Friday, 19 November 2010

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Despite comments like those on my previous post displaying a complete lack of understanding of my situation and that of other PTSD victims in general, I'll provide a more detailed and descriptive list of what has changed recently for the handful of people who actually do give a damn and want to understand it. I'll be using DSM-IV, as summarized at Wikipedia:

First of all, let me establish firmly that in my case one can't talk of post-traumatic in as much as that the traumatic events aren't all over yet. I am suffering from what is called PTSD, but not all of the factors contributing to it have been removed as of yet, most particularly the medical factor, which is characterized by intense rejection without proper reasoning and a general feeling of being abandoned and unimportant. The existence of this factor most strongly contributes to a worsening of my general situation.

Anyway, here are criteria A through F in DSM-IV:

"A: Exposure to traumatic event"
Check, check, and continuing, with new traumatic experiences (noticable by me going into shock and such) being added almost weekly. The experience of asking for help and being coldly rejected being the primary event, combined with that of experiencing rape as secondary event.

"B: Persistent re-experiencing"
Strong and continuous flashbacks: constantly, mostly during the day, sometimes during dreams. They tend to completely overtake my sensory perception for a moment.
Recurring distressing dreams: I have described a few of such dreams on my blog before, and I seem to wake up from a not remembered nightmare on a regular basis.
Subjective re-experiencing of the traumatic event(s): together with flashbacks this is very common. Flashbacks come uninvited, re-experiencing is usually when my thoughts accidentally drift off into regions of such memories.
Intense negative psychological or physiological response to any objective or subjective reminder of the traumatic event(s): my worst issue by far. Anything related to sexuality, relationships, transsexuality, intersexuality, certain areas of medical science and some others contain a lot of triggers which cause such a severely negative response in me, leading to me feeling unwell or downright sickened (physically) and collapsing. This has been worsening lately.

"C: Persistent avoidance and emotional numbing"
I avoid any thoughts or feelings related to the events, I don't like talking about it, preferring a rational, factual discourse over discussing my emotional state. I avoid behaviours, places and people which do or may lead to distressing memories and/or feelings. I can not actively recall or passively remember large sections of what happened to me during my rape, or during more recent traumatic events, and where I can recall it, there's a distinct absence of emotional recollection.
My capacity to feel certain feelings is numbed to absent. I actively suppress some, others I simply can not experience at all. This has been worsening as of late.
I think that my previous post and many preceding it are sufficient proof of an expectation that my future is constrained in ways not normal to other people. This is where many, or maybe I should say most, people fail to grasp my situation most of all. I feel that this is why most people do not realize that resolving especially the medical stand-off is crucial, that there is no possibility of just 'moving on', and that this is the primary source of suicidal thoughts. It is also increasing in severity most strongly as of late.

"D: Persistent symptoms of increased arousal not present before."
A random reading through my blog posts the past two years should suffice to show the trend in this area. It has worsened considerably. Sleeplessness, insomnia, unusually strong outbursts of anger and sadness or grief, periods of paranoia, lack of concentration and strongly shifting moods in general leading to irrational displays of emotions.

"E: Duration of symptoms for more than one month"
I think one can safely say that I have been experiencing these symptoms for well over three years now.

"F: Significant impairment"
I quote: "The symptoms reported must lead to "clinically significant distress or impairment" of major domains of life activity, such as social relations, occupational activities, or other "important areas of functioning"."

I think that's another set of check marks.

The assumption often made by those who do not understand PTSD is that those affected have some kind of choice in their behaviours and general life. They clearly demonstrate ignorance on what a trauma entails, let alone something of the severity of PTSD. PTSD in particular is known to physically affect and change the brain itself:


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