PTSD is often a life sentence

Dear Bloggers,

PTSD is often a life sentence
Where are the therapies, the support, the compassion for those dealing with trauma?

Victims suffering from post traumatic stress injuries are not only members of the police or armed forces. Victims can be anyone; man, woman or child. Most of them struggle every day with their trauma. Many women who have suffered rape and other forms of abuse, suffer further from treatment from the courts. Interestingly, they are said to have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while soldiers are said to have post traumatic stress injuries. 

Post traumatic stress disorder is a wrong name. It is an injury. Disorder suggests the victim is somehow responsible for not functioning normally. PTSD victims are frightened and powerless but not responsible for their injuries. Many (sexual) assault victims suffer from PTSD and seemingly insignificant incidents can trigger panic attacks and create difficulty in functioning. When someone with PTSD commits suicide it is because they can no longer cope with their injuries. Unable to receive satisfactory treatment they take the only way they see out of their suffering.

We like to make others believe that we treat everyone the same. We don't. In my own surroundings I did a bit of survey about 49 per cent said they would socialize with a person who they would call in their normal life a friend with a mental health issue. Only question is did all the respondents gave honest answers? About 51 per cent of people around us would avoid “friends” with PTSD.

Trying to have a normal loving relationship with any man is nearly impossible. Innocent of any wrong, they suffer for the rest of their lives. And even you have been together for many years they simply cannot trust you fully anymore.
People cannot gauge the victim's suffering. Even some doctors have difficulty dealing with patients with PTSD and only offer prescription drugs as a cure. Instead of being supportive, we compound their injuries.

Talking about the trauma may be an attempt by victims to heal, to be accepted back into society. They turn to friends and family for help, but all too often the emotional impact of the trauma isn't understood and victims retreat into their shell for self protection.

A simple incident, a voice, a word, a car, anything, can bring on flashbacks and trigger the victim into a panic. Days and nights are filled with nightmares, lack of sleep, sweats, and rage. The stigma attached to victims often prevents many from seeking help until it is too late and there is little or no chance of recovery.

Most serious is the risk of suicide. When every waking moment is spent feeling rejected and alone, in fear and exaggerated alertness, ready to run in an instant, thoughts turn to suicide as the only way to find peace. This is most of the times in the first phase of the traumatized person.
Unable to work, some eventually receive some social assistance, but it's seldom enough for them to live comfortably. Reduced to below-poverty existence and forgotten, these once-productive citizens become a troubled group in society.

Recently, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) a relatively new treatment has shown some promise. But where does a victim get this help? Only a few specialized psychologists and a couple of psychiatrists are registered with EMDR

Many victims, are losing their job and after two years of sick pay they will get unemployed and they are struggling to live on disability allowance. Instead of having a social life, they continue suffering, unable to contribute in any positive way to their own care, they depend on the care of their children or their families.

Where is the equal treatment for PTSD victims? Lucky us our insurance gives us kind of free health care? We cry out against human rights abuses in other countries but deprive our victims of their right to proper health care, to a life without fear, to security of their person? It's time we helped these innocent victims instead of adding to their abuse.
Traumatic life-threatening events often leave emotional scars, which, like physical scars, remain with an individual for the rest of their lives

I’m so tired of having PTSD…in fact I am so tired of forgetting for a moment that I have it only to have it come back and smack me in the face. That is what my wife tells me after a period of making a step back. I hate acknowledging it’s presence because then I have to accept that it is never going away and that's though as a spouse.

No matter how hard she tries, no matter how much work she does, PTSD will always be there. On some level I know it is about managing symptoms but tonight is a not to good one and I just wish it would go away.

She complained the other day to her therapist: I am so afraid of silly things and I am jumping at the slightest touch from my partner. I am not sleeping during the night and I am walking around the house. Either way if I sleep or walkabout, I wake up exhausted. I’m eating everything in sight that contains sugar and I am quickly rebuilding that wall that exists between me and the rest of the world. I want to return to old ways of coping…anything to feel comfortable in my skin. My partner is very patient but I am tired of him needing to be. I am tired of working so hard to do the right thing to only end up needing his help and support.

Luckily the racing thoughts are not back as full force as they once were and I am still able to outrun them by a bit. I am tired of living each day wondering is today the day I wont be able to manage the symptoms. Is today the day I have the meltdown that let’s the whole world know about my struggles with PTSD?

She does sometimes get to a point where life is good and she feels strong and in control of her symptoms. Today is not one of those days. I do understand that the PTSD is the result of managers abuse that I endured for 3 years. I also understand that the psychological abuse was not my fault. And in this case I could not see what was happening and even though I advised her to knock on some persons doors, none of them stopped the abuse as nobody did stop the psychological abuse he was such a “good guy” he had a free hand. What I don’t understand is why it came with a life sentence.

I think PTSD is different for everyone who experiences it. All the emotions that accompanied the original trauma were as fresh as the day you experience them. The worst part of PTSD for my wife are the nightmares, the hyper-vigilance, the adrenalin rush and the stress of always being focused on my surroundings. PTSD is, more than anything, an in-your-face realization of your own mortal nature and of the fragility of life itself. Headaches, fatigue, discomfort in places where there are large numbers of people (7-10 and up), fully hit by panic attacks, anxiety disorders, emotional numbing and inability to have close relationships can be a problem as well.

Typical phrase from my wife: "Therapy, re framing, EMDR, and a variety of techniques have worked well for me, but I admit, there are many days it is just a relief not to have to leave the house."

The Old Sailor,


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