ashleigh

ptsd

does anyone have any good advice for living with ptsd other than drink myself into oblivion or other similar approaches? it scares the hell out of partners and even ourselves because we react unconsciously, especially when we sleep. certain meds help, but then again not everyone responds the same to the same med program. amvets and vfw are out for me. a recent episode had me in a panic that i had assaulted a psychiatrist for three days because she actually shook me to wake me. needless to say, i woke up swinging and startled, then when things started registering in my mind what was going on i froze up. don't ever want to repeat that sort of thing again. my ptsd is from being raped, in combat and a police officer. seems like something would click in my skull and tell me i need to find something less exciting to do. no such luck.

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Living with PTSD is hard and requires education. you need to learn about what PTSD is, how it affects your mind, how it affects your body and what PTSD means in your specific case. Everybody has specific triggers. each person with PTSD has to learn what their triggers are and determine how/if they can avoid them and make a plan of what to do if they encounter them. I know exactly what my triggers are and have a plan for most of them. It helps me feel more in control.

(and btw, you know you will not find the answer at the bottom of a bottle...)

The psych that shook you was way off base. Never touch a patient with PTSD if they are out of it...that is inviting trouble...it is also a boundary issue. You were probably dissociated. That was completely unacceptable. Any person who dates someone with PTSD needs to learn about this as well. Boundary issues are important in regular life but they become magnified in people who have had traumatic experiences. Knowing how to relate to the person you love is a good thing and in the case of someone with this condition there are just a few new things to learn. Even being alseep with someone with PTSD is different...nightmares or talking in your sleep, needing a light on, insomnia...you name it. But we still deserve love and the right person will see past all the problems.

PTSD can come from many things. I'm sorry you were raped. My PTSD came from a horrific childhood of incest, beatings, domestic violence, and rapes. Meds can help if you find the right ones but I know for myself that therapy was necessary as well.

ok, I had a lot to say about this...

truestorm

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well, concerning triggers, my little bro and i (both vets) are fully aware that you do not touch either of us to wake us. we wake each other from a distance and have also certain waking methods to communicate danger or the possibility of it. i also have had to explain these 'rituals' to my gf's in the past. even my friends and roomies when i lived in ny had to learn this. once one of my friends forgot to make an awful racket to let me know he was coming up and friendly. fortunately, i recognized him before i pulled the trigger. needless to say, both of us were deeply effected by that incident, but he also never forgot to raise a ruckus while approaching me in my sleep. before this past month, i stayed constantly at an orange if not red state of alertness. i absolutely could not bring myself to a lower state of readiness, even when i was at home. i was on a med that is commonly used to treat ptsd but it and i did not work out right. in fact, it made all of my dreams flashbacks from my past. so bad that i was trying anything to avoid sleep.

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the other bitch about being a vet and having lived a very high risk lifestyle/job, is that just out of the need for survival and safety, immediate action drills are incorporated into daily and nightly routines, even sleep. then when you get out of the life, these things are so ingrained that you do them witout even being aware of them. even something as innocent as keeping a cane beside the bed for those mornings that decide to remind me of all the abuse i have put my body though ends up across the room or some such similar thing. either way, it isn't where i left it, but i have absolutely no recall of moving it or even dreaming about the past or just having a flashback. it makes me feel like i need to wear a straightjacket as bedclothes. the meds knock my ass out, but they don't make me stay put. this builds upon a viscious cycle of isolation because i am deathly afraid of hurting someone i love. this explains why my kitty leaves the bed when i fall asleep. fortunately she hasn't been hurt, but apparently my movements were enough to scare her away while i am unconscious. you have now met my demons from the past

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I am 27 years old. I want to be in a relationship, but the prospect of physical intimacy seriously frightens me. Sometimes i am ok to hold hands with a prospective lover, and sometimes even a quick kiss on the cheek is acceptable. But nothing more...yet. and sometimes even these things prove impossible. I try to stop it, if i know it will happen, but i have hit people or screamed and run from dates who tried to kiss me, or pulled away from a casual embrace, unable to explain myself. Then she gets the idea that i am not attracted to her. Which is not true in the least. I dont want to scare anyone away before they even talk to me, but i want to be honest...no surprises, so they know when i pull away that its not them or when i crumple and curl up and go mute they did nothing wrong.

Is there anyone who could possibly understand?

I have been in therapy for 15 years. And things are improving, but i want to form attachments with people outside of the mental health community (no offense to my good friends therein) and more recently i have had questions.

Questions that i cant ask my therapist. She is a straight woman and seems to shy from such discussions, whenever i broach them.

Questions that i am afraid to seek in books, or videos, or media because i dont want to bite off more than i can chew, and risk scaring myself worse.

