PTSD Support Groups on Facebook

On Facebook, there are several PTSD Support Groups. I was quite impressed with the intensity and the genuine support given to each other no matter what a person maybe going through at the time.  Several topics include “Is there a cure?”, “What is the difference between PTSD from abuse and veteran ptsd?” , “What medications work best? Will it work for me- it is making me feel weird.”

One person was in crisis mode and the administration stepped in and privately contacted them with specific options for the person to get help as soon as possible.

Administration has also deleted inappropriate comments, some that concerned religious comments that made the person feel much worse then when they posted their original comment. The administrator has dealt wit  PTSD for many years and knows the ins and outs.

The posts are often given a “Trigger Warning” in the heading, knowing that fellow supporters may feel triggered by details in the post.

There are different kinds of PTSD, from childhood physical or sexual abuse, veteran combat, trauma, accidents, disasters, fires, loss of loved ones. But the symptoms are consistent which may or may not include fight or flight response, night terrors, depression, social anxiety, general anxiety. One may feel that the safety net that one felt in life has now disappeared and another tragedy lies just around the corner. Often a combination of face-to-face therapy and medications can help heal a person. Therapy through service dogs can work wonders. However, there is no cure for PTSD. I myself have had it all my life. You learn to live with the disorder, learn to spot the triggers. You learn to take care of yourself. You CAN live a happy life with a fulfilling job and family.

I found these groups to be generally an enormous help for people dealing with these issues. You can see that you are not struggling alone. Trouble is there are not that many therapists ( at least when I was hunting for one), who specialize in PTSD therapy and this is a welcome resource!

 

 

PTSD Survivors of Child Abuse and Healing

Adults can recover from PTSD resulting from child abuse.  Some survivors don’t know they have a highly recognizable and treatable anxiety disorder called PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which has been associated with Vietnam Vets, the Holocaust, mass murders, natural disasters, rape, kidnapping, accidents, torture and other extraordinary happenings.We are naturally dependent upon parents as infants and children. Children depend upon parents or guardians for safety. But when that sense of safety is betrayed, coping mechanisms develop such as dissociation. This allows for survival, but later as adults, symptoms such as hyper-vigilance, anxiety and the numbness of feelings permeate, hindering normal relationships. But healing can happen when one is put into a safe environment to explore feelings. Immense feelings of anger and betrayal of the injustice may erupt, profound sadness for a time, but in the end, one can breakthrough and for once live in reality and be happy.

“It is the emotional and psychological setting in which sexual maltreatment occurs, and with whom it has occurred, that makes the difference and causes lasting damage” states an article by the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. Children’s natural helplessness is turned into terror when abused by a parent. In a normal household when a trauma occurs like a car accident, the parent is there for support, comfort and love. When the source of trauma is within the family, there is an absence of healing. Children learn to pretend they are somewhere else to endure the trauma which is called dissociation. They blame themselves for their parents’ not loving them. They believe that they are not good enough to be loved. Their self-esteem plummets. They freeze feelings.

“When a victim or survivor is disbelieved, shamed, threatened into silence, or when the disclosure is minimized or becomes cause for punishment, the trauma inflicted by willful ignorance compounds the original trauma.” Protective numbing, denial on the child’s part becomes a survival skill. However, as the child grows into an adult, if not dealt with, “it is destined to be re-enacted” in other relationships.

Survivors minimize abuse for years on end until one day a trigger may happen and the psyche is ready to unearth the wounds of yesteryear. Now in a safe place to feel the feelings which may come on as a tidal wave of grief. But when the losses are fully mourned, the trauma losses its power.

PTSD & Resilience

What makes one soldier suffer from PTSD and another one not have symptoms? Why do some people never recover from catastrophic grief while others do?

In the movie “What Dreams May Come” with the late Robin Williams, a physician dies in a car crash and ascends into heaven, his distraught wife commits suicide and descends into hell or Hades. The physician embarks on an epic journey to save his wife.  He descends into hell.  This is based on the presumption that we create our own hells and heaven with our own thoughts and memories (a theme in the Tibetan Book of the Dead as well). The couple had lost both of their children in a tragic car accident-the father was able to carry on through focusing on work, but the mother had much difficulty moving forward.  When she looses the love of her life, she commits suicide.

