Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Massage & PTSD - blog by J. Michels

J. Michel’s research into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Detailed Interviews included at end

Once known as ‘Shell Shock’ Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition classified as being Mental, Anxiety, and Panic related. It can occur at any age in life, sometimes manifesting through a high anxiety, or stress related situation, or suddenly with no ‘at-the-time’ provocation known. People with a traumatic past are said to be more likely to develop the condition later on when dealing with a high stress situation. It is unknown why some people are more apt to become PTSD, while others can be subjected to the same stressors and have no symptoms or occurrence of this condition. It is speculated that the reason for this is genetic predisposition, overall emotional state, family life, and environmental settings.

There are so many stressors out there that we face on a daily basis. PTSD is closely related to traumatic event stressors such as [but not at all limited to:]

Sudden/unexpected loss of a loved one
Sexual assault
Debilitating injury
War
A constant state of helpless feeling, or unrelenting stress and aggravation over a period of time
Accidents [car, boat, plane, hunting]
Domestic violence
Prison stays
Natural disasters
Terrorism

This is just to name a few [For more information on what can cause PTSD see sources]

Almost all cases of PTSD are accompanied by: Disassociation, Panic attacks, Anxiety, and difficulty coping with ‘normal’ relationships. Some victims are prone to bursts of rage, or fits of uncontrollable crying, their senses are heightened and easily aroused. Many people living with PTSD will relive the traumatic trigger over and over. They will go out of their way to avoid anything that may remind them of the traumatic event.

Most of my information comes from the Western medicine view of PTSD, however, due to phenomenal personal experience, I would also like to incorporate an Oriental medicinal view as well.

Personally, I have greatly benefitted from both sides. I am a type one diabetic, diagnosed in 2009 just a month before I turned 19. Today I am a healthy 23 year old young woman with a bright and healthy future ahead of me. Early in my diagnosis I went to nutrition schooling and all of my treatments were from a western view. However, my first Endocrinologist was all for a more natural way of healing. He would suggest a drug to help me manage my diabetes, then tell me a more natural plant [or animal] based product that would do the same thing as the drug without the harsh side effects. He highly recommended a balanced, organic diet and plenty of exercise.

I never really got into the whole oriental healing until I started massage school. I have been blessed by finding my way to this path, and have been introduced to so many natural ways of self healing and self cultivation.

With the information I have learned on this path my health has greatly improved. I don’t personally have PTSD, but I do have close friends who have this condition. Of these friends, one in particular has been accepting of what I have learned and thus talked with him about. He is my continuing case study and I will be documenting his progress with massage. I hope to share all that he and I learn together [as he is more than willing to share his experiences as well]

Let us learn a little about oriental healing modalities shall we?

Oriental medicine is based strongly on the balance of ones qi energy [or rather their life energy] This is to say a balance of yin qi and yang qi within the body. The treatments oriental medicine work to balance an individual’s qi energy to bring the body back into harmony. According to oriental medicine, if there is a manifestation of a pathogen or any condition it usually stems from either excess, or insufficient qi energy in the corresponding element organ, or a supporting element organ. Sometimes it involves multiple element organs. The oriental medicine practitioners believe that the body has all it needs to heal itself, and that it will take from another part of the body in order to mend any damage done by a pathogen or condition. Only when balance is achieved will the body be completely whole and healthy as well.


In order to bring balance to the bodies qi oriental medicine will follow the nine steps of maintaining health and wellness. These nine steps are:


1. Meditation – Inward listening. Reading your own bodies inner workings to identify a problem, or to better understand how you work.

2. Exercise- Mind/body exercise. Yoga, tai’chi, Qi gong, ‘In the Zone exercises.’

3. Diet and nutrition – eating what is beneficial to the body/mind.

4. Astrology – Where the stars align. Being in touch with your own intuition. Open to divine insight. Can you live the truth in your heart?

5. Feng shui – Wind water the way the wind and water flow through the room. How do you feel in a room. Look at an area in your home. How do you feel?

6. Massage and Tui Na – Someone else manipulating the tissues of the body without cutting.

7. Herbology – Taking what is in the herbs of the earth, the intensity of the undiluted therapeutic level. Taken via ingestion.

