just phyllis

just phyllis
Small Town, Indiana, USA
November 13
Blogging with PTSD --------------- "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia _____________________________________ All works ┬ęPhyllis45, the author of this blog. _____________________________________ Also posting at Our Salon http://oursalon.ning.com/ http://oursalon.ning.com/profile/Phyllis


APRIL 30, 2012 7:47PM

Living with Trauma

Rate: 19 Flag


 Driving into the sunrise...

So many people live with trauma. In fact, I'd guess everyone visits some sort of trauma every day. Someone's alarm didn't go off. Someone's hot water heater crapped out. Someone had a flat tire. Heck, someone broke a nail.

Then there are the bigger traumas. A tornado hits your town. A loved one dies. Your house burns down. You break your leg.

We also have traumas inflicted on us by other people. Beatings, knifings, shootings. Rape. Emotional brainwashing by people who are supposed to protect you.

All of these traumas have equal importance, depending on whomever is experiencing them. An alarm not going off could have earthshattering consequences. There are people to whom being knifed is just another day at the office. What makes the trauma important is how it affects the individual that experiences it.

PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, affects millions of people around the world. I live with it, myself. The theory for chronic PTSD is an accululation of trauma capped off by one major event that breaks the proverbial camel's back. Symptom's include nightmares, flashbacks, and hyperawareness of one's surroundings. You could also be paranoid and hypersensitive to insult and slights and learn to not only not trust the people around you but also to not trust yourself.

Why would you trust? You've been hurt, badly. No one seems to understand this. You've been told to just get over it. You've probably been told that the traumatic event could have been prevented if only YOU had done something differently, thereby making it YOUR FAULT! You know, logically, that the event wasn't your fault but there's this person who claims to love you telling you that it COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED. So you begin to doubt yourself. You doubt your judgment. And, you begin to doubt the person telling you this because you know deep down inside that they are wrong. Eventually, you decide that there is something REALLY WRONG WITH YOU because YOU CAUSED THIS TO HAPPEN. The truth is now irrelevent. And trust is now dead.

But, you want to keep trying. So you venture out into public. You expose little things about yourself and find out you're not alone. You start to get therapy, and find out that life might be do-able. Of course, you have to learn emotions all over again. Personally, I have had to teach myself how to react in social situations, and am still learning how to interact on a personal level. Currently, I am trying to figure out how to charm a man, something I used to do as easily as I breathe. Mixed results, so far. It's hard to figure out when we are in a situation where "sexual harassment" and loss of a job is a possibility.

You are finding out, though, that every time you think you are making progress, you run into an event that pushes a button for you. You react with strong emotion. Actually, you might be over-reacting but that's okay because for you, those emotions are very, very real. When the moment is passed you may feel embarassed, even humiliated, over your reaction. But you shouldn't. I view them as learning experiences now. An opportunity to find my buttons. An opportunity to study my reactions and to trace the emotions to their source. And the sources usually have nothing to do with the event that evoked them.

A current example- this new man. Last week, we would talk and make eye contact. His face would turn red. Definite interest being shown. Friday morning, he walked into my work space and I slumped in my chair and pulled my coat around me. I did not plan this, I did not want this, but it was a totally instinctive reaction to this man showing an interest in me. He was taken aback and physically took a half-step back. Today, he was not quite as friendly. I now have to figure out how to fix the damage. Why did I do that? Good question. The easy answer is, that I was raped. But I also had an emotionally distant family that demanded perfection so my two boyfriends were also people that I could never please so I have learned to not trust my judgment when it comes to picking men. Now, this guy comes with good references, which the others didn't, but my lizard brain ignored the memo.

Trauma. We have all experienced it. We don't all get PTSD, true enough. But before you write someone off as a whack job, stop and think. Everyone has a back story. You don't need to know what it is. But you can be a person that makes the world a safer place for them.

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Stark, honest and well-written, Phyllis! Many "empathetic feelings" for (with) you, and will be looking forward to following ensuing comments! R
"Paranoid and hypersensitive to insult
and slights
and learn to not only not trust the people around you
but also to not trust yourself."

(this is bipolar, too............)
(so many symptoms are shared by our beloved diagnoses.
no flashbacks, for me.
eh, well, there are the dreams, tho..
last night i dreamed i was convicted of sex crimes
i did NOT do
and it was in the newspaper, and
so then
my only choice was to kill myself from the shame,
which i couldnt figure out a way to do..)

what a terrible thing to happen to such an enlightened soul
as you...except...was it not the trauma that gotcha to where
u are today...?...strong, smart, funny and did i mention strong?