Why is it that some can carry on through immeasurable grief and others break down and can no longer function? How can one be resilient?

An article called Trauma, PTSD and Reliance by Christine E Agaibi,  http://tva.sagepub.com , states that “Theoretical models of  PTSD have established that there is a wide range of outcomes in how persons cope with traumatic experiences.”

Children cope more effectively with adversity if they receive nurturing and love, even those children exposed to chronic stress such as war trauma, refugee status, civil violence and extreme poverty. Self-esteem and self-confidence help protect against traumatic experiences.

A study of former prisoners of war and veterans, examined PTSD symptoms and they found that the greater the torture and weight loss experienced while imprisoned, the greater the PTSD symptoms. They noted that pre-military trauma, personality, age, and post-military social support determined the severity of the PTSD symptoms.

“To understand the plasticity of behavior in response to traumatic life events, it is necessary to recognize the multidimensional nature of traumatic experiences. Traumas are not equal in their impact to the psyche and vary greatly in their stressor dimensions. “

Support of others, childhood, pre-existing conditions, self-esteem, assertiveness, personality, intelligence, use of left brain and right brain and other cognitive styles, all play parts in how one survives and reacts to grief and trauma and whether they are vulnerable to PTSD or pathological disorders such as dissociative disorder.

Robin Williams retrieves his wife from hell through his love. She in the end decides to no longer blame herself for the death of her children, the hell she created, and to let go. She loves herself enough now and she loves her husband. She chooses to join her husband in heaven.

What is truly ironic about this film, is the late Robin Williams, who tragically committed suicide in real life. Perhaps his risk factors where far too high even for his magnificent creative mind to transcend, for he was battling both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Chance

I am a bit confused and disappointed when I see how mental issues are portrayed on television. There is a new series out on Hulu which offers hope, however. Hugh Laurie who once played the despicable Dr. House is now playing one quite different, a compassionate if not perplexed neuropsychiatrist. Chance is plagued by an attractive patient with “multiple personality” or dissociative disorder. I wonder how it is going to play out. In other series, I have come to feel that perhaps society is afraid of mental illness- to portray it accurately.

In the series Homeland for instance, Brody one of the main characters, definitely has PTSD, yet there is hardly a mention of it nor any therapy given to him when he arrives home from being a POW in Iraq. He has in fact what doctors call PTSD with DID or Dissociative Identity Disorder. As a soldier he was taken prisoner, suffered repeated beatings and unspeakable torture. He takes on a terrorist persona in order to survive the ordeal but he never relinquished the persona even when he comes home, and is celebrated as a hero in the United States. The results are devastating for the country and himself.

In Mr. Robot, Elliot struggles with his persona of his late father who tried to kill him as a young man. He is a vigilante hacker starting a revolution against corporate America. His “father” tells him how to do it. In a talk show after the 1st episode, Elliot is described as having an overactive imagination and anti-social. Really? On twitter it was tweeted about the potential  surprise you get when you figure out all of the characters are dissociative personalities of Elliott! In this case, the audience may know best!

Drama and comedy have been a way that society talks to itself about difficult issues. The Wire, Archie Bunker in the 60s, Roots are some that come to mind. Why can’t we be real about mental health issues? Dr. Chance’s philosophy is that in every situation there is hope. I say let’s give Chance, a chance.

TRUMP AND PTSD

Donald Trump And PTSD: PTSD Is Not A Sign Of Weakness Says June Sitler, Author Of Newly Released Book About PTSD, ‘Fugue’

[Wilmington, NC, October 12, 2016] PTSD can take many forms. When one hears Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the image of a Vietnam Vet comes to mind. However, many people from all walks of life may suffer from this disorder. They are the survivors. They can be people who live in the inner city, those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, survivors of childhood trauma in adulthood, or a man or woman after a divorce. Or they can be witnesses, rescuers or survivors of catastrophic events. They can have reactive depression and even a dissociative disorder.

