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PTSD: That was then, this is now

According to the National Institutes of Health website “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.”

Signs and Symptoms of PTSD are grouped into three categories:

1. Re-experiencing symptoms:
• Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
• Bad dreams
• Frightening thoughts.
Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

2. Avoidance symptoms:
• Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
• Feeling emotionally numb
• Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
• Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
• Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.
Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

3. Hyperarousal symptoms:
• Being easily startled
• Feeling tense or “on edge”
• Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.
Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

Unfortunately whenever a psychological experience is dubbed “a disorder” people get the impression that the person who has this experience is “defective” or “crazy” or of poor character. The thought that PTSD symptoms are related to some core defect in character/personality serves to further increase the sufferer’s anxiety and level of symptoms. Not wanting to consider any predisposing factors to these symptoms may also prevent a person from doing real soul searching.

There is one main reason to emphasize that PTSD symptoms constitute a disorder. That is that the symptoms greatly impair a person’s ability to function. They also rob people of love and well-being. Overwhelming anxiety is not conducive to well-being or loving relationships.

Because PTSD symptoms are debilitating we have to address them, face them and ultimately conquer them. That means acknowledging the other fears/concerns that go along with having these symptoms:

1. Am I crazy?
2. Am I defective?
3. Will I ever be normal again?
4. Why did this happen to me?
5. How can I prevent this from happening again?
6. Can I trust myself?

To start to recover, notice that if you reduce PTSD down to its core essence it is simply difficulty processing that the trauma was then and today is now. For people whose PTSD is related to an experience with a sociopath, the problem is that the sociopath may not be gone. The then and now is blurred. The worst things done by the sociopath are in the past and there may be protections in place but the sociopath is still around. Sometimes that source of trauma is the other parent of beloved children.

Recovery in such a context means having a clear head to really sort out what was then and what is now. Next week we will consider other roadblocks to distinguishing then from now.



219 Comments on "PTSD: That was then, this is now"

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  1. Outlier says:

    hurtnomore, I’m so glad you have found this site. At 18, I was already traumatised by much, but couldnt articulate the fog to anybody. I analysed everything silently in my head, or in journals but had no confidence/voice to vocalise it until I was 38 (now). I can dig a journal dated 1990 and I’m writing pure sociopathic analysis. So when I read back data online I could have sued for plagarism, haha. I’ve no idea where the insight came from, but I believe abused peopel are incredibly insightful and non abused are simply blind and shallow. (not their fault). Abuse teaches much about human nature. I wish there were these resources decades ago for evreyone here and those who haven’t yet found this site. When the student is ready to learn, the teacher begins to speak. I know I’ve misquoted, but you get the gist.



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  2. bulletproof says:

    Dr Leedom

    According to the National Institutes of Health website “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.”

    I am tired of this description of PTSD / It never really described my experience, maybe I didnt have full blown military combat PTSD…but I would add to this it’s an anxiety….. would not call it a disorder, its an adaptive survival mechanism that protects and staggers the overwhelm into bite size chunks…that’s what I experienced, it was an AID to processing the threat of annialation.

    I would add it can develop after exposure to the lies, gaslighting techniques, betrayal and subsequent dumping by a Psychopath/Sociopath…the trauma for me was psychological and emotional not physical (even though my body knew it could turn violent and if that switch was flicked I could kill or be killed)

    The flashbacks were 24/7 running constantly with little break…the traumatic event being replayed? every single interaction we had running back to day one….my mind would not let up on showing me every single fragment of every lie, every betrayal, even down to expressions on his face to the way he walked into a room. I eventually let the movie roll and just watched it all. I would ask myself why…why all the re runs?? and it was like, just listen, just look…do not question this is layers of learning going into the computer!!! it’s valuable and part of the very special reward for surviving…Our life supposedly flashes before us when we are dying…well this is the same thing only we are still alive. There are numerous gems in the flashbacks…nothing to be disordered about or ashamed of…in fact the opposite.

    The nightmares are the same, its the adrenalin, the fight or flight response getting activated while we sleep. The unconscious need for expression, the live it out, feel it in the moment make it real because so much of what the P did to me was take away my reality. The nightmares gave me back my reality…in horrible chaotic pictures that kind of woke me up literally to tell me HE WAS a scumbag!

    My nighmare special was me looking out into a garden where trees were being cut down, men everywhere with sawblades carving through what once was a beautiful landscape….I was hiding but could see it all clear as day. I think that’s what we do, hide the truth from ourselves because it’s UNBEARABLE…the nightmares give the truth back to us, we eventually integrate that back into our experience and become WHOLE again…

    I owe so much to PTSD and my nightmares, I would have gone cuckoo without the balancing effect of something greater than myself, an intelligence far greater than me at work, sifting, sorting through, organising and thanking me for going through it. It’s special, it really is.
    I would re name it post traumatic support device



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