Questions i tried to ask the last two women who claimed they loved me, but that made them impatient, petulant, and angry.

Is anybody willing to answer some questions?

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I live with PTSD and bipolar episodes everyday. I did not seek help until I was in my early 30's. The doctors that have treated me over the years have tried to keep me "stable" with medications. After several years they finally got the right combination. From what I've been told I have blacked out for no reason and hurt people around me. My ptsd is the primary reason for me being bipolar according to my doctors. I am a veteran also, before the double diagnosis I drank and did just about any and all drugs. I am always scared of people getting to close to me for fear of endangering them. I wish I could tell everyone that this goes away, but for some it only gets worse

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well, the only thing i ever found at the bottom of a bottle was an empty bottle. not exactly a healthy or constructive choice, but one positive was that it allowed me to keep going until i was ready to start dealing with things. however, i do not recommend it. having a not so active night's sleep is how i measure progress. when my bear is still in bed with me, i know that it was a relatively peaceful night.

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This is a particularly difficult subject to write (talk) about. I first saw this thread some weeks ago and have been trying to avoid it ever since, but my mind keeps wandering back to it. I feel like we, as survivors owe it to each other to share our stories as much as we are able to as a way of offering hope for the future by way of understanding. I don't know how long ago this thread was actually started, but for so many of us the need to have this aspect of our lives understood is a life long journey and for that reason I believe stories like this will always be relevant.

I doubt that anybody would be surprised to learn that the armed forces are not exactly transparent as to the roles that women play within their ranks. (That may be less true now since women are officially allowed to serve in combat positions). "Accidental" or "unintentional" combatants are more likely to be casualties of a mission gone sideways than members of a rear party being overrun. In the Marine Corps specifically, women were integrated into units during peacetime, with no real thought as to how that would play out in the event of war.

If you serve long enough and/or (as in my case) your timing is "just so" with respect to when and where, you will inevitably come face to face with the realization that not everything you are asked to do is in service to your country but rather is merely in service to your government. That realization is both exhilarating and disheartening. The things that you do which lead you to this knowledge will forever change you. For the lucky ones, the changes are small and subtle. Were that me, I would not be writing this. I rarely detail all the nonsensical things that were required of me, and I have no intention of doing so here. Suffice it to say that despite my best intentions - I broke. I was eventually able to melt those broken pieces together to create something new, but I've never been able to make them fit the way they used to.

When I got home my family and friends knew that something was different. I did my best to keep them from noticing, but some beasts simply cannot be conquered by willpower alone. I was not as readily affectionate as I once was. I had radical mood swings. I couldn't muster any interest in anything. I developed a disturbing habit of turning my focus inward and creating an almost palpable distance between myself and everyone else (the mythical thousand yard stare). My discontentedness was all consuming.

I often wondered if they could see how my once nearly dormant sense of aggressiveness now rode very close to the surface. Or how I had developed a seemingly insurmountable mountain of mistrust. Did they know that crowds made my skin crawl? Could they tell that my heart nearly beat out of my chest at the sound of a car horn, or a book dropping or a man shouting? Was the evidence of the nightmares visible to them?

Could they possibly understand that I was not different because of the horrible lessons I had learned while I'd been away, but because of the parts of me I was forced to leave behind as payment for those lessons? Would the distinction even make sense to them if I tried to explain? Did I really want someone who hadn't walked in my boots to understand any of it?

Eventually, gradually - things got better for me. I still have trust issues, but at least the mood swings have abated. I can't seem to help the fact that I automatically look for escape routes whenever I enter a room. Loud noises and crowds don't bother me so much anymore unless they are completely out of place. Even though my aggressiveness has returned to normal levels, I find that it rises much more quickly than it used to making me less hesitant to place myself in harm's way. I am, once again an active participant in my own life. It doesn't seem as though the nightmares will ever go away. They recede for long periods at a time now - months sometimes - but they are a part of me, living within my subconscious waiting for some random trigger to release them.

I am fortunate to have two Uncles who served in Vietnam and were willing to take my calls at all hours of the day and night. They knew what I needed even when I didn't.  Once I called one of them at 3am. He met me for breakfast 30 minutes later. We never even talked about it. We ate - I went home - I felt better. They saved me by doing nothing more than simply being available. I have a cousin recently returned from Afghanistan - these days I'm taking his calls.  I have come full circle.

I cannot stress enough that I am absolutely NOT, in any way discounting the advantages of a professional therapist - especially one experienced in treating PTSD. That being said, I have found that sometimes the only help you really need is a voice on the other end of the phone who has been where you are. One who wears the same scars and has the same intimate knowledge of the demons that lurk in the shadows.

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