One thing PTSD is not – it is not a sign of weakness. J.P. Sitler, author of ‘Fugue’ believes just the opposite.

Donald Trump recently addressed military veterans in Herndon, Va., and suggested those who develop post-traumatic stress disorder are not strong and cannot handle combat. Sitler responded by declaring that this statement illustrates how profoundly some of us can misunderstand PTSD.

As an author of a book about PTSD, called ‘Fugue’, she found that PTSD is in fact a survival skill, that kicks in psychologically to endure horrific events that otherwise would completely overwhelm an individual when one’s life is vitally threatened. It is a failure to scream, if you will. A numbing of senses. Doctors, nurses and first responders often at least once in their career, experience an episode of PTSD.

Statistics show about 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones experience PTSD. An additional 20 to 25 percent have had partial PTSD at some point in their lives. More than half of all male Vietnam veterans and almost half of all female Vietnam veterans have experienced ‘clinically serious stress reaction symptoms.’ Current estimates of PTSD in military personnel who served in Iraq range from 12% to 20%.

Anthropologist and neuroscientist Melvin Konner in his collection Understanding Trauma sees PTSD not as a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. He wrote that it could be possible that our common generalized anxiety disorders are an evolutionary legacy, a way to adapt in a wilderness full of fear, fight or flight.

In a A Huffington Post column, it was stated that Donald Trump’s comments on Veteran suicide are exactly why there is a PTSD stigma. Sitler responded by stating that Trump tried to back-pedal his argument saying his remarks were taken out of context. We need only to look back a bit to his his comments on Sen. John McCain’s time as a prisoner of war, stating that he is not an American hero. His true colors shine through once again. Sitler goes on to say Trump could be envious of Sen. John McCain and of other veterans because he was deferred from military service due to his flat feet. The weakness actually lies within Trump. She asks do we really want an American President who feels the need to compensate for his weaknesses, playing out on the world stage?

In the storyline in ‘Fugue’, the protagonist Nathan is handsomely rugged, linear and computer savvy. His perfect world however, is falling apart at the seams, his job, his relationships, all because he has lost his sense of time. It is a tale about three childhood friends and all the manifestations of love and its consequences. In a catastrophic drowning accident, Nathan fails to save abeloved friend from childhood. Readers witness Nathan’s struggle with his needle sharp emotional pain made palpable through anger, denial and fear. Through deep hypnosis, Nathan begins to find answers.

Some of the Fugue characters include a narcissistic mother, a greedy metrosexual pharmaceutical lawyer, a Naval officer suffering from PSTD, a beautiful girl with a secret and a smart logical young man struggling with emotional issues. Many appear to be living lives of perfection but only in degrees of sanity.

The book has received rave reviews from readers. One said, “This is really original and a totally brilliant read . . . I can’t recommend it highly enough.” Another stated, “J. Sitler moves the reader quickly through an intriguing psychological tale of past trauma and its sustaining impact on the present.” Another said, “Sitler’s FUGUE reminds me that PTSD is not relegated to the military experience. Readers may identify their own fugue experiences not as severe as in Nathan, the main character, but it will be therapeutic. I know it was for me.”

J. P. Sitler is available for media interviews and can be reached using the information below or by email at junesitler6@gmail.com. ‘Fugue’ is available at Amazon and other book retailers. More information is available at her website at http://www.junesitlerauthor.net.

About J. P. Sitler:

J. P. Sitler is the author of numerous op-ed articles for The Nashville Eye of The Tennessean, which include Appearances Are Deceiving, AIDS and Grace and PTSD. Fugue is her first novel. She is a northern transplant living with her husband Dr. Vaughan in an empty nest filled with high-drive canines and opinionated cats in a sleepy southern town. She is a survivor of 31 surgeries, lived seven years on the largest, longest existing American commune, was a medical transcriptionist, and is now a teacher and novelist.

Contact:

J. P. Sitler

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sitlerjune6@gmail.com