our dogs, taking care of the house, etc... So it was still a huge devastating shock to me to find her gone when I came home. In my hysterics I picked her up and kept hugging her and pleading with her to come back. And I can't get that image out of my head, no matter what I do. I had to remodel the bathroom and replace the tub; thinking that would help, but it hasn't. I still see her every time I walk into my bathroom. People ask me how I'm doing and I try to fake it and tell them I'm ok, but inside I'm dying. I feel like my whole world has crashed and I won't be old self ever again. This has been going on for over a year now and I can't shake it.

I saw a therapist a few times, but I didn't feel like it was doing any good; I go to psychatrist for my meds, but I think they only work half the time. I feel like I'm a burden to the few people I have in my life, the only family I have left is my husband who is the least supportive person I've ever met. So I'm pretty much going at all this alone. The friends I did have were my co-workers, but when I took a leave from work to deal with my PTSD, MDD and anxiety I lost my job. I just don't see where my life or anything in it will ever get better.

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@ FallnAngel: I am so sorry to hear that. I couldn't even imagine walking into such a devastating situation. I wish you the best in finding a way to cope with the trauma that must have caused.

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Hello,

I'm new to the forum. I was diagnosed with PTSD five years ago after an emergency consultation with a psychiatrist after a suicide attempt. I only saw her once, I refused to see her again, partly because she was very airy and looked like a barbie doll & also in light of the "therapists" I had seen before. I started having panic attacks at 14 but when I think back I think they started younger than that, but I didn't have the consciousness to understand them. I left school at 14 at my 7th school (my family moved around a lot) due to being terribly bullied at this school (was never bullied before) and the school was keen to have me back and sent a psychiatrist to see me. The psychiatrist proceeded to call me weak and pathetic and spoilt. I quite rightly (I was tough) told her to F*** off and get out of my bedroom. She told my parents I was difficult. Long story short my dad took the school to tribunal for placing me with outcast an bullied kids initially and failing to protect us and had six teachers fired. After that, I was raped. I was a virgin and never attractive to boys as I was 37kgs and 5"10 and just didn't fathom that people would think of me that way (naive). I was/am the youngest of two brothers and a bit of a tomboy and wrongly thought it was about attraction. I was walking home from a party at 16 when it happened. I have still blanked most of it out, people say you should try and remember but I don't want to. As horrific as it was, bruises, bite marks etc... I never told a soul for four years. Then it began to slip out when I was drinking, which became more frequent. I then started to dabble with drugs which made my panic attacks worse, so bad that i was agoraphobic at 19 unless I was drinking. My parents either thought i was being dramatic or a teenage girl which they hadn't experienced before. In any rate, I was diagnosed with panic disorder (without telling them about the rape) and assigned to a street counsellor that proceeded to tell me I was too pretty and middle class to have problems. Neither of which are true, I never had any money my parents just happened to buy and do up a dilapidated house before the boom and everyone then presumed we were rich. So I stopped any form of counselling and as much as my friends would have been nice to talk to, they were too immature to cope and have the conversation/offer the support I needed. I then left this place, moved across the world as far away as possible, by myself knowing no one at 21 and then my family splintered. I stopped taking anti depressants cold turkey (after having a terribly irrational experience with aropax for a year) after three years on citalopram and had a nervous breakdown. An hours sleep a night for 11 days and no food, yet the drs say there is no withdrawal for the amount I was on. In essence, I'm ok. The flash backs, night terrors have stopped (only very rarely do i have them) I'm still hypervigilant and terribly anxious which impacts my life and what I have done with it which in turn makes me depressed. My major concern at the moment is the fact I'm in a long term relationship I'm not happy in (he doesn't allow me talk about anything dark/deep in his words which makes me feel isolated) and I don't know how/whether this will result me in being by myself and essentially wallowing with my thoughts. On the plus side I'm six years medication free. Still like a freak though, sorry if I've bored you or was not supposed to post this all here, just had to get it out.

