PTSD – the silent invader
Warning: If you have disgnosed or undiagnosed PTSD you may not want to read this post. I do not want to expose anyone to a “trigger’ of their symptoms.
Why do I call this disorder the silent invader? Simply put, because that is exactly what it is! It invades your sleep with horrible images or nightmares. Sometimes there are no actual visual images just vocal sounds of horror or fear. Cries in the night of bits and pieces of one’s psychological and/or physical pain. Images that are often distorted and co-mingled because the brain stores our trauma in scattered images. Then there is the sudden awakening, the shakes, the sweating, the pervasive fear, the screaming of one’s own voice as one tries to escape the nightmare.
When the trauma occurred years earlier, the event may have been completely forgotten by the conscience mind. But,it is still there, imprinted, waiting for something to make it rear its terrifying images. But often the trauma was recent, only days, weeks, or months ago. An event so horrible that no one should have had to experience it!
It stalks our awake time with equal fervor. Still like images as if from a movie, flashing past the eyes so rapidly at times it almost seems it didn’t happen. Voices, bits of conversation, screaming, cries of pain or fear, they are all there. The blood, the gore, the body parts and stench, or the evil seen in the eyes of the perpetrator or enemy are all there. They feel so real that one wants to reach out and push them away or touch them to see if they are really there.
These silent invaders may occur during an innocent conversation, watching a TV program, after hearing a sudden sound off in the distance, or accompanied by the detection of a scent. Frequently while reading a book or newspaper, injuring yourself while cooking, playing with the kids. The only evidence of their presence, a sparkle of fear, tightness in the chest, light headedness or dizziness, clamminess of the flesh and weakness throughout the body. Each, next impending event, a little more obvious than the preceding, until finally, one finds ones self totally enveloped in the event. At this point every waking moment can become moments of fear of the next flashback.
First comes the apprehension. Something has changed. A sudden hyper awareness begins to permeate our conscientiousness. But that soon gives way to a feeling of being enclosed in a separate place or time from events nearby. The clammy feeling all over the body, every breath an effort. Then there is the feeling of impending doom and fear. Reality feels like it is slipping away! It’s like being swallowed by a vortex that is spinning so fast, there is no escape. There is only the mind’s struggle to find just “one” real thing to hold onto as the vortex builds. I found a penny in my pocket! I told myself that as long as I knew it was a penny, I would make it and not go completely crazy!
It is all encompassing. Rational thought begins to slip away. There is only the feeling of being surrounded or swallowed up by fear and terror of images and events that will not go away. There are the screams and cries of pain or torture, the images and sounds become louder and more visual, more real, all encompassing.
The mind looks for an escape, an end, a reprieve. But, that doesn’t happen. Each time the entire event last longer, comes more frequently, leaves one more drained and afraid! Each time as reality returns it leaves one feeling as if the mind has begun to slip away. Is this insanity? Have I slipped over the edge? Legs feel so weak that support seems impossible. Exhaustion is indescribable.
I can’t tell anyone about this! Just thinking about it can make it happen! If I am lucky enough to get it all out before “it” starts again, people will think I am crazy. Am I safe? Will I hurt my wife, my kids, my husband, people around me? Will I fail my buddies around me? Will I freeze and let them down? I should have done more! Why am I still here? Am I becoming some kind of crazed being who will lose it all and go on a rampage killing everything around me because I can no longer separate real from the images and sounds inside my head. And God? Where the hell is God? Why can’t he stop this? Why is this happening to me? These are just a few of the types of questions that pass through the mind like a speeding train! Guilt, fear, sadness, sorrow, hopelessness, dread and anticipation are just some of they feelings. Our minds are not able to handle the overload!
You have just taken a journey with me through a moment, day, week, month, year, or lifetime of someone with PTSD. Depending on the age of the person when the trauma occurred, the type of trauma, the length of time of exposure to the trauma, and other circumstances that may or may not have been under the control of the victim, the degree of severity and recovery time will vary from complete recovery to never recovering at all. How quickly diagnosis and treatment occurs and whether or not the treatment is appropriate is a determining factor. Consideration must also be given to the life experiences and development of an individual before the trauma.
