- Mental Health
PTSD: Not Just For Veterans
My PTSD Story
I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 1992 at the age of 19. I have never seen combat in the military though, I attempted to serve. My traumas started well before I ever entered the Navy. I have detailed the accounts in my book Running Scared.
It all started when I was 3 weeks old...I was put in a gas oven in daycare because I wouldn't sleep. My parents and the doctors have no idea how long I was unconscious other than the five hours after my mom took me to the hospital. Five plus hours I was unconscious from gas poisoning. When I was two years old I witnessed two men shoot each other to death. When I was almost three we were in a terrible car accident where I hit my head on the heater under the front seat and needed stitches, I still have the scar.
As if those weren't enough traumas to endure, I was molested at three years old by my babysitter's father, at 12 by a friend of the family and some high schoolers, and I was gang raped at 17 by three men that lived down the road from my family.
Add to all of that the bullying I endured for developing early and having problems with my legs and it makes for one traumatic childhood.I still have trouble visiting the city I was raped. The bright side to the rape is that I have my oldest daughter as a result. I have only recently begun treatment and am learning all of my triggers. They can be as simple as a firework sound, the smell of cheap beer or marijuana, a certain touch, and certain place.
After a mental breakdown where I thought I was a teapot, I spent five weeks in a partial hospital hospitalization program where I went to group therapy five hours a day five days a week for four weeks. Once I graduated that program I went to an intensive outpatient therapy program three days a week for five weeks. I currently see a private therapist and doctor. I currently take Lexapro and Buspar with hydroxyzine as needed for really bad attacks. I tried Celexa, however, it made me feel extremely suicidal and it was stopped immediately. At one point, I was on Ativan for the catatonic episodes, however it did not mix well with Lexapro and made things worse.
Starting therapy and finding the right medications helped more than I can explain. The best analogy I have is, I went from having 13 televisions and 5 stereos in my head all at once to having only one or two. The quiet in my mind a blissful relief, but I still have random attacks and triggered attacks. I also, have Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia. Every day I am in fight or flight mode, like someone that lost their wallet and panics and some days are worse especially if I am triggered.
With PTSD, I not only deal with flashbacks of the traumatic events, the flashback triggers the anxiety and panic. I have spent days shaking so much I couldn't hold a pen. Occasionally, I will have muscle spasms that feel like a dozen Charlie horses going up my spine. Other days I have been catatonic and unable to move or speak.
Everyday is a living nightmare for me; though, I do have good days where my nerves are only slightly on edge and my heartrate is only a little elevated. In therapy I have been able to learn ways of coping with attacks by using distraction and mindfulness. I also vlog on YouTube about my experiences as a form therapy and to share my experience so others like me won't feel as alone as I have felt.
I wish I had been able to find such great therapists sooner. I have seen many psychiatrists and therapist but was never properly diagnosed or treated until recently. I would not wish flashbacks and nightmares on anyone, not even my worst enemy. More people need to understand the effects trauma can have long-term and how easily they can be triggered for veterans and non-veterans alike.
© 2017 Kym LaFever