Thursday, December 09, 2004

PTSD

I've never posted on this before, mostly because I have struggled to get my head around such a thing - and, as you will read, it is hard for me to accept as being part of my life. For those of you not in the "know," (and thank God if you are not) PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is a psychological disorder brought on by a past traumatic experience. You can have flash-backs, both visual, audible, and emotional, from the experience based on triggers in your current life. You may not know what those triggers are, and you may have no warning. I am a psychology major, and as such, I have found there are two types of psychology mind-sets. Those who are sympathetic to every nuance of psychological distress, and those that are suspect of anything that is not "provable." I am sure you can guess which end of the spectrum I sit on. Because of this attitude, I find PTSD one of those grow-up-and-deal-with-it disorders. Until I got my butt kicked. A few months ago, a relatively "traumatic" situation arose in the life of a friend of mine. It did not directly affect me, however it sent me hurling into an emotional hole that I was breathless to explain. It triggered an episode of PTSD - a response from a traumatic occurence in my childhood that I thought I was well over. Anxiety attacks (I literally turned blue from my inability to gain oxygen), paranoia, hallucinations, etc. were suddenly upon me. Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis knows (well, you might not know in the flesh, but you have a pretty good idea) that I am pretty level-headed, logical, and stubborn. Nothing really shakes me, unless it ticks me off. Otherwise, I'm pretty even-tempered. In the roller-coaster ride of PTSD, I was a wreck, and terrified to be around people. I had no idea what might come out of my mouth, when an anxiety attack might occur, how I would react to anything.... Thankfully, my first experience lasted only a day or two. I didn't eat for several days after, but that had more to do with the stress the experience placed on my body, than PTSD itself. Eventually, I came out of it, as baffled as ever by the experience. I could not tell you why or how it happened, nor could I figure out how to prevent it. I sought professional opinions (for fear my brain had merely fallen out of my head - I needed directions on how to re-attach it) to no avail. Their answer? It will happen again, without notice, and you will just have to learn to get through it. Eventually, it will probably dissipate. Great, so now I'm a ticking time-bomb, just waiting to go off into emotional seizures. I know, you guys are used to us women being that way - I, however, am not a typical woman prone to flights of emotion. I had a similar experience last night - perfectly fine, if a bit stressed all evening, with an inexplicable attack around 9PM. It lifted around 6AM this morning, and now I feel back to my old self. Can't for the life of me explain to you what happened or why, but I am very happy to report it was a much shorter, less-severe duration. Why post on it? Because if anyone you know has experienced it, and you can't help rolling your eyes at it....believe me, I can relate. I never took it seriously, and certainly NEVER THOUGHT IT COULD HAPPEN TO ME. I'm too grounded to have such silly flights of brain jitters. It is serious though, and should be taken seriously. People in the midst of PTSD have little control over what they are doing. If you or someone you know suffer from this disorder, be sure to talk to a professional regarding coping strategies. You have to prepare them ahead of time, so you can call on them in the middle of your angst.