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I was told by one kind intern to watch out for PTSD while I was in the hospital. She told me that facing death can cause it's own form of PTSD. It's funny because my anxiety and stress lead to my lowered immune system and sent me to the hospital. I was sick for nearly a month before finally going into the hospital and I often have flashbacks. A certain smell or just a word can make me tailspin. The flashbacks are sometimes too much to stand.The hospital gave me xanax and I think that helps with the anxiety I suffer. I have moments where I am talking to you and listening but I am not there. I have checked out. I feel like I am floating away and I need someone to tug on my string and pull me back.

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I was diagnosed with PTSD earlier this year, although I've had it most of my life. From molestation by a friend's father, to sexual assault as a teen and date rape as an adult, I've had my fair share of experiences which add up to PTSD. My symptoms are so enmeshed in my experience throughout my life (I am now 40) that it is quite a long road to unravelling what is PTSD and what is me.

I've been in ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) since this past spring, and am slowly making progress. ACT is tough, it's a new form of therapy, but if you keep at it and commit to it, it does make a difference.

With PTSD, I never really knew who I was. With the abuse I've suffered in my life, I was accustomed to other people defining who I was and what was right and wrong. This meant easy picking for abusive types who could see me a mile away and usually knew how to get what they wanted from me, which just perpetuated the PTSD.

Now that I've learned to diffuse and distance myself somewhat from the flashbacks, anxiety attacks, and shameful feelings, I have been able to form values, have begun to self validate, make better choices for myself, and make some progress. I'm not healed from PTSD and may never be, but each small step is still a step forward. Quality of life is more important to me now than money (I had a high pay career before disability), pleasing others at my own expense, and keeping up with the Jones'.

I also have chronic Depression with psychosis when at its worst, Seasonal Affective Disorder (I live up in the northern hemisphere where there is only 6 hours of sunlight in mid winter), as well as diagnosis of GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder).

Take your pick, mental illness is comfortable here. However, I still believe in me, and know I'm a good person. PTSD has in the past taken that sense away from me, but it's losing that fight now.

To all of you with PTSD, hang in there. We can and will make it through this and find quality of life once again.

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Blkirsh1, thanks so much for sharing your story. My story is remarkably similar, from childhood experiences to workplace bullying (which is over and done with finally). My last therapist 'diagnosed' me with PTSD a a result of the constant threat of death that came with my childhood. I had a hard time accepting this as even in my 30s I had refused to consider that my upbringing wasn't 'ordinary'. The thing I find hardest to deal with us the constant overwhelming guilt I feel (even though its not warranted) and constant grieving for the parental relationships I never had. Even as an adult I still feel to blame for this.

Anyway, thank you for sharing, I truly thought I was alone in this way.

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Hi, I am new here and this is my second post. Over the past several weeks, I have been writing down everything that I was able to remember during the first part of my life as a child, just to see if I could pinpoint where things began to spin out of control for me, what brought on my depression, what caused me to be so disfuntional, and this made me realize that I may have PTSD. These are my writings, and I'll be interested to see if any of you are old enough to remember any of these events, and if so, did any single one change who you are?

If we are the sum of our parts, both past and present then we all have PTSD in one form or another. In my lifetime, from a very young age, I had many stressors. I had an abusive mother at home, and when I went to elementary school I was taught to duck and cover. For those of you who don't know what that means, we had drills, at least once a week, where the bells would go off at school, and when that happened, we were to duck under our desks and cover our heads with our hands.

In the late fifties, we still had threats of possible bombings from other countries. As a child I knew what bombs were, but I didn't know why anyone would drop a bomb at my school, or in my small town. I would look at the sky and each time I heard a plane I would wonder if I would hear a bomb being dropped somewhere. Sometimes we were taken out of our classroom and lined up against the walls and told to get down to ground level and to put our head between our knees and cover our heads with our hands. We were also shown at which end of the school we were to go to get to our bomb shelters. That was a major stressor for me.