Why would you trust? You've been hurt, badly.
No one seems to understand this.
You've been told to just get over it.

those who say get over it gotta get over themselves, ha.
lovely cruise on life's waters, they have had, no doubt
from somewhere....

nothing matters, phyliss, except this very moment,
whatever is in your view,
whatever object, thing,
you concern urself with.

trauma is the human condition, if you are,
forgive me for saying this,
phyllis45's brighteyes. you are a formidable woman. i have no doubt you will figure out how to charm the man.

my former therapist thought i might have ptsd, and if those are the symptoms i got 'em. i will take what you say here to heart. in fact, i will go outside right this second, sit on my porch, and ponder, in the night air.

thank you for writing this. would that we all strove to make the world a safer place.
phyllis45's brighteyes. you are a formidable woman. i have no doubt you will figure out how to charm the man.

my former therapist thought i might have ptsd, and if those are the symptoms, i got 'em. i will take what you say here to heart. in fact, i will go outside right this second, sit on my porch, and ponder, in the night air.

thank you for writing this. would that we all strove to make the world a safer place.
podunkmarte, thank you.

James, life happens, ya know. Actually, you do know. And what an interesting dream. Maybe you couldn't find a way to off yourself because you really don't want to. And live in the moment. Yeah, I've been doing that since Lance died. I need to start making plans again now. I want to graduate before I'm 60. ;0)

daisyjane, I hope the night air is helping. Stars are a great focus for pondering.
A genuine smile, and maybe a wish of , "Happy May Day" tomorrow and the self protective action will be forgotten by the gentleman. Pretty wonderful that you can see that kind of thing for what it is and not make it more than it needs to be; an understandable reaction based on your life circumstances. Something that you're working with.
And Phyllis, that is a gorgeous photo. Happy May Day!
Phyllis, you are amazing. I am honored to know you.

Maybe the guy would like to meet you for lunch al fresco at your fountain? Meet, relaxing public place and short time frame. ?
I've written on PTSD as well as suffering from trauma. This hit home and brought tears to my eyes. Xoxo. Thank you for putting yourself out there.
"Just get over it" comes out of people's mouths but they themselves never want to hear it said to them. It should be outlawed, or at least called out for what it is: a passive-aggressive form of adult bullying.

As for the blame game regarding trauma, that is another thing that people do to try and justify the awful things that happen to good people. In that--in their heads--there must always be a reason why something bad happens. This blaming makes me mad, because it implies that--pre-trauma—the injured party was automatically assigned the responsibility of performing what amounts to a psychological intake on everyone they encounter. Which is a ridiculous assumption.

Your self-awareness is evident, and thank goodness for that gift in the midst of it all.
OIT, it's taken a lot of time to get there. Happy May Day to you, too!

MM, I like you, too. I think I might be getting mushy, here. I have been trying to figure out how to tell him I plan to be at the pinball arcade Saturday evening, about 6-ish. Lunch at the fountain might work, though. As a starter. Thanks! :0)
The spookiest thing about PTSD is that so many people don't know they have it... they're out there in the world just trying their best to "Get over it and get a life!"
Like folks with AD, bipolar and schizophrenics they become adept at masking or hiding the overt symptoms. Hell I didn't understand PTSD until I was nearly forty and didn't admit I had it for another few years. I've figured out how to cope with it and consciously diminish the impact of the symptoms... it's different for each and every one.
MichelleD, thank you. It is a rough place to live, isn't it. XO back. Or at least the O.

Amy, thanks. I've had years of counseling and introspection to get here. One of my counselors-in-training actually suggested I get over it, but the next week she apologized and said her teacher had explained it to her. She turned out to be a good one.
jmac, congrats on your progress. It is, indeed, different for everyone. I read a comment you made, about having to think your feelings, and I understood that exactly. Kinda weird, isn't it, having to think through what others do so effortlessly.
And now, off to bed. I have to work at 7 a.m. Have a good night!
All I am able to say is thank you for your courage in sharing this account of what it's like to be you. I am currently communicating with a nephew, an army veteran, who is also dealing with PTSD--I think I will be better able to talk with him now.

May you find peace.
luck on your healing journey
I have PTSD for daring to defend a raped student of mine, a Ph.D candidate at Okinawa Christian University. The police treat rapists as the victims and the victim as having done something to justify the event.

For this reason, only ~1% are ever reported in this incredibly male dominant "culture."

When this alcoholic found out that I was the one behind my student's attempt to have him prosecuted, he stalked me relentlessly for two years.

Despite more than a thousand pages of text messages, lewd photoshopped pics, and two attempted break ins at my apartment, both of which he was caught red-handed by the police, the hundreds of man (woman) hours required to assemble the evidence in two languages was for naught, as the prosecutor ruled it insufficient.

The case never went to court. He had vowed to destroy both our careers and he, largely succeeded.

Because the police were here so often to examine my computer and see his crude text messages, my once adoring neighbors treated ME as a pariah, as the appearance of impropriety in this schizoid nation is sufficient to condemn one to lasting guilt unless proven innocent.

Anything, else, I would have said has already been said, so I'll simply disappear into the netherworld and rate.

