My PTSD Storyline

Growing up in a small town in upstate South Carolina, I was living the perfect southern dream when I found a handsome young man who fell head over heels for me.  It wasn’t long after I moved to Asheville, North Carolina that we decided to get married.  We knew we were young, but we were in love and life seemed like it was one long happy summer as we took our first steps into the world as adults together.

For 25 years we lived that dream together. We had two beautiful daughters and built successful businesses together. We had everything anyone could want – a big house, good friends, and a nice family. I still can’t believe how fast all of that changed.

As his parents got older and needed more help, I took on the role of a caregiver.  I would spend hours every day making sure that his mother and father were clean and fed and had their medicine. They had both been my parents for 25 years too!  I wanted to make sure his mother was comfortable and taken care of as she lay dying from a tumor in her brain.  That’s where my mind was. That’s how I was spending my days.  I had no idea that my husband had different ideas going through his mind.

This is where the story of my PTSD starts. In one night, I lost my entire world – my family, my friends, my home and everything I’d worked for. But worst of all, I lost my children.

Even now, when I think back to that night, it feels so surreal. When he came home for dinner that evening, I wasn’t greeted with a kiss or warm conversation.  No.  Instead, I was pulled from my home and shoved into the back of a police cruiser.  My husband, the man I had loved and supported for most of my life, had turned on me.  He told the police that I was crazy, that I was abusive, that I was a danger.  And so they took me to a hospital to be evaluated.

Of course, I was released – there was nothing wrong with me.  But by that time my husband had already put his plan into action.  He had filed a restraining order, preventing me from seeing him or my children, from going to any of my businesses I had helped build, and from getting my personal belongings.  I was homeless, penniless, on the street, and I had no one to turn to.  Shortly after the separation, he moved a new woman into my home and they were engaged. As soon as the divorce was final, he married her.  I was left with nothing but the shirt on my back.

My reputation was ruined too. He told everyone that I was a raging alcoholic.  For over two years now, I have been screened twice a week for alcohol use – and I’ve passed every single test.  But how can I tell people that when I have been banned from my own community?

It’s now been over two years since my life was taken from me. Over two years, and I still haven’t been able to defend myself in court.  In the months that followed that horrible night, I knew something wasn’t right.  I could never shake the constant anxiety and depression. Finally, it was the nightmares that forced me to get help.  I would wake up at the same time every night, screaming in terror as I relived the ordeal of being taken away in a police car. It was just too much.

When I saw the doctor, he diagnosed me with PTSD from the trauma of my husband’s manipulative and abusive behavior. It’s been a terrible journey, but I really feel that I could handle it if I could just see my children.

I refuse to give up.  I know that my story is terrible. I also know I’m not the only one out there suffering from trauma and PTSD.  The only way we will get through this is to stand together. So now, I want to give back and help others get through their suffering.

I am a fighter. I am a warrior. And I will not be defeated.  I offer this blog as a resource and a community for others who are struggling each and every day with PTSD and trauma.  Together we will overcome!

PTSD in Children and Teens

We talk about PTSD in adult quite frequently in this blog, but adults aren’t the only ones who can suffer. Children and teens can develop PTSD after a traumatic event too, but they might show different symptoms.

 

So how can you tell if your child has PTSD? There are various signs to look out for.

 

If your child is between 5 and 12 years old, you might notice them behaving differently. They might start reenacting the event through play. For example, if they witnessed a shooting, they might be drawn more to shooting games. They might also start avoiding certain things if they see a pattern of events. This because the child thinks that they can predict when another bad thing is about to happen, based on things that happened before the traumatic event.

 

If your child is between the age of 12 and 18, they might begin acting impulsively and aggressively. You might think this is typical teenage behavior, but don’t be fooled. The older they are, the more similar their symptoms will be to those of adults with PTSD, but don’t overlook their impulsivity and more aggressive behaviors.

 

If the family has gone through trauma, it’s always a good idea to get the entire family into therapy. If you know or even think your child has gone through some trauma, it’s always best to get them into therapy too, even if you’re unsure of what caused their odd behavior. It’s important to catch PTSD early on in childhood and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Dealing with Trauma Anniversaries

Valentine’s Day was just this past week, and while this day was filled with love and romance for many, it was filled with heartache and suffering for others. Valentine’s Day, just like any holiday or anniversary, can be a hard thing to go through, especially if you have PTSD.

 

Anniversaries are usually seen as a positive thing, something you look forward to and plan for. You celebrate the anniversary of your relationship or wedding, and even birthdays. But some anniversaries aren’t quite so cheery. It can be difficult when you lose a loved one, break off a serious relationship, or experience any sort of traumatic event, and PTSD can be the result of these things. The event itself can be hard enough, but when the anniversary date for it rolls around, you might find yourself experiencing the struggle all over again.

