“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation.”
The above definitions are what you find when you Google those words. As I was getting ready to write this blog, I felt it was important that you knew what PTSD was and what a Survivor is. Although survivors come in all forms, I am choosing the definition that fits me. It is “a person who copes well with difficulties in their life” even though I don’t always “cope well”.
To be honest I could write an entire book on this one subject if I could remember it all. But this is a blog to help explain as best I can while trying to keep it short & simple.
In Feb of 1987, I met my first husband. He was 11 years older than me and at first, I had zero interest in him. I was not attracted to him at all. Yet, he pursued me and was very charming and impressive with his words. What sealed the deal was when he said “I will take care of you and your son”.
At the time I had a 4-month-old baby boy and I was barely 17 years old. I was alone and had no idea what I was doing. No one, not even my parents had ever said to me “I will take care of you and your son”. Thinking that I would not be with this man forever I figured this is what would be helpful to me in my life right now. I had no idea how horrible that decision would be.
Me and my son, age 17 and 2 weeks old.
I moved into his home only a few months later. At first, his controlling ways seemed like concern for me. I had no idea he was controlling me. Then sooner or later finally brainwashing me. He would say things like “Please come hang out with me" or "don’t go out with your friends”. I thought it was sweet and that he wanted to be with me because he liked me. It started out so slow and so innocent that by the time I figured it out, it was too late.
Yes, there were signs and yes, I should have left, but that’s not how it works. One thing you should never ask someone is “why didn’t you leave?” It is never that simple. Usually, someone who is controlling you has planted many seeds of doubt in your mind. They have you convinced that you are worthless and no one else will want you and that you have a good thing. And, you believe them. They are very good at what they do.
Most of my abuse was emotional but it also became physical. One time I had so many lumps on my head from him that I couldn’t even brush my hair. He raped me, more than once. I am not sure why on earth a man would want to have sex with someone who is crying but I guess it gives them a sense of control. Another reason that leaving is so hard is that is the most dangerous time for someone to leave. He would remind me often that if I left with the kids, he would kill me. And to this day that is the one thing, he said that I still believe. That is usually the only time he would actually hit me is when I said I was leaving. One time I tried to leave he almost killed me with my 3 children watching at the end of the hall. He sat on me, trapping one arm by my side, and trapping my right arm behind me, hurting my shoulder. He then covered my mouth and nose so I wasn’t able to breathe. I am thankful that none of my children remember this. I am sure it is in there somewhere and affects them more than they realize. He would tell me how bad of a mother I was and that I wasn’t good for the children. I wasn’t allowed to have friends and when I did I would always get yelled at afterward. I wasn’t allowed to work either. No outside world connections because he knew that someone would tell me what he was doing was wrong. I was all alone, I only had him to rely on. The emotional abuse only got worse once I left him. He tortured me that way for many years and would get away with it over and over. No one would help me. The police never once helped me and neither did the courts. Even when he kidnapped my children.
He was and still is a narcissist, an abuser, a rapist, a pathological liar, and an all-around bad guy, who tried to kill me and kidnap my children. But because he was so “charming” even when I would tell someone, no one believed me. I was finally able to leave in 1994. We needed money so I was finally able to go to work. And then I had money to leave. I had to hide at my boss’s house for a week before I could move into an apartment. Over the years I have forgotten most of that time in my life and I certainly do not like thinking about it. And for the most part, I have moved on, well at least learned to live with my past mistakes and abuse. I am now happily married, have three grown children and have 4 grandchildren with 2 on the way.
But in 2016 the worst trigger for me got elected as president of the United States.
For the last 4 years, I have felt like I am living that nightmare all over again. When I see #45 all I see is a man who gets away with everything, treats people with no respect, and well to put it simply…is just plain mean. He reminds me of my ex in every way. Not that I ever liked bullies or anything but ever since my experience with my ex, I hate them. I can’t stand to watch shows where people are bullies and get away with it. Movies and shows I can avoid, but how do you avoid a trigger when that “trigger” is the president of the United States?
Trauma Avoidance Signs of PTSD
Many survivors will avoid locations, people, or even topics of conversation that remind them of the traumatic event itself. Trauma avoidance signs of PTSD include an aversion to emotions, cognitions, or conversations about the traumatic experience, avoidance of places that cause reminders of the trauma and avoidance of hobbies or activities due to all of the fear surrounding the trauma.
Me with all three of my children Nov 2008
Here is some information I found on the internet to help you if you also suffer from PTSD.
People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people.
Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD include the
- Intense feelings of distress when reminded of a tragic event
- Extreme physical reactions to reminders of trauma such as a nausea, sweating or a pounding heart
- Invasive, upsetting memories of a tragedy
- Flashbacks (feeling like the trauma is happening again)
- Nightmares of either frightening things or of the event
- Loss of interest in life and daily activities
- Feeling emotionally numb and detached from other people
- Sense of a not leading a normal life (not having a positive outlook of your future)
- Avoiding certain activities, feelings, thoughts or places that remind you of the tragedy
- Difficulty remembering important aspects of a tragic event
DSM-V Revisions to Signs and Symptoms of PTSD
In the most recent publication of the DSM, the DSM-V, PTSD symptoms are grouped into five different clusters. One or more symptoms are required from each of these clusters in order for a patient to receive a full diagnosis.
Those clusters include:
Stressor – (one required) The person was exposed to injury or severe illness that was life-threatening, which includes actual or threatened injury or violence. This may include at least one of the following:
- Direct exposure to the trauma
- Witnessing a trauma
- Exposure to trauma by being a first responder, such as police, firefighter, medic, or crisis counselor
- Learning that someone close to you experienced the trauma
Intrusion Symptoms (one required) – The person who was exposed to a trauma then re-experiences the trauma in one or more ways, including:
- Distressing and intense memories
- Distress or physical reactions after being exposed to reminders, known as “triggers”
Unpleasant Changes to Mood or Thoughts (two required) –
- Blaming self or others for the trauma
- Decreased interest in things that were once enjoyable
- Negative feelings about self and the world
- Inability to remember the trauma clearly
- Difficulty feeling positive
- Feelings of isolation
- Negative affect, and difficulty feeling positive
Avoidance (one required) – This occurs when a person tries to avoid all reminders of the trauma, including:
- Avoiding external reminders of what happened
- Avoiding trauma-related thoughts or emotions, sometimes through the use of drugs or alcohol
Changes in Reactivity (two required) – This occurs when a person becomes more easily startled and reacts to frightful experiences more fully, including symptoms of:
- Aggression or irritability
- Hypervigilance and hyper-awareness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Heightened startle response
- Engaging in destructive or risky behavior
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
All of these symptoms must have persisted at least one month, and they must be causing distress or functional impairment of some kind. These symptoms must not be related to any substance use, illness, or medications.
Insomnia is one PTSD symptom that is associated with hyperarousal. Many survivors with PTSD have significant difficulty falling asleep and staying in a deep sleep throughout the night. Due to persistent fears, some individuals with PTSD also sleep with the lights on, making it difficult to obtain a restful, REM-level of sleep.
The above information was taken from the following website: