As I have written in another post, “Roots of PTSD, Codependency and Addiction“, I was sober for 33 years before my PTSD emerged. I think I was lucky to have such a strong support system when I had the courage to face my fears.
1. From the New York Times, a tragedy that didn’t have to happen about a soldier, David Senft, who had had prior difficulties:
“A gentle snow fell on the funeral of Staff Sgt. David Senft at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 16, when his bitterly divided California family came together to say goodbye. His 5-year-old son received a flag from a grateful nation.”
“But his father, also named David Senft, an electrician from Grass Valley, Calif., who had worked in Afghanistan for a military contractor, is convinced that his son committed suicide, as are many of his friends and family members and the soldiers who served with him.”
“The evidence appears overwhelming. An investigator for the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division, which has been looking into the death, has told Sergeant Senft’s father by e-mail that his son was found dead with a single bullet hole in his head, a stolen M-4 automatic weapon in his hands and his body slumped over in the S.U.V., which was parked outside the air base’s ammunition supply point. By his side was his cellphone, displaying a text message with no time or date stamp, saying only, “I don’t know what to say, I’m sorry.” (Mr. Senft shared the e-mails from the C.I.D. investigator with The New York Times.) ”
“With Sergeant Senft, the warning signs were blaring.”
“The Army declared him fit for duty and ordered him to Afghanistan after he had twice attempted suicide at Fort Campbell, Ky., and after he had been sent to a mental institution near the base, the home of the 101st. After his arrival at Kandahar early in 2010 he was so troubled that the Army took away his weapon and forced him into counseling on the air base, according to the e-mails from the Army investigator. But he was assigned a roommate who was fully armed. C.I.D. investigators have identified the M-4 with which Sergeant Senft was killed as belonging to his roommate.”
“I question why, if he was suicidal and they had to take away his gun, why was he allowed to stay in Afghanistan?” asked Sergeant Senft’s father. “Why did they allow him to deploy in the first place, and why did they leave him there?”
2. Most people think of PTSD as happening only to people who have been in extreme circumstances, such as war veterans. However, in her book Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence–from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror (1997) Judith Herman describes a subtype of PTSD she calls complex post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
3. Clinical psychologist Dr Joseph M Carver, PhD, who has a number of great articles on his website says in an online discussion that, “Every victim of abuse experiences some, if not multiple, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Carver writes:
[T]hese symptoms linger many years; some for a lifetime. Everyone knows this but it’s rarely bought up…During our period of abuse, the brain collects thousands of memories that contain details of our abusive experiences and the feelings (horror, terror, pain, etc.) made at that time. In what we call “traumatic recollection,” any similar experience in the future will recall the emotional memory of the abuse, forcing us to relive the event in detail and feeling.
4. From PTSD Alliance:
PTSD is a complex disorder that often is misunderstood. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD, but many people do.
MYTH: PTSD only affects war veterans.
FACT: Although PTSD does affect war veterans, PTSD can affect anyone. Almost 70 percent of Americans will be exposed to a traumatic event in their lifetime. Of those people, up to 20 percent will go on to develop PTSD. An estimated one out of 10 women will develop PTSD at sometime in their lives.
Victims of trauma related to physical and sexual assault face the greatest risk of developing PTSD. Women are about twice as likely to develop PTSD as men, perhaps because women are more likely to experience trauma that involves these types of interpersonal violence, including rape and severe beatings. Victims of domestic violence and childhood abuse also are at tremendous risk for PTSD.
MYTH: People should be able to move on with their lives after a traumatic event. Those who can’t cope are weak.
FACT: Many people who experience an extremely traumatic event go through an adjustment period following the experience. Most of these people are able to return to leading a normal life. However, the stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including mental, emotional and physical well-being. Research suggests that prolonged trauma may disrupt and alter brain chemistry. For some people, a traumatic event changes their views about themselves and the world around them. This may lead to the development of PTSD.
MYTH: People suffer from PTSD right after they experience a traumatic event.
FACT: PTSD symptoms usually develop within the first three months after trauma but may not appear until months or years have passed. These symptoms may continue for years following the trauma or, in some cases, symptoms may subside and reoccur later in life, which often is the case with victims of childhood abuse.
Some people don’t recognize that they have PTSD because they may not associate their current symptoms with past trauma. In domestic violence situations, the victim may not realize that their prolonged, constant exposure to