Let’s face it, it’s not the DIAGNOSIS that brought us all here together; it’s the symptoms that go along with it. The problem is there is a whole array of different symptoms that plague us. As a provider, you should remember that each battle is unique to the person. No two people can come out of a traumatic situation the exact same-even if it was the same trauma; we’re all raised different, have different outlooks on life, different values. DO NOT let that scare you for one minute- you will lose your loved ones’ trust.
Ptsd.ne.gov is a real user-friendly site that I like to get information from time to time; and with some exploring you can see that the symptoms are grouped into 3 categories: Re-experiencing, avoidance/numbing, and arousal symptoms. People with PTSD will undoubtedly tell you they experience from time to time symptoms from all 3 categories; sometimes individually, and during the tough times, all together. We can’t tell you when it’s coming, if we are LUCKY we can tell you when we’re experiencing them- you NEED to be able to recognize it all on your own. Personally, I like to hide my feelings/frustrations (which makes me even MORE grateful for my spouse- who often is the one who is left to break my “spells”.)
Re-experiencing symptoms are as real as it gets. It’s more than those games that are the amongst the newest of fads where you work as a team to “Escape the dungeon” or free yourselves from whatever makeshift terror- you might as well have plucked us right from the timeline & plopped us right back into the event. What was going on in your darkest of hours? Does it give you chills just to think about it? We can FEEL it all over again, SEE it just as it’s happening, hear and taste the exact duplicate of what we experienced when the trauma was occurring. I think that for myself, this is the scariest of symptoms- it’s the part that keeps me up at night if my spouse isn’t home. It is terrifying the ability the mind has over the body, even from the subconscious level. Sleep deprivation is just a side effect of these symptoms.
Of course, no one wants to be reminded of what happened on a difficult day; it’s what sacrifices you’re willing to make to avoid the memories that makes the difference with PTSD suffers’. I am incredibly grateful that I live in a different country to where my incident occurred. I also no longer serve in the military, so a repeat scenario is not within the realm of possibilities. However, if I would’ve stayed in I know full well I would have avoided anything that held potential to remind me of my difficult night. However, numbness is a feeling I know all too well. You see- during my trauma I froze like a deer in headlights. I fight with myself a lot knowing that I didn’t do anything to protect myself from what was going on, that I could’ve done more. That in turn leads to feeling like I failed. You know what though? I KNOW I didn’t fail. For you that’s reading this YOU DIDN’T FAIL EITHER- it’s the people involved in the trauma: the rapist, the terrorist, the spouse beater- THOSE are the people to blame.
Have you heard of the “fight or flight” response system? The sympathetic and para-sympathetic system for you caregivers. That’s a part of an individual’s brain that’s considered subconscious because you cannot control it. Arousal symptoms affect the survivor by plaguing this part of the brain. Maybe you’ve been in an unfamiliar area & felt the chills run down your neck as you make your way back to your car from a “pit stop.” Imagine if the chills never went away- how on edge you would be. Everyday life becomes a struggle to do “what’s expected.” For some of us, that fear might not ever go away.