I also had a father who was a Navy man, he was in the Coral Sea Battle, and the Pearl Harbor Battle. He was a bombadeer and was aboard the USS Hornet. As a small child and throughout my formative years, I would wake up to him screaming, "Baker, Baker, we are taking on water, we are going down, Abort, Abort." At that time I wasn't fully aware of what was going on, but I knew that it had something to do with the need for us kids to duck and cover and learn where those bomb shelters were. His nightmares were waking nightmares for me until the age of 18 when I finally was able to leave my home, get married and make a home for myself.

At nine years old on November 22, 1963, Dallas, Texas, President John F Kennedy was assassinated and I was in school at the time. I can remember all learning ceased that day, and we all turned to the overhead TV's in our classrooms and watched the coverage live. We were let out of school early, and I came home to my parents crying and wringing their hands. I watched the entire thing played out in front of me, and John JR saluting his fathers casket, and I was very sad, and had a lump in the pit of my stomach knowing that he would never see his father alive again.

At 14 years old on April 4, 1968, Once again another assassination of Dr Martin Luther King, JR. This time I was at home when the news crossed the TV wires, and once again, the entire thing was televised and I watched it until I was finally sent to bed, to try to sleep and not think about the tragedy that I had just been witness to. And, once again the lump was in the pit of my stomach knowing that he also had family who would be mourning his loss.

Of course while these tragic events were happening, there was also the Vietnam War, 1959 -- April 30, 1975, and it wasn't until I got a tad older did I begin to understand, or attempt to understand why boys were being drafted to go over and fight. So, the good part of my teenage years I spent glued to the TV and wanting to do something to help stop a war that should never have been. I watched fighting and shooting and boys falling and bloodshed like I've never seen before. You talk about stressors. This was personal for me, I was 16 at the time, and 17, and then 18, and the war was still raging.

Then as if it all wasn't bad enough on May 4, 1970, when I was 16, the Kent State Shootings took place, the Ohio National Guard had fired upon the unarmed students of Kent State. What I saw were students laying on the ground with blood streaming from the wounds and other students bending over them in tears. All over a war that should never have been. Now, I was in total turmoil, my head and heart were spinning and it felt as if I was out of control. The weight of the world had just fallen on top of me, and I didn't know whether to attempt to crawl out of it, or just lay down my life and die.

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I suffer from PTSD and traumatic grief. My Son died by suicide in 2008. I was the one to find him. Although I got him down and did CPR, he did not survive. He lived three days in the hospital before succumbing to anoxic brain injury. I used to relive the event over and over again in my head, the thoughts were pervasive and intrusive. I was hospitalized for suicidality in the second year and put on various anti-depressants as treatment. None really helped much. I suffered weight loss, loss of focus, memory problems, anxiety, flashbacks and many sleepless nights from nightmares or intrusive thoughts.

I have been unable to keep a job and have had six jobs since his death. Now I'm not even getting call backs for applications, as I'm certain my former employers are telling prospective ones to steer clear. :( All justified, as I was a complete mess after losing him.

It was so bad at times, that I would leave myself notes about what I needed to do (example: Flash card on the dog food. One side says breakfast, the other, dinner. I would flip the card as I fed them, as I would not have a memory of doing so). I could not focus for very long on anything and would literally get lost in a town I've lived in for years. Driving was a very bad time for me, as the flashbacks were the most extreme at that time. Hell I couldn't even make a decent pan of coffee because I'd forget how many scoops I'd put in or how much water I'd put in the bin. It was awful!

As I approach the 5th anniversary of his death, I feel the anxiety coming on again. I am never quite prepared for the absolute hell I go through from October 8th thru Oct 19th (his b day). There are so many triggers, but I am doing better now than ever before with my PTSD. (He died 3 days shy of his 22nd birthday).

I participated in a grief study the other day and was sad to hear that I still score very high for PTSD. My Therapist had told me that she felt I had worked my way through it very well and that she didn't feel I was suffering very badly with it anymore. The score was a surprise.

I'm here presently as my daughter is suffering with bipolar disorder. Seeing her like this is very triggering for me, as I have already lost one child to suicide and am terrified of losing another.

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