8. Acupuncture/ moxabustion Invasive work with needles being inserted in the body, still no cutting.

9. Last resort: Surgery. Cutting into the body to remove damage done by a pathological condition.


Some acupressure points to use while working with a client who has PTSD are:


GV 16 – Feng Fu, Wind Mansion: Main point for wind in the body, promotes communication between the body and mind, Psychological issues such as mania, palpitations from fear a/or fright, suicidal thoughts.
GV 11 – Shen Dao, Spirit Path: Important point for spirit problems, anxiety, and mood.

CV 14 – Ju Que, Great Tower Gate: Any Shen or Heart issue arising from an Excess or a Deficiency, Shen disturbances arising from Phlegm "misting the mind" - manic depression, muddled thinking, anger outbursts, poor memory, anxiety, palpitations, panic attacks.

PC 6 – Nei Guan, Inner Pass: mania, nervousness, stress, poor memory

HT 7 – Shen Men, Spirit Gate: Tonify deficiencies of the HT Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang, Emotional issues, especially those with related sleep or thinking manifestations - insomnia, Physical responses to emotional stimuli - anxiety w/palpitations, nausea w/panic a/or fear.

HT 9 – Shao Chong, Lesser Surge: Can be bled or needled for emotional disturbances - strong restlessness, anxiety, panic attacks, manic depression, epilepsy,

KD 4 – Dazhong, Large Goblet: Important point for somnolence, fright/fear, palpitations, reluctance to interact with others
LV 3 – Tai Chong, Great Surge: Calming point - anger, irritability, insomnia, anxiety.

[found on yinyanghouse.com ]

The military has started to implement acupuncture, the insertion of needles into the skin to manipulate qi, as a treatment for PTSD and TBI [Traumatic Brain Injuries]. They have found that the use of acupuncture has helped to alleviate the symptoms of both conditions. The VA even is backing up acupuncture as a supplementary therapy for Veterans and active duty personnel.

A study was done to teach children [ranging in ages 5-8] to meditate on compassion. This meditation was to help cultivate positive attributes in the children and nurture them so they would develop into well functioning adults in society. The results where phenomenal.

According to the EMORY Report [research “Teaching Kids Compassion Through Meditation” Oct. 13, 2010]

“Two Emory graduate students developed pilot programs on this Tibetan Buddhist contemplative tradition [Meditation on Compassion] in two educational settings, one in a private school and one in the foster care system. Brooke Dodson-Lavelle and Brendan Ozawa-de Silva used the compassion meditation protocol designed by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership, co-director of the Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies and spiritual director of Atlanta’s Drepung Loseling Monastery. Ozawa-de Silva and Dodson-Lavelle collaborated with teachers at The Paideia School, an Atlanta-area private, independent school. They were invited by the school’s consulting psychologist Barbara Dunbar.

“The program, says Dodson-Lavelle, was for “children aged 5-8, an in-class program to see if we could systematically teach compassionate meditation, which encompasses qualities like empathy, perspective, impartiality, equanimity.” It built on the mindfulness meditation the teachers there were already using. Jonathan Petrash, who co-teaches a class of 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds, says, “I really think it helps the kids [to] center. The biggest impact was around interpersonal dynamics — how to talk to friends, being open and closed, body language and what it tells us.”

“The second pilot program, developed and implemented by Ozawa-de Silva and Dodson-Lavelle, Negi and Charles Raison, clinical director of the Emory Mind-Body Program, was in early 2009 for youth in Atlanta’s group foster care system. Six girls, age 13-16, were trained in a six-week compassion meditation program, in which the goal, Dodson-Lavelle says, was to give them a sense of self-worth and hope. Kids in foster care have “emotional problems and behavioral problems, such as connecting with adults, for a lot of different reasons,” Dodson-Lavelle says. The girls later told external reviewers of the program how powerfully the meditation had helped them in their relationships. Dodson-Lavelle confirmed that one of the participants said the training transformed her relationship with her estranged adoptive mother.”

If meditation can help children to this degree, why wouldn’t it work for someone who deals with a condition that effects their mind to a point of driving them to suicide?

What I have found in my research and through the many interviews I have done there is one thing that is practically screaming at me. It is a common theme among all the information I have gathered. All these side-effects from PTSD are rooted in fear.

Fear can be a powerful emotion. It can keep us from experiencing life abundantly; it holds us back from things we love. Fear keeps us hidden in the dark, and can utterly destroy our lives physically, mentally, and spiritually.

