How To Deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Part 1 - The Night After The Incident

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome | Source

I am a survivor of an assault incident. I was blessed and lucky to be alive. But the incident left a scar that I have to live through my life. I had to go through post traumatic stress disorder.

I was already cleared by my psychiatrist more than a year ago. It was three months to my medication and three months from the incident. She even remarked that I had a remarkable recovery. I owe my recovery to medication, family support and time away from the stress of life.

Yes, because of the incident, I had to think for my self and my own well-being that I decided to resign from my work. I thought at that time that if I will squeeze in my recovery amidst my career, I will go literally crazy. So my work took a back seat, a decision which I had no regrets at all.

Recounting what happened is now a bit easy for me. But you cannot choose to erase bad memories of your experience. Although the recall now is not that pronounced as compared to the night of the incident, I still have some recurring symptoms which I am now prepared to deal with.

Dealing with it is a deliberate choice. My other option is to be a victim. But you don't have to be a victim because this is a case where many scientific studies have proven results. I chose to side with knowledge.

Being away from work and focusing on my recovery, I had all the time to myself. It was then that I started my journal. I was writing how I felt that day. I jotted down my thoughts and things to do. I recorded my doubts and my sought information of confirming them. Before I realized, more than a year has already passed.


Symptoms: The Night After The Incident

I felt okay. Or I thought I was. I had nothing to worry because I was alive. The operation on my left hand went successful. Now I only have to nurse the wound. The doctor told me that after it heals, I had to go through physical therapy to make my hands operate normally. The good news is that no nerve was severed by the deep cut between my thumb and point finger. I endured this to protect my neck from being slashed by the criminal. I only had to stay a few nights in the hospital and I can continue my recovery at home. So things, I thought, were okay.

In modern hospitals nowadays, the more specialists you have attending to you the better. Aside from the hand specialist and the anesthesiologist that administered my operation , I had a gynecologist, a legal doctor and a psychiatrist attending to my case in less than a week. The gynecologist had to make sure I was not raped. The legal doctor, a doctor that is also a lawyer, will make the report on my case should a criminal case will be filed against the assailant. I was taken aback when I was informed that I needed to see a psychiatrist. I am not crazy. The assault incident that happened to me was no crazy joke. Only crazy people go to psychiatrist. The only reason I agreed to it is that I needed a professional to testify that I am not insane.

I was already prepared when the psychiatrist came to his appointed rounds. He was calm and very reassuring. He asked me if I was able to sleep. I told him I didn't have a good night sleep because I was minding the pain. The wound in my hand was extremely painful and no pain reliever or ice pack was able to alleviate it. Then he told me, I have all the symptoms. Symptoms for what? He hasn't even seen me once then he already has this conclusion about me. This was making me anxious. The last thing I want was to be diagnosed with some mental illness. The thought of being ostracized by the society was not a good idea.

He told me that I had 1) difficulty of falling or staying asleep, 2) gets easily startled, 3) flashback or recall of the incident with intense physical reaction and 4) avoiding reminders of the trauma. I had the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Believe me, it was my first time to encounter such a word and I was the one being diagnosed. How can he know all this?

I was thankful for the health plan our company provided because I was able to check-in one of the state-of-the-art hospitals in the metro. One feature they had was a CCTV monitoring camera placed in the rooms. Objectively, the psychiatrist was able to observe my condition.

Bad Dreams
Bad Dreams | Source

Difficulty of Falling or Staying Asleep

Aside from the unbearable pain that the operation in my left hand had brought me, I didn't want to sleep until the night was over. Deliberately, I was keeping myself and my companion awake all the time because I was fearful of the dark outside. I was thinking that because of that darkness the criminal had its way of making the incident happen. My only recourse was to see the light of day to assure me of my safety.

Indeed, when I saw the glimpse of light at dawn with my exhausted body, I was calm to take my sleep for a few hours.

Gets Easily Startled

I can get this effect with caffeine only. But not the level and intensity after the assault incident. I get startled when someone opened the room's entrance door, when someone opened the comfort room door, when something fell into the ground, when there's a flutter in the curtains, when something creaked in the wall and all other small details which previously I didn't mind. All my receptors were heightened and my peripheral vision widened in anticipation or in preparation of something.

One feature of the hospital room I was in was a curtain to cover the entrance door. The curtain provided me the delay of being immediately startled because I can hear and see someone's coming. All the while with the delay I was always on guard.

Flashback of the Incident

The night after the incident, the anxiety was building up as the time draws near to the very same time the incident happened. I was becoming anxious, unsettled and tense. Although I tried to remind myself that I am within safe premises, I was overwhelmed by the trauma I faced. I was like reliving the moment in my head bit by bit, detail by detail and account by account. I found myself crying. I was asking the people around me to help me bear the fear within the hour it happenened.

It was the most excruciatingly uncomfortable moment of my life. I was rocking back and forth in my hospital bed. I was rubbing my feet against the sheets. I was gnashing my teeth while crying and mumbling details I could remember of the incident. It was an episode of panic attacks.

