What do you know about #PTSD?
Did you know, for instance, that you don't have to be ex-Forces to suffer it?
Most of us think of veteran flash-backs on hearing the loud words (((Post-traumatic stress disorder)))
But anyone who has experienced significant trauma (as a child or adult) can potentially suffer from PTSD. It's another form of anxiety.
The UK NHS website states:
"PTSD is estimated to affect about 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience, but it's not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not."
I'm no expert on this, it's something I explored when a counsellor recently suggested I might have it myself. Following my Dad's death when I was six. Meaning I could've had it for over 40 years.
Which, for me, explains everything. I've been a puzzle who has found its final peace (sic).
As a writer, psychology graduate, obsessive analytical thinker, I could say a million things about this. I could start writing now and never stop. So, I must keep this short.
But, being a writer with a lifelong grotesque compulsion to share my innermost thoughts, I must also let a bit out. So, I'll do so with informative snippets and the odd picture...
In my case, I always knew my Dad's death had had a massive effect on me. I knew I was suffering some sort of delayed-grieving, for instance, throughout my thirties and forties. But I didn't realise how far-reaching traumatic effects can be. They subconsciously swirl, just out of sight, year upon year upon year, subtly but steadfastly sculpting your life, like water eroding a riverbank.
That's what appears to have happened to me.
Despite studying psychology, and this very subject, I never saw it in the mirror. And I'm starting to realise why. People don't expect to have PTSD, for a start. Might not even know about it. Secondly, how do we know what's normal and what's not?
How do we know that others do not feel as weird as we do?
Most of us don't expose our bleakest parts, our darkest thoughts and fears, those ugly feelings or challenging dreams, even during drunken ramblings.
It's not very attractive, is it? Telling people, I mean, not my lovely picture, tut. Some things seem too embarrassing, or grim, to reveal, don't they?
After all, we can all be miserable and moany, but no one wants to win Gold for it.
So we keep it down and hope we aren't alone. (Even though we possibly are.)
My theory is, many of us only start digesting this mental hullabaloo on a bellyful of experience, from lifelong internalising and ponderings, through collecting pieces of the tattered jigsaw, and osmotically learning about ourselves and others.
That's how subtle this thing is. It's not always like a firework exploding in your face.
Some causes of PTSD:
The MIND website states:
"When something traumatic happens in your life it rocks you to the core. The world is no longer a safe place. It becomes somewhere that bad things can and do happen."
This explains the anxiety aspect. The constant fight or flight setting we're unknowingly stuck in. How can this not change us from the trauma point onwards?
I've collated a list of PTSD symptoms from a range of sources. I was stunned, on learning of this possible diagnosis for me, to find I have almost all these signs or else they manifest in my behaviours, thoughts, emotions. It appears my Dad's death may have shaped my personality, and my life, in almost every conceivable way.
Without me even knowing.
• Isolating oneself
Signs of post-childhood-trauma syndrome
• Being antisocial
• Pretending to be okay/happy
• Crying and meltdowns
• Over or undereating, lol
• Addiction issues
• Being emotionally distant / cold
• Feeling messed up
• Feeling lost
• Feeling numb
• Unable to focus
• Poor career record
• Ongoing need for reassurance
• Lack of self esteem
• Anger management issues
• Over or under-reacting to death
• Self destructive behaviours
• Feeling like you have to keep busy
• Unable to express affection
• Using drink/drugs to numb feelings
• Heightened stress response
• Higher blood cortisol levels
• Changeable moods
• Feelings of guilt
• Lack of childhood memories
• Adult attachment issues
• Proven increased physical illness, lol
I want to add something important before I go. You don't need to have been mistreated in childhood to suffer these kinds of effects. i.e. as in my case of losing a parent. From what I've read, it appears that sensitivity plays a part, that the sufferer may have less well developed coping strategies than the next person/child.
I had the best and most loving mother a child could ever wish for; a person who suffered her own trauma alongside myself and my siblings. I want her to realise she did everything right, that she is extraordinary and always will be.
Footnote: My personal way through darkness is to laugh in its face, and write about it, when able. So any poking fun I do is always only at myself... Or my siblings. Or my husband.