There used to be a sign on the subway trains that said something like, "Not all disabilities are obvious," meaning just give up your seat if someone looks like they need it. These are words to live by, I think. It doesn't hurt to make the world a safer place. R
John, how wonderful if this post can help. That's what I hoped would happen.

Kathy, thanks!

Mark, that would be horrible to live through. I'd heard that honor was all in Japan, but I guess I didn't realize it was the appearance that counted more than the actions. Thank you for sharing.

nilesite, that would be a good sign. It's nice to see the subway as a civil place. And making the world safer.
Heres to good eye contact.
Love that you wrote it all out, Phyllith.
Algis, I had forgotten that eye contact can be fun! Now, how do I draw an eye with your squiggles...

Kim, yeah. Probably not a great idea for bedtime, though.
Thanks god I have only been living with Drama. Trauma would be too much for me actually. Then again I should get it together because life is a changing.Nice one 45!
Algis, I imagine drama is enough for anyone. Life is changing for you? I hope it's for the good!
I am so interested in trauma. I think I have some sort of secondary PTSD because I have been around my mom who was traumatized in her youth and in Pearl Harbor. And then I lived with two years and am still friends with two very traumatized Viet Vets who both had horrible childhoods.
I like how you explained it is a cumulative effect that reaches a breaking point. I have heard it alters your body physically. It is interesting that they are inventing a pill that can erase memories. I think there might be some help in that but not sure.
I don't trust anyone especially the ones who do not acknowledge their PTSD. You are very brave and I wish you well.
I've known people who have suffered with post traumatic stress and it's awful and affects everyone differently. You are right when you say we don't always know the reasons people are as they are. Never judge, you don't know what someone might have gone through. I wish you well and hope the good guy you mentioned doesn't give up too easily.
zanelle, I believe that living with an unstable person, whether it be an alcoholic or someone with untreated issues, can absolutely create an issue for you. Look at the children that are raised by these people. I don't know about that memory pill, though. Who knows what it could erase by "mistake". Makes me shudder but of course, I'm not that trusting. :0)
I like the ending! We can make others feel comfortable and safe by being fair and honest and just well...decent and civilized. Why not? It's the right thing to do- and we would want to be treated the same way.

I did not think that I live in any sort of fear but once when some men that I knew where doing some handy-man stuff around my house, I was looking down working on something on my porch and when I looked up one of the men was standing closer to me and it caught me off guard- and I gasped. He was a someone that I could trust, and he was only close to me for work related reasons but that slight sense of fear and my response taught me something about myself and where I was at - at that moment in my life.
Brianna, we are all different, which makes me wonder about some of this therapy they propose. "Relive your trauma until you can control your reaction to it." or some kind of thing. It might work for some people, but I'd rather do the talk stuff.

tai, it's the little things, isn't it, that take you by surprise. And I really try to let people see me as a safe zone, unless they inadvertently push the anger button, anyway. I have to work on that one, still. But even then, it's more about respect and boundaries than about getting even.
[r] phyllis, so glad to read this. I am seeing us as a PTSD nation considering the horrors at a mass level right now. With the wars, the prison industrial complex, the economic terrorism being inflicted on us thanks to our own government. The national family is profoundly dysfunctional. No responsibility for humanity. No "ability to respond". The war on empathy has been raging for so long, now. Especially the 30 years after Reagan.

Then there are those of us who got a mighty helping of trauma and I am talking SUSTAINED trauma as children and young adults. I think you may be describing something called "complex-PTSD" which has to do with this sustained trauma which is PTSD on steroids I feel since it has to do with a sense of hopeless and never-ending captivity in living with and trying to process such horror with the additional helpless horror of not escaping said horrifying situation and condition. I self-diagnose myself with that one, and recovery ... well, is it possible? Or do we make the best in coping with and understanding it at best, since our emotional hard wiring happened so ferociously and in such a cruel and ongoing way when we were so young and vulnerable. We are survivors. We did what we needed to do to survive and our defense mechanisms way back when are now our prisons.

I relate to an overreaction to danger in trusting others. I relate to avoiding rather than testing.

This is true for all people, taking risks and fear, but those with PTSD and complex-PTSD, well, those without them, have absolutely no idea!

best, libby
Hi, Libby. Isn't being a child in a dysfunctional family strange? It was for me because, to me, that was normal. One way at home, another way in public, and never knowing when a bomb would go off. No control over anything. And a firm belief that, once I was an adult, things would magically occur- I'd get the college, job, husband, house, family- because that's how things worked according to my Dad. No point in working towards a goal because if you didn't know that right people then it would never happen. At the same time, believing that great tings were destined to fall into my lap. Weirdness all around.

Somewhere, though, I got the inner strength to stand up for myself against all comers, including my older sister and the rapists. I have a real distaste for injustice.

Thanks for stopping by.