 

Oftentimes, the anniversary of the traumatic event can cause your PTSD to really flare up. Depression, guilt, and shame might begin to set in as you think about the event. Triggers that you thought you had overcome now take hold of you once again, and you begin to experience flashbacks and panic attacks.

 

If it’s been long enough since the traumatic event, you’ll begin to notice these anniversary patterns and you might start avoiding certain places, people, and any other triggers related to the event. Before the anniversary even arrives, you might feel nervous and on edge as you dread the upcoming day.

 

Anniversaries of traumatic events are definitely no fun so it might help to be prepared for when the day comes. The right way to approach the trauma-related anniversary truly depends on the person and what the trauma is. For some, they feel closure and relief by doing something in honor of the event. This could be visiting the grave of someone they lost, donating or volunteering to help disaster relief, or simply taking a few moments of silence.

 

For others, like rape victims, for example, the best thing to do is avoid thinking about the event and try to completely distract themselves. This is where planning ahead is really important. Maybe plan for a fun day with family or friends, spend the day out in town, go to a movie, or do anything that you know will keep your mind busy.

 

If you’re unsure of how to handle the upcoming dreaded day, then talk to your therapist. They are trained to know how to handle these situations, and, being your therapist, they should know what way of coping should work best for you. Your therapist is there to help you in any way that they can.

 

The anniversary date of your traumatic event might feel like it lasts forever, but that day will soon pass too. Sometimes though, the feelings that arise from the anniversary can last up to a few weeks, and that’s okay. Take all the time you need to process and cope with the event, and know that it does get better from here on out. Healing from PTSD is possible.

 

Overcoming Avoidance

In a previous blog, we talked about avoidance as a symptom of PTSD. It’s an easy go-to for coping with the trauma that you had to face. While there are times where using avoidance maneuvers can actually be a good thing, it’s no longer a good thing when you do it all the time.

 

Avoidance has its time and place but it’s important to know when and where you should use it in your daily life. Sometimes, you need to think about other things and distract yourself when you’re out in public, hanging out with friends and family, or doing work. This way, you can be in the moment without your trauma getting in the way. But the thoughts and emotions that arise throughout the day will still eventually need to be dealt with.

 

When a time comes where you can actually parse out those things, you might find yourself no longer wanting to. After all, if you could shove all those annoying thoughts and feelings aside before, why not do the same now? But continuing to avoid what’s inside of you will lead to it all building up and coming out later in much more unhealthy ways.

 

Sometimes you just need to let everything out, whether that’s talking and venting to a friend, family member, or your therapist. Those boxes in your mind that you closed up earlier in the day or week are going to have to be gone through at some point. You need an outlet so that you can use avoidance in a healthy way and still be able to overcome your trauma.

Edna Foa – a Huge Influencer on the Treatment of PTSD

When you think of who would be the most influential in this world, who do you think of? Maybe it’s one of the presidents, a celebrity, or even a well-known scientist. Time Magazine has composed a list of the Top 100 Influential people in the world, and while it does include those kinds of people, it also has one name that you might not expect. Her name is Edna Foa.

 

Edna Foa, MD, is a huge influence in the world of mental health and PTSD, and she has been a  big success in finding ways to help those that struggle with trauma. So much so that she’s earned a spot in the list of 100 most influential people in the world.

 

If you suffer from any mental illness, especially PTSD, you should know her name for how much she has given us. She first began by studying post-rape trauma. It was a good field to be in, and there was a lot to learn there. In 2000 though, when she when on sabbatical with her husband, was when she really found her calling. They went to Israel, and just 5 days after getting there, the second intifadeh began. This encouraged Foa to begin focusing on combat-related PTSD.

 

Edna Foa then came to create a form of therapy called Prolonged Exposure, or PE, and the results of this technique were incredible. They just couldn’t be ignored.

 

PE therapy works by first figuring out what thoughts and situations trigger the PTSD patient. Then, the patient is slowly exposed to their fears so that they can work on overcoming them. This starts out by first dragging up the memories that the person carries, and going through them bit by bit and unraveling everything that’s beneath the surface. Once this is done, they eventually begin to face their fears by being physically exposed to them. These fear can be certain places and even specific circumstances.

 

The results of this treatment just couldn’t be overlooked, and PTSD sufferers usually felt better within just 12 weeks. No other form of treatment seemed to be this effective. PE has made a hugely positive impact on the way that we now treat PTSD, and more and more people are able to get the relief that they need from it. Even the military has picked it up and uses it to treat combat-related PTSD, those that have suffered in war and battle.

 

If you’d like to know more about Edna Foa and what she has done for the treatment of PTSD and other mental health issues, she has many published books and articles that you can check out. A great one is “PTSD: Treatment Efficacy and Future Directions”  for Psychiatric Times. She has truly made a big difference in this world, and it has earned her a spot on the list of Top 100 influencers in the world. PTSD is a serious illness to have to battle, but healing is more possible than ever thanks to people like Edna Foa.