Avoiding Reminders of the Trauma

Right after the incident, I didn't want to see or be reminded of all the things that were in my house where the incident happened. Vividly in my mind I tried to forget the image of my suitcases, my clothes, the furniture, the curtains and even the toiletries that I used in the bathroom that night. I was ordering my office mates to give away all the things I had in my rented house.

Even going to the hospital bathroom scared me because I could remember myself taking a bath before the incident happened. It is like a pattern in my head was formed that whenever a situation fits to the event before the incident, I would conclude that the same thing will happen again.

Road To Recovery
Road To Recovery | Source

Road To Recovery

The most important decision I made in my life was to be subjected to the psychiatrist's expertise. If it were not for him, I would be a total wreck by now. The stress is real and it was overwhelming me. The effect of trauma on someone is psychologically and emotionally damaging. I was thankful I was drawn away from that.

The psychiatrist immediately prescribed medication for my recovery. He gave me anti-depressant, a sleeping pill and another drug that I later found out was reserved for acute seizure and sedation. The first night I took his medication (the anti-depressant and sleeping pill) was utterly different than the first night after the incident. Details will be posted in How To Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Part 2 - The Week After.

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Comments 29 comments

kerlynb profile image

kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

Read your hub from start to finish and I'm now looking forward to Part 2.

Wow, I can't help but be proud of you. I mean, the will and courage to write down what "it" was like do not come in easily. People tend to be in denial and to avoid facing the truth. You inspire me, really.

Hope to read Part 2 soon.

gaurimayur profile image

gaurimayur 5 years ago from Melbourne

Great article, and i can see that you have written it with the utmost honesty. I look forward to part 2, really.

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

Thank you very much kerlynb for reading my hub. It took me more than a year to finally write it down. I have kept all the details in my journal. Writing for me was comforting because since that incident it was like I was bombarded with feelings, emotions and information. It was overwhelming. Writing in my journal sort of made me focus on one thing at a time slowly. If it were not for my immediate recovery, I would still be in denial and would not have written this down. PTSD stresses out not only the individual but the family and the close people around the person. Most people would be curious of the incident itself but the worst thing the victim can face is not the incident itself but the trauma after. That is when he/she will try to get his / her life and confidence to live back. This is when support is much needed.

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

gaurimayur, thank you for reading my hub. it's different from the articles I have read about PTSD. they only tell you of the generic information. it is different when seen from the first person point of view. my aim here is only for a deeper understanding of people who have PTSD. part 2 will be out soon.

travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

I'm glad you open it up here on HubPages. At first, I was ashamed to share it with others. Being secretive is part of my many masks in life.

Little by little, I am feeling more inspired to reinvent myself because others are doing it, too.

Thanks for sharing.

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

@travel_man1971... i too am a sucker for "secrets". it depends on the person's comfort level. and we respect that boundary. as for me, i could talk about PTSD and my recovery very openly. i could even joke about it (part 2 and part 3 of this series have some comic relief). but sometimes i cannot stand talking about the details of the assault incident. it is still creeping me out. if you could notice, i am just breezing through information about it. i am not delving into details. in hindsight, you have done pretty well for yourself... so no need to be ashamed. congrats!

H.C Porter profile image

H.C Porter 5 years ago from Lone Star State

Your writing reminds me of how I write about a violent experience in my life. General overview of point of interest with very little detail between the lines. I think writing this way is therapeutic, without making ourselves completely vulnerable. thanks for writing this hub- very nicely done! vote up and awesome!

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

@h.c. porter. it's an honor having you visiting my hub. and to to comment at that? very much appreciated. yes, it is very therapeutic. i really appreciate the people who support and understand this case (comments are positive and reassuring). however, having put out an article like this and very personal at that makes me vulnerable too. i don't know what people would think of me. esp when i already mention stuff like "psychiatrist". but that is what i would like to dispel. not all people who subscribe to a psychiatrist are crazy people esp with PTSD. and if people who have PTSD cannot recover from grave trauma incident, it will affect them all throughout their life. i knew someone here who was a "hold-up" victim. it's been years already. but she has difficulty going out of their house, gets jittery in hearing small noises. in my opinion, there's a better way of coping. anyway, thanks for the vote-up. can't thank you enough.

thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 5 years ago from West Virginia

All votes except funny. OMG, my dear. I am glad you didn't let this incident bring you down. I know you don't want know pitty cause you are strong although, I am sorry you had to go through this. It is the perfect example how one event can have the opportunity to bring you down for the rest of your life. I shall read the rest.

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

thanks @thelyricwriter! we gotta live our life and there's no way but up. thanks you very much for understanding. it was the past and i was glad i was able to recover from it. my inspiration was other people i know who have been through the rigors of life (scarred, bruised and betrayed) yet were able to overcome them. mine was nothing compared to what they have been through.

tirelesstraveler 5 years ago

PTSD is real and needs to be understood. Thanks for explaining it well.

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

thanks tirelesstraveler! even myself and my family was learning then. it was a roller coaster ride not only for me but also for them. that is why i am conveying here the experience so that understanding will be afforded to those who would be in the same situation. thanks for dropping by and reading my hub.

