Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Why My Situation Is Little Different From Physical Torture

A few moments ago I had a brief email-exchange involving sex-reassignment surgery. This brief exchange contained sufficient triggers to make me feel warm/cold and to develop a sensation of hurt, of wanting to get away from it, to forget about it as it was hurting me and I had to get away from something that unpleasant. Last night I was communicating with the German surgeon who I'll meet next week. During our email exchange I experienced something similar.

The reason for this isn't so hard, of course. I got a lot of traumatic disorders which are bound to make me feel horrible when I'm reminded of something unpleasant which for me is almost with everything at this point. It's only the extent to which it makes me feel horrible which differs, like how getting slapped in the face isn't nearly as painful as getting punched in the face. There are gradations in emotional pain. Yet how far does this pain go?

According to a fairly recent study [1] there is no distinct difference between emotional and physical pain, making the pain experienced by test subjects in this study equivalent regardless of whether its origin was emotional or physical (8/10 on the pain scale), with fMRI scans showing that the same brain areas are activated. Short conclusion is that experiencing emotional pain, whether it's from a break-up or traumatic experiences is virtually the same as experiencing physical pain. Hereby the gradations play a role, of course.

This brings me back to the title of this post. Thanks to the whole host of traumas I have experienced and still am experiencing combined with the constant triggering of those traumas because I have to keep re-experiencing them while I fight my way out of the situation I was forced into. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I also have, is characterized by the amygdala [2] basically going crazy as the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are unable to regulate it down [3]. This leads to an extreme emotional response, which also leads to very painful memories and experiences being remembered or imagined.

To briefly summarize it, what I experience on a daily basis is no different from experiencing severe physical pain. It's been over five years since I began to suffer from PTSD. During that time the emotional distress has increased and increased. Day in. Day out. With regular shocks: rapid increases in this distress. Suffering chronic pain can drive one to insanity and suicide as the pain keeps gnawing at him, without any respite or relief. Euthanasia is the preferred option by terminally ill people suffering from chronic pain, such as during the final stages of cancer.

I can feel the pain gnawing at me. Deep inside, where I can't reach it. During moments of what one could term insanity I find myself hitting my head as hard as possible. To drown out the pain inside it. To try to end the pain. It's always there, never giving me much respite. I never got used to it, I just learned to endure it.

If someone gets beaten up on a daily basis, people would obviously consider this to be a heinous act and demand to stop it. Why would it be any different when the victim is suffering from severe emotional pain? The fMRIs say that it's the same thing to the person in question, meaning that to the victim there is no difference except for the presence or lack thereof of physical injuries.

Meanwhile, today I'm also suffering yet again from a strong pain in my right knee, as a result from the physical beating I received at the hands of the Dutch police. The foot is numb, with occasional stinging pain. The knee area is almost unbearably sore and painful to the touch. The pain from this kind of blurs together with the emotional pain.

I guess I literally am limping along now, both physically and emotionally, while hoping for salvation...


[1] http://articles.latimes.com/2011/mar/29/news/la-heb-love-hurts-20110329
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-traumatic_stress_disorder#Neuroanatomy

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