 

Long-Term Effects of PTSD

We think of PTSD as only a problem that we suffer from mentally. We feel fear, anxiety, and hopelessness. It affects our memory and our ways of thinking. It’s a lot to deal with, but it’s only mental, right?

 

Wrong.

 

Many studies are now showing that PTSD can have some seriously dangerous physical effects if you suffer long-term. Problems such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and obesity can begin to occur as a result of long-term PTSD.

 

Hypertension can easily be a result of stress, and when you have PTSD, you know that you are put under stress constantly. Even daily tasks can become too much to handle at times, but the result, if you don’t try to seek the help you need, could be hypertension.

 

Hyperlipidemia is when you have unusually high amounts of fats and lipids in your bloodstream. This can cause all kinds of scary problems such as blood clots and even heart attacks and strokes. A number of things could cause this to happen when you have PTSD for an extended period of time. It could simply be that your stress has caused you to start making less healthy food choices and stop going to the gym, or it could be something else.

 

Obesity is yet another common effect of long-term PTSD. It could be caused by making unhealthy choices in the moment of feeling stressed and overwhelmed, or it could also be that your body is trying to store up the energy for when it needs it. Your physical body panics too.

 

The reasons why long-term PTSD causing these issues might not be completely known. But we do know that suffering for a long time can lead to hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and obesity. The best thing to do is to seek out the help you need and try to continue making healthy choices. Talk with your therapist and your doctor to figure out the best solution that will work for you.

Are Narcissists Incurable?

Are narcissists incurable? It’s a question that man of us must ask ourselves when faced with the dilemma of having a loved one in our lives who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s a question that we may not actually want the answer to, because it’s more complicated than it seems. So what is it that makes a narcissist seem so incurable? Lack of reasoning and feeling, plus the distortion of memories are all factors.

 

Lack of Reasoning – In order for someone to receive help and benefit from it, the person must first realize that there is a problem to be dealt with. If you think you have everything under control, you don’t need help. This is the mindset of the narcissist. They always believe that they are superior and better than everyone else, therefore, it must be everyone else who has a problem. When finally confronted with the issue at hand, they will still most likely refuse that anything is wrong, and this is because they lack reasoning. They are unable to see past their own ego and look at the logic of everything before them.

 

Lack of Feeling – Secondly, narcissists lack a lot of feelings. Even if they are able to realize that they are the problem, they probably won’t feel any guilt or remorse for it. They don’t care that they are causing problems for other people because the narcissist isn’t the one getting hurt. They don’t feel empathy for others, and this issue alone can stop them from ever being cured.

 

Distorted Memories – Thirdly, narcissists can have distorted memories. This means that their memory can be changed in their mind so that it was them that was victimized. The narcissist always thinks of themselves, so much so that they begin to distort the memory in their mind to make it seem as though it was actually the other person who was attacking them instead. This is also due, in part, to their lack of the ability to properly reason. This is a serious thing because it can, in the narcissist’s mind, reinforce the idea that the narcissist did nothing wrong. They truly believe they are innocent in all matters because that is what their memory tells them. How can a narcissist begin to get help for what they have done if they don’t even remember what happened? The narcissist will think “What? I didn’t really say that. I would have remembered it if I had.” But their memory has blocked out the bad parts about themselves so that they can continue on living in a distorted bliss and hurting everyone in their path.

 

These are the qualities of the narcissist that make them seem completely incurable. In order for them to make the much needed changes, they will have to face these facts and come to terms with them. In order to do that, they will need to have a deep trust in the people that are willing to help them, if the narcissist can ever accept that they need help.

Understanding a Narcissist’s Soul – Narcissus’s Reflection

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a serious problem for the person that has it, and a big headache to those having to deal with them. After all, it seems as though they are incapable of love and understanding. Some even go as far as to say that narcissists have no heart or soul. Other personality disorders, such as schizophrenia, psychopathy, and sociopathy have the same thing said about them. Could NPD really be just as bad?

 

To understand the soul of a narcissist, we must first know where the idea of narcissism first came from. In the Greek Myths, Narcissus was a man of extraordinary beauty, loved by many. One day, he knelt down by the river bank, and he just happened to catch a glimpse of his reflection. Instantly, he fell in love with the image before him, knowing that he had to have it for his own. But, being that it was only a reflection upon the waters, his attempts to reach out failed him, and he drowned trying to grab onto his reflection.

 

So the big thing to take away from the story is that Narcissus was not in love with himself, but merely a reflection of himself. He saw what everyone else saw, and strove to have that version of himself. This is how the soul of a narcissist is. They want to be the grand person that everyone sees. But deep down, that’s not who they truly are. Because of this, they end up failing in many areas of their life, trying desperately to hold onto the perfect image of themselves.