As a child we fear things we do not understand, and we look to an adult to help us on our way. If an adult or another child mistreats us, and hurts us, we may fall victim to PTSD, a form of child abuse PTSD.

When we are adults, and we are forced into hard choices, or injured unexpectedly, even abused again, it can cause another form of PTSD where we will relive the situation, the emotions do not resolve themselves because we don’t always have the tools to combat, and to deal with this overwhelming fear.

In war, when we witness death, pain, when we are subjected to make the decision of kill or be killed in an instant, when our life is torn apart because we lose loved ones, comrades, even an appendage, this is when another form of PTSD can show up. Once again we are thrown into a state of helplessness.

So what is the ultimate antagonist to fear? Emotions from the heart. Love, acceptance, peace, sincerity, and hope; if these are exercised daily and used by people who are working with others who have PTSD the results can be phenomenal. The individual who deals with this overwhelming fear, anxiety, pain, loneliness, and helplessness on a daily basis may not know how to get past that block. All we can do is nurture them, love them, show them patience, compassion, and through it all accept them.


When the heart begins to take the place of fear, the body can heal and become whole again.” – Cynthia McMullen

There are more and more treatments for PTSD as this epidemic grows among the general population. How effective a treatment is will be completely conditional and specific to the person receiving the treatment. Some of the most common treatments out there are:

Therapy

“When looking for a therapist for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), seek out mental health professionals who specialize in the treatment of trauma and PTSD. You can start by asking your doctor if he or she can provide a referral to therapists with experience treating trauma. You may also want to ask other trauma survivors for recommendations, or call a local mental health clinic, psychiatric hospital, or counseling center.

“Beyond credentials and experience, it’s important to find a PTSD therapist who makes you feel comfortable and safe, so there is no additional fear or anxiety about the treatment itself. Trust your gut; if a therapist doesn’t feel right, look for someone else. For therapy to work, you need to feel respected and understood.”
 [From ‘Finding a therapist for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)’ Http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm]

Massage is another effective treatment for people with PTSD. It has been proven in countless clinical studies that massage can lower stress levels in the body, providing a way for the body to relax and release tight muscles, stagnant energy, and emotional trauma that may be trapped in the muscles. Physically, clinical massage therapy is a caring, stress relieving touch. The need to be touched is something that is a part of us genetically. It is something we as humans simply cannot live without. A gentle touch is measured to have a degree of healing to it, where a painful strike leaves a mark emotionally, and in most cases physically. Through massage a person dealing with PTSD may be able to inter a state where they are calm, relaxed, and in a better position to heal from their emotional and physical scars. More and more massage therapists, and clinical massage centers are seeing people come in with combat PTSD, they report positive changes in the clients that have been consistent with massage treatments.


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CASE STUDY INTERVIEWS

The following are interviews were conducted between myself and various people with various types of PTSD as well as professionals in healthcare fields and people who live with someone who has PTSD. They chose to remain anonymous, or to share their first name. These people, in my opinion, are some of the bravest people I have come across in my life, here are their stories and what they have to say about their experience with PTSD. These are their own words.

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Tyler X’s interview


How is your family life? Like how does your family treat you knowing you have this condition?

Chaotic, Hectic, confusing, but accepting and caring.We fight, but we love each other, and know it.

Do you ever get blackouts?

Blackouts? I've never passed out, but I've gotten so angry, during fights, that I've had a "Dis-association" moment where the fight or flight mode kicked in. I think it's mostly due to the extremely high level of adrenaline going through my system at the time, as well...

What are some of the effects of this condition in you, do you know what may cause these symptoms to manifest?

Mmmm... nightmares are stressed induced, no real rhyme or reason to them, that I can find, aside from major stressors of the day being represented by some of my higher ups who were against me. My issues sleeping are caused from chaotic, over active thinking, my mind trying to sort out the day's events, and plan ahead for the next day, every detail meticulously went over, in no real order... rarely is 1 thing thought about, and the next thing thought about even remotely relating to the previous. Anxiety regarding crowds, mechanical failures, people paying too much attention to things, easily stressed/angered, restless sleep, nightmares (gotten use to them, but they still occur), extreme muscle fatigue (clenching do to stress), and a very restless mind (chaotic, random, continuous thinking). The anger and stress thing was brought on by a 5 year period of people wanting me to do their jobs, while I was already too busy, and getting no help. Being paranoid of strangers looking at things was from the pacers giving information to mortar and rpg wielding insurgents, people trying to see how things are done, so they could use IED’s most effectively. Stress from crowds is a mix of both situations mentioned above.Muscle fatigue... I'm not really good at finding ways to relieve stress, so it builds until a psychological safety relief valve goes...

