I'm 38, almost 39. When I was 15 I was finger-raped on a first date at the drive in. When I got home, Dad saw the hickies, not the bruises on my throat. I was forced to call and "break up" and then sent to work the next day at a Golfers Banquet as punishment. I started drinking that night. Years went by and I did not know I had PTSD. I thought I was losing my mind, often, and wanted to escape from my own brain. I had no idea that angry men and confrontation were triggers. My parents could not figure out what was wrong with me and treated me like I was "emotionally fragile" for no reason. I would have unexplained, frantic freak-outs for years.
Then, my husband and I were in New Orleans when Katrina hit. We were trapped there for days and saw the worst - you can't even imagine. TV could not show it all. To make it short, there were confrontations with angry men that made me feel like I was going to die on the spot. I drank for a month when we got back just so I could close my eyes. I wrote a book and sent money back to help. I needed to do something. I did not go to a counselor at that time. I figured nobody knew what really happened and could not help me. This is much different from being a soldier coming back from war.
I was *dysfunctional*. It affected my work, my marriage, I've had kids since and thankfully they're too young to see how it might seep into my parenting. My brother's (long-standing) fight with me broke the straw and I went to a therapist. She immediately recognized the PTSD and we started EMDR therapy. It did work, but I still need to go back again. We hyper-focussed on specific things that happened in the past, and problems with my brother. But at a new job, aggression from a young man, having to confront it and the aftermath, sent me into a panic. Luckily I was at home when I got the emails. I need to go back for help. I can't live like this. Especially when my boys get older.
A small trigger is helicopters flying overhead. A big trigger is angry men, and another is confrontation, with anybody. Even women now. Deep inside me I know there's a very tough lady who can overcome this. I feel like there's a key that will open this lock.
But knowing has been better than not knowing. When my heart starts pounding, my hands start shaking, and I feel like I'm going to throw up. When I start breathing faster and feel like I'm going to be killed, frantic, pacing, crying or screaming, thinking of any way out of the situation... I know what it is and it will go away. I will be depressed for a few days and then it will lift. I don't want my kids to know about it, or see me like this.
I'm tired of dealing with it. I'm angry that it has effected me so deeply and changed so many things in my life without my knowing. I'm frustrated that it took this long to understand what was happening. I feel broken during a time in my life when I should be feeling stable and strong, with the wonderful life and family I have around me.
I want to cry out ENOUGH! I'm DONE being freaked out! I get it, I was scared, moving on now! If I could wash it off with bleach I would. I have looked for mental/emotional peace in so many places, and I know why I never found it. Now I can see the problem and I want to fix it. I can't live like this. People WILL get mad at me and vice versa, that's normal, and I need to get back to functioning. Other than going back to therapy, I don't know what else to do.
helicopters bother me too! i think it's great that you identify your triggers i did it for my addictions also make a list of what good came out of your trauma and what bad came out too ask yourself if your making the right steps to deal&cope with PTSD
Helicopters flew over every minute, the big, thumping, army kind. They went to get people off of their roofs and I held my breath with each one passing. At night, they were the only light source for the few seconds and then it was pitch black again. It was the only steady, repetitive thing in N.O. Maddening at times, comforting at others.
I made a "type" of list. I uh... wrote a book if that counts. LOL! I'm not sure what good things came out of it. I think going back to therapy is the next best step, but I think my big question is, what else can I do?
I sort of understand what your going through. I'm glad that you spoke about it...it helped me in my post :) I'm here for you if you need someone to talk to other than a therapist. Lol actually your situation doesn't seem that rare to me...I think you'd be surprised at the amount of people that were in the same or a similar situation as you. You never know unless you try, eh? I really hope that things get better for you. And I agree with drifter0213, writing a pros and cons list definatly helps.
What you have to do though is welcome those memories, not push them away. It's stuck in there like glue. The more you tap it down, the more it sticks there, and the more you let it go, the more free you'll be of it. Your mind is replaying that event because it is stuck there like glue. It's like a subconscience thing. You're mind still thinks that it's going on. I know, easier said than done. I'm trying it....it's slowly working for me.
We can wish it never happened but it did, and for a reason...I think my reason was to bring me closer to God, and my dad, and to realize that YOLO so I should enjoy life and not take it as seriously as I used to.
But I totally understand what you mean by getting angry at a memory, and people thinking you have anger managment problems, not wanting to do something that reminds you of the event, and people calling you boring, being scared and people calling you a whimp, and not trusting people while people distance themselves from you for that reason...
The biggest pro: U survived it all.
Some other pros: You have now gained enough experience, and have more sympathy i'm sure cause of ur experiences. U r now able to help others. That's a rather big pro. You will be protective of ur children which is also, a pretty good thing.
You can spend ur entire life looking at how those expiriences impacted u negatively, but it will drive u crazy. U have to see life from both perspectives. I know it's easier said then done. But u need to try. I'm still working on it. It takes longer for some than others.
If you ever need to talk, I'm here...I may be young, but I can help. I'm still someone who can listen to your problems and offer advice if u need it :)
Jazzmin_15, I never discredit young people until they give me reason to. When I was 16 I'd been through more than some adults and could have helped others more, too. The fact that you're here and contributing says a lot about your character. :)
Thank you for the pro list. It is very important that I remember these things, you're right.
In the wake of "Sandy" I was at the therapist's office yesterday, and she commented that some of my problem stems from what could be a severe lack of confidence, which would explain why I could not think of any pros. :P
It's just been since Katrina, and in these seven years my confidence has declined, especially when jobs were affected, my writing slowed down or stopped, and I doubted my every parenting move (which I know is common for "normal" people). I used to break up fights and be able to stand up to people, stand up for myself more, before New Orleans. Now I feel weary, unable, weak.
I bought Passion Flower and started taking it to calm my nerves/body. I don't want to go by the way of meds at this point. I half-joked with my therapist about hypnotherapy - has anyone tried it?
I just want to go back to normal, the tough B*@#%* I used to be. LOL! On the PLUS side, if building my confidence will help matters, it is something I CAN change and work on, so that's something to look forward to.
But how does one REALLY build confidence? I know the basics, be positive, dress nicely, eat and sleep well, smile...
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