My Battle against Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
What makes a kid a sensible individual when grown up?
The best answer is good upbringing of the family, especially one's parents.
But when violent interlude disturbs the peace of the family as in war or accident, the normal disposition of an individual will be altered.
I've seen war veterans who come home with unstable thinking, recurring violent surge of emotions and drastic change in behavior.
An individual must face a traumatic event; for him/her to be diagnosed of having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
I had recurring dreams about the tragic events that happened in our place way back the 80s. The battle between the military men and the NPA (New People's Army) rebels drove us from our place. I've seen some residents died before my eyes when I was still in elementary. I was succumbed with fear and always woke up at night with those tragic scenes happening again and again. The sound of gunshots and hand grenades reverberated in my mind. My parents sent us to the city for school. This helped me forget those scary moments for awhile. I became engrossed with reading both fiction and nonfiction books. I think this helped me forget those things because I focused myself on other interesting subjects that will benefit me in the future. Battling the demons in my mind through self-healing made me whole again and totally forget those events in my childhood.
This kind of trauma is not only the wounds inflicted on one's body but of another kind. It delves on how our minds battle to keep ourselves sane after witnessing drastic events.
Fear lurks in my mind
When I faced that scary event in my life, it is but normal to react negatively on that tragic situation. I realized later that a sudden fear can abruptly heightened and increase activities of some of our hormones and its effect will be our being 'jumpy' when similar event happened.
I watched the news lately, most of them were violent ones, like the killings, sexual abuses, kidnapping and road accidents. These generate fear to the community or event to our country.
The terroristic activities that pose danger in our lives made some other countries fear us due to these illicit activities that mostly claim human lives without remorse. Have you heard those travel advisories against the Philippines, lately? I'm sure you did.
If we live in fear and we cannot battle it face to face, then we cannot move on. Just like what happened during the highly criticized tourist bus hostage-taking in Manila where 9 lives were wasted, mostly Hongkong nationals and the perpetrator itself. It promoted fear to us and the rest of the world, blacklisting our country as its aftermath.
Post-traumatic stress disorder has grown into a huge proportion. Even I can no longer travel alone in the dark without taking extra precaution in order to defend myself for fear that someone will harm or kill me. It was then that the events that happened during my childhood recurred to me in my dreams again. Although, in a subtle way, but the magnitude of fear is still the same.
My only way to release some of my fear is to tell other about it.
I became suspicious of everything. I don't want to close the light again at night, leaving it open when I sleep. When my dog barks at night outside the main door, I become attentive of the voices of people passing the road. We live near the highway, so I can hear the roar of vehicles passing or even the footsteps by walking persons at night. I become jumpy again.
Symptoms of Post-traumatic stress
Those who survived a tragic accident will face what I've felt ...the recurring dreams or the trauma. It is not inevitable to experience the following because our senses, hormones and entire body and mind are adjusting itself to lead us a normal life again through the following:
- Memory-recall-as if the event is happening again
- Bad dreams or nightmares
- Being jumpy against loud sounds or reactive with those making pranks or jokes at them
- Trembling and sweating excessively
- Difficulty of breathing due to fast beating of the heart
- Anxiety when recalling the event again
- Cannot supress his/her emotions that often lead to anger
- Cannot think properly
- Cannot sleep well
- Always guarding possible danger
- Numbness of emotion or no feeling at all
- Difficult to express love or intense emotion
- Lost of interest to other productive things
- Cannot even remeber important events during his/her traumatic moments
- Often disconnected with the world or reality
Well, I can have manifestation of some factors, like difficult to show intense emotion or love, but I still believe that this world is the best place to live in. I easily lost interest to some important things. There are times that I don't want to go out the house and mingle with friend in our barrio. I just pass the time in silence, although my hands continue to tinker the keys of the computer's keyboard to complete a hub, like this.
I find inner peace by doing it, for now.
Battling PTSD with the help of professionals
I'm a passive churchgoer. I attend mass or fellowship occasionally. But this helps me to move on even the echoes of the past continue to haunt me. Faith keeps me sane and move to get along with the society if needed.
I had asked our guidance counselor in high school about it, the fear that lingers after the traumatic stage in my life. She consoled me that it will pass If I will continue attending to other important needs or priorities.
She further advised that I must look forward and set my goals so that I can attain it in a positive way.
My fear. It's on my mind, but it's conquerable. I had to do the best way to make myself better and be a good example to others.