Tuesday, November 13, 2007

PTSD and Me.....

PTSD is a relevant and high profile topic these days, and due to a fellow blogger sharing his experiences, I've decided to share my own. By no means am I attempting to equate my experience with that of a veteran of war, but PTSD is what it is, nonetheless. For my American friends, I understand that obtaining treatment for it is likely far more difficult than it is for us here in Canada.

I was diagnosed with PTSD in 1995. In my late teens I experienced physical and psychological trauma, much of which my family is unaware of, so therefore it would be inappropriate to discuss it here without first telling them. It's enough to say that it happened. Less than six months later I had an affair with a much older married man and became pregnant. I gave the child up for adoption and my father died within a four day period, and then over the next sixteen years I seemed to have bounced from one monumental screw up to another.

I put my family, particularly my mother and younger sister through my own special brand of hell: Bouts of depression, uncontrollable rage, irrational behavior, inability to sleep, self-doubt, shame, hopelessness, and more. That was my life.

I had my son in 1990, and being terrified of what I might be capable of doing to him, I was distant and guarded around him. I threw myself into my work to avoid dealing with my problems and in July, 1995 I crashed and burned. I just wanted it all to end. The pain, the anger, the fear, the confusion, the feeling that I was loosing what little was left of my mind; all of it. I then realized that I didn't want my little boy to bear the burden of his mother's suicide for the rest of his life, and chose to seek help. I went through drug therapy for a short time, but was dissatisfied with the result so, with the assistance of my doctor and much trial and error, I found something which worked for me.

I started my journey of recovery over 12 years ago, and have never looked back. I don't pretend that everything is sunshine and light. I know my triggers and recognize my warning signs, which occur less and less frequently, and have learned to cope with them appropriately and successfully. Everyone is different and our circumstances are just as varied, but the disorder is the same and each of us needs to seek out an effective way to treat it. PTSD isn't just a veterans issue, it can effect anyone. If you suspect that you may have it, don't ever be ashamed or deny it, and please seek help as it will never go away on it's own.

9 comments:

Spadoman said...

You are right. It is not just a Veterans issue. Many can have PTSD from trauma. In the Veteran, the cause is understood to some degree, as we hear about Veterans dealing with these issues. We don't often hear the reports of the reason for suicides and murders as to what made the person do it. The story stops when the trauma is reported, and in most cases, the traumatic event is not reported, just the result. And even the Veteran can have PTSD from things other than the war. These other experiences add to the burden.

Glad to hear you are on a healing path.

Peace to All

fjb said...

It's been a journey, that's for sure.

You asked me a while back if I loved myself, and you have no idea what a smile that brought to my face, 'cause I can honestly say, yes.

When you attend the ceremony, I hope you'll feel the weight lift off your shoulders and your heart. One more step on the road.

Marty said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I too am glad you have found the road to recovery. PTSD affects many people in different ways from different causes. Peace to you.

daniel said...

Indeed, your story is traumatic... but I wonder if "PTSD" isn't just a broader catch-phrase for issues that span a lot of different mental traumas. In my opinion, you will find something unique in each situation. Unique enough that four letters are insufficient to capture the impact. Nevertheless, I agree wholeheartedly that you need not serve in a war zone to experience trauma. After having spent two deployments in Iraq, I can attest that the most traumatic experiences in my life took place outside of those 573 days. If more people in my country were as introspective as you, I wonder if we'd have fewer violent crimes.

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fjb said...

daniel,
A catch-phrase, indeed.

no,
I think you're shaking your head here and being sarcastic, but to love one's self is to be capable of truly loving others.

Unless you learn to love yourself, particularly after experiencing severe trauma (we have a tendency to blame ourselves without even realizing it), you're pretty much doomed to a life of anger or rage, volatility, depression, blaming every one else for your problems, not taking responsibility, frustration, a lack of self-worth, and paranoia, among many other self-destructive behaviors. Have you experienced any of this?

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fjb said...

no,
No worries. It sounds like someone betrayed your trust, and that can hurt like hell. I hope you come to realize that this is his/her problem, not yours.

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