Don’t you wish people came with instruction manuals?? Or today’s technology gurus would invent an app to give you a quick peek at another person’s ‘issues’? Hey!!! That might be fun!
I can see it now. You are walking down the street and this good-looking guy bumps into you and says, “So sorry, excuse me”. Once the interaction has taken place you whip out your smart phone, aim it at the guy and tap the app. It reads… BE KIND TO ME, MY DOG JUST DIED… or…I’M A PICK POCKET, CHECK YOUR WALLET.
How about an app that just displays your latest Facebook status? Nah.
I know… how about displaying one of the many labels put on each of us. ADD for example. BITCH, DRUGGIE, ALCOHOLIC, A (as in scarlet), ALS, PCOS are more. Mine would read PTSD.
Yes… I have been diagnosed with PTSD. And before you begin… let me answer the questions I know are bubbling to the surface of your brain.
No, I have not been in combat.
No, I don’t duck down when a car backfires.
Yes, I love fireworks!
Yes, I startle easily
No, I am not on medication
Yes, I suffer from depression at times
Yes, it does impact my daily living at times
Yes, some people treat me differently
Yes, it bothers me
No, there is no ‘cure’
No, I have not resorted to alcohol
Yes, I have been in therapy
Yes, therapy works
No, I am not in a relationship so I can’t answer that one
Yes, it impacts my relationships with others.
Yes, I have tried yoga, meditation, art, writing, fill-in-the-blank
Yes, I know I look ‘normal’ (that one ALWAYS gets me… What exactly IS normal?)
All of the above questions… and many others have come my way either face to face, via email, or Facebook messages. I am not offended or shocked by any of them. I have always answered frankly and honestly, and will continue to do so. The ONE question I cannot answer quite yet is, “How did you get PTSD?” It’s a very personal question that I have not figured out a short, socially acceptable answer I want to share with the world. As I continue to write my book, Wearing Highrise Panties with Lowrise Jeans an answer is coming forward. Perhaps you will just have to read the book when it’s published to find out.
In the meantime, once a week I will write how PTSD affects ME… and only me. Hopefully I will able to shed some light on this alphabet label I have been branded with and prove to the world we are ‘normal’ … just like you ☺
Let’s get started…
About five years ago I was having problems sleeping. My husband had passed away after battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)… another alphabet label… for more than eight years. I assumed the sleeping issues were a result of depression and figured, “This too shall pass”.
My husband’s planned passing did not turn out to be the caring, loving ending it was supposed to be. Due to mudslinging and threats from ‘those who shall remain nameless’, it turned into a gut wrenching and ugly mess. Lawyers had to get involved a few weeks after his passing… and that’s all you need to know at the moment.
Back to the ‘not sleeping’… a friend of mine who happens to be a psychotherapist suggested I see someone about the problem. She has been watching me slide downhill from a distance and waited patiently for the day I asked for help. As a friend she couldn’t ethically work with me… but when I finally DID ask for help, she quickly gave me the name of another psychotherapist she thought would be perfect for the job. It took me another few months to actually place the call.
The therapist and I got along just fine. Talking about my life, what I was like in the past, what I am like now, etc. At this point I have not been diagnosed with anything. Just a person with some sleeping issues ‘talking it out’ with a professional. Eventually medication was suggested as ‘an aid’. Oh no!!! Not me!! I refuse to take medicine for a sleeping issue. In my view this was a ‘mind over matter’ problem and I could deal with it without medication, thank you very much!
During this time I had been meeting a friend for dinner out every few months. When I finished relating the medication story they replied, “Why don’t you give it a shot? Sometimes you need the medication to provide an even base so you can begin to solve the problem.” Hmmmm…. That sounded logical. It hadn’t been explained to me in that manner. OK… I’ll check it out.
I made an appointment with my medical doctor the very next day. It was a regular, boring physical with all the normal questions. I filled him in on my sleeping issues… or lack there of, and gave him a cliff note version of the last few days of my husband’s life on earth. Then he left me alone in the room for a while… a long while… a very long while.
As I glanced around the examination room earlier I noticed a few framed newspaper and magazine articles on the walls. In my boredom I decided to read them. Huh… my doctor apparently is some big wig in the area of Depression. Who knew? So… as I sit in the empty room awaiting his return I diagnose myself with Depression.
The door suddenly flies open and I jump off the table. The doctor zooms in with a smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. You know the one, the pasted smile. The smile that says, “I have some news for you and you might not like it”, smile. I am sure they are taught that smile in medical school.
“After reviewing your history I believe you have PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” he announces. He continues, “It is very normal for someone who has been through a situation like yours.”
“Uh, are you sure you want to stick with that diagnosis? I felt for sure you would declare me depressed and call it a day. Isn’t that your area of expertise?”
“Yes, I am… but I’m sticking with the diagnosis. PTSD”.
I walked out of his office dazed and confused, grasping a prescription for Wellbutrin.
So there you have it… the very beginning of my story of PTSD. As the weeks progress I will tell more of my story. Most likely I will post towards the end of the week… Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Those days seem to be my best writing days for ‘touchy’ subjects. Sundays I don’t function at all. I HATE Sundays. If a good fairy granted me one wish, it would be to banish Sundays from my life. Oops… Off topic ☺
Have YOU been ‘labled’? If so… what?
Please leave a comment if you have a PTSD question. I promise I will answer.