PTSD is not cowardice. It is not a refusal to grow up or be responsible. It is not a “catch all” or fake disorder diagnosed when all other treatments fail. It is real. It is or can be emotionally and functionally crippling for life.
If you or a loved one has any of these symptoms, get immediate medical help from a psychiatrist or qualified psychologist. An evaluation performed on a multiple level is needed. Medication may also be required. The brain functioning is altered with PTSD and medication often helps. I cannot stress enough the importance of early treatment. Individual and group therapy are in my opinion a must. Medication helps. But without proper diagnosis and therapy, symptoms can and often do return within about a year after the discontinuance for many and never for others.
For help you or someone else has only to look on the internet under PTSD in google.
Unless our troops in the field get more on site counseling and help and help after they come home, we will see more and more events such as the rape recently reported in the news. No one, no matter how well they are trained can endure the cruelty and just plain evil atrocities our troops and the coalition forces are exposed to on a daily basis without being affected. It only seems obvious to me that if one come from a culture of relative non violence, the trauma is even more crippling. There are no previous coping skills to deal with what the coalition forces are encountering.
As we begin to increase our offensives the enemy will become more brutal as they are becoming more desperate. They will do whatever they can to demoralize our troops. Our leaders in the field have the warning signs that they need more troops in the field to carry out these increased offensives. They may even be affected themselves by the stress. Add to that the political pressures from back home and the daily barrage of media negativity, the silence of the majority who ought to be more openly supportive, and what is left but to set up the situations where we are encouraging the frequency of troops developing PTSD or committing bazaar acts that normally would never be seen.
Now, before a real problem gets under way that can’t be stopped, we need to help these troops. We need more troops on the ground, more letters and cards, more praise for their efforts, more expressions from home that what they are experiencing is for a good cause. Please do what you can to let these troops know that we care. We haven’t forgotten them.We support them.
Speak out against those who spread dissent. Let’s make the voice our troops hear be ours and not the chorus of those un-American followers and members of groups like ANSWER and UPJ, or the politicians who only care about their own personal agenda, not our troops or nation!
In answer to a question I have seen posted in posts on several different blogs, “Are you proud of me and what I have done” I say “For what it’s worth, you damn right I am proud of you, each and everyone of you! ”
But pride is not enough. We need to let these troops know how we feel. It is tragic that they face death every day and the parades they see on the news are people protesting against what they are doing. It is criminal that they read the newspapers or hear the news and all they hear are reports of failure, mismanagement, poor decisions, crimes against civilians, crimes against prisoners. and any other negative comment that can be conceived.
WHO speaks for the 99.99999 per cent who never committed a misdeed? Who speaks for the soldier who watched his buddy get his brains splattered on the ground. Who speaks for the soldiers who lost their legs or arms, those maimed in every conceivable manner? Who speaks for the soldier whose wife or husband left them during this time of war because they could not stand the loneliness? Who comforts the soldier who just finished talking to his kids and is left with uncontrollable loss and guilt at not being there for them? Who speaks for the soldier whose mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter died and they could not be there to comfort them as they slipped away?
I propose on Memorial day that we all speak out as loudly as possibly to let our troops know that we speak out for them! We have not forgotten them. We are proud of them! We love them. We grieve with them! We cry with them! We celebrate every victory with them no mater how small or large.!
We support you, our troops!! No nation could ever be prouder than this nation! While it may be true that there is no greater lover than to lay down one’s life for another, or risk that life, it is also true that everyone needs to know that they are appreciated. We all have a need to know our life meant something!
So, get out your keyboards. Start showing your support now!! We only have a couple days to spread the word!!! Let the only sound our troops hear this 4th of July be that of a grateful nation. Let’s drown out every protester, every personally motivated politician, every negative media comment. Let’s let them only hear the roar of Americans all across the country saying, “thank you! We are proud of you!”