LisaKoski profile image

LisaKoski 5 years ago from WA

This hub is amazing and informative. Thanks so much for sharing your story

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

thanks Lizakoski for dropping by. glad that you have found it informative. i wanted people to understand the difficulty especially the first few nights of the trauma. some people may have a different experience but in some ways, we may have a common ground. hope this will help not only the person with PTSD but also those people who care for them. thank you for leaving your comment.

JenJen0703 profile image

JenJen0703 5 years ago from Cereal City U.S.A.

PTSD is a difficult disorder to manage. I have been struggling with PTSD for many years. It never goes away and has affected many areas of my life. I have learned to live with it in ways to avoid it, but when it rears its ugly head, I deal with it the best way I know how. Voted up! Looking forward to reading more of your articles.

JenJen0703 profile image

JenJen0703 5 years ago from Cereal City U.S.A.

Also, I recommend you go back and do a spell check on you article. You write from the heart, and I can feel your emotions. But, you need to tweak your article in a couple of places for grammar and spelling. It will improve the quality of your hub.

Daniella Lopez profile image

Daniella Lopez 5 years ago from Arkansas

Great hub. You've gone through so much and have survived. You're someone to look up to. Good luck on your continued recovery and blessed be.

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

@JenJen0703, i agree. it is difficult to manage. i even had to sacrifice my relationship with friends because that was the only way i could reclaim myself. i needed to trust myself first, before i could trust others. in a way, i took a respite (not in a Hollywood posh way respite. i stayed at home, i busied myself with the things i had been longing to do) after the incident. i took away all the stress drivers in my life. even my work took a back seat. my family did not understand at first what i was doing. we had bouts and arguments about it. almost ripped us apart. but gald it turned out better this way. thank you very much for voting this article up. as you know, i have no experience in writing content for online. hubpages was my first venture into a larger audience. that is why, i was writing without considering SEO stuff. in fact this series was the first articles i have written in hupages. so i am just pouring out my emotions. noted on your comments. i will get back on it for improvement. thank you very much for your concern.

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

Blessed be, Daniella Lopez. i am just glad being able to share the lessons having gone through this. at least in some way, i want to empower people that if they are suffering from it, they should not be afraid to admit and ask for help. imagine the trauma? if at all that could be kept as a secret. imagine the stigma of seeing a therapist? that is the last thing on one's bucket list. but if we are to consider having a fruitful, meaningful life, we will reclaim it in anyway we know how and we know better. Blessed be!

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Good Morning, Dear anjperez,

I found you and this piece through HH this morning.

You have not only survived, you have thrived from an unimaginable horror. You were wise enough to know that work needed to take a back seat/ that you are #1 in your healing and recovery, for as long as that takes. There is no timetable for trauma and you have no obligation to share any details you are not comfortable with.

Twelve years later, I finally don't freak out on 'anniversary days'; I still don't sleep great but the nightmares have been replaced with sweet memories of my current life. I offer you a huge cyber hug. You are here for a reason, writing is a gift and a salvation for you.

Have a peaceful day and take care always, Maria

missolive profile image

missolive 5 years ago from Texas

anjperez - I commend you on writing this. You have traveled an amazing journey and have been able to enlighten us with the reality of PTSD. May its grip continue to slip away from you into a faint memory.

Wishing you peace and joy - MissOlive / Marisa

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

a big cyberhug to you, too, marcoujor. leaving my work was the best decision i took. life is much better. way better than imaginable. if i did not do it, i know i will be depressed most of the time. although my life is not that perfect, but at least i only deal with things i can handle. glad that i no longer freak out. my recovery was great and i have alot of people to thank for it. Have a nice day, too!

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

missolive, in a way by writing in hubpages was a manifestation that i was completely over the incident. i can comfortably talk about it. glad that while I am on my recovery, I get to share how to deal with it. be able to help people. may this continue... Peace and Joy to you, too!

Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 5 years ago

Dear Anj ~ Slowly time will heal, especially with all the help and support you have been receiving. Your active journal helps so much to express the pain, fear and panic disorder. I trust you will be able to go on in health. Blessings, Debby

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

thank you, Debby! you are right! journaling helped me a lot. i am still writing. no more panic attacks. life is normal now. Cheers to a healthy life! Blessings to you, too!

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 5 years ago from North Carolina

I am so sorry you had to go through this. You are very strong and brave. Your courage to share your story is inspiring and I think you will help many by sharing your story. Well told!

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

thank you tammyswallow! it was a scary thing i wish it would not have happened. but glad it was over. so i am being extra careful now. a big lesson learned with that experience. i was amazed with the strength I had after the incident. i hope i am able to help people also. Thank you very much!

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kelleyward 5 years ago

PTSD is real and very much alive in lots of areas of trauma. I've read a lot about it and there are many great books out there! Starting easily is one of the not so obvious signs of PTSD thanks for point this out. Also looking forward to part 2!

anjperez profile image

anjperez 5 years ago Author

kelleyward, so glad you came by my hub. at least i have someone to check with in case something might come up. part 2 and 3 are embedded in the links i have provided in the hub. clinically, you have the knowledge, i only have my experience to share and only one facet of PTSD.

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