How long have you had PTSD?

5-6 years

Can you tell me anything else?What happens when the condition begins to manifest itself in you, or rather how does it affect your daily life now?

Aside from bad dreams, if I have a "Moment" I just seize up for a minute or two, complete and total muscle lock.

Do you have a support group? How do you cope with this condition?

No real support group, and I control it by carefully exposing myself for brief periods to my triggers... essentially desensitizing myself to the over-sensitization.Just don't yell or scream in a panicky way while I'm driving... I don't know of any place safe to work on that part...
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Interview 2 Ostin X

My daughter, 15 months at the time, had a very bad fever that I could not for the life of me break. took her to the ER. When they needed to take her temperature, they did it rectally. Which, I guess I was ok with, but I had to sit there and watch her get man handled by the RN's. She was screaming mommy the entire time. I just sat there and watched. Then a few hours went by and they decided that they needed to do a UTI test on her. At first I was thinking they were going to have to get a sample from her diaper. NOPE. They needed to insert a catheter into her to retrieve urine. They did not give her any anesthetic whatsoever. So, since they were short staff and they asked me to pin her down the entire time. I refused to have her get the urine tested but they sadly convinced me otherwise. so I had to sit there and pin her down against the table while they inserted the catheter into her. the entire time it was happening, she was screaming at the top of her lungs MOMMY! NO!! OW!! MOMMY!! OW!! I know this isn't as bad as many of the stories out there, but, it really did some mental/emotional damage. When I think about it, I’m brought to tears, I start shaking, and I can't get my mind off of it. It just replays over and over in my head. The anxiety I feel right now, just telling you the story, is immense. My palms/feet are sweating.


How is your family life? Like how does your family treat you knowing you have this condition?


“I would say my family life is next to normal. It's stressful because of the fact that I am a single full time working mom with two kids, but that's besides the point. My family, well, they don't really know I actually have it. I don't talk to them about it because I feel like it's such a mundane experience that they would just scoff it off and tell me to get over it.”


What are some of the effects of this condition in you? Do you know what may cause these symptoms to manifest?


“The effect it has on me is it raises my anxiety level every time my daughters get sick or when I even think about it. I don't have Vietnam flashbacks per say, but when the thought comes back up in my head; I do get very anxious and very quiet. What causes it to come up is passing by the hospital. I live literally a half mile away from it and see it on a daily basis. When I pass it, the entire experience plays through my head in a flash. I start breathing heavily, heart beat races, and I get teary eye'd. Also, I can just be sitting watching tv, at work, or whatever, and some random thing will trigger it. Say, a straw. I'll look at the straw, and somehow make some crazy psycho connection to catheters and start thinking about it again.”

Can you tell me anything else?


“It sucks. Pretty much sums it up.”


What happens when the condition begins to manifest itself in you, or rather how does it affect your daily life now?


“I wouldn't say it really effects my daily life. I still function as a normal human being and get day to day tasks done. But when it does manifest, I just get quiet and remember and just think about how much I wish I could go back in time and not have had my daughter go through that.”


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Ostin X also has experience living with an Ex Fiancé who has Combat PTSD, here is her story for that experience:


Living with someone with combat PTSD is somewhat nerve racking. On top of the PTSD, he was a prescription drug abuser and alcoholic. Watching his deterioration was very depressing, anxiety filled, and exhausting. When we would sleep, the PTSD will show through his dreams the most. He would go an entire week without getting more than 7 hours of sleep. By Thursday, he would be in a psychosis and admit himself into the VA. Every day he was admitted, I would drive 30 miles just to go see him for an hour. When he slept, he'd thrash about and scream. I've learned VERY quickly not to wake him during those episodes. Many a times, he would grab, kick, and even punch me. He will then wake up crying because of the nightmares he had. The alcohol would help him forget, and the xanax will help him not care. Eventually, we broke up and went our separate ways. He went to rehab, after the 5th or 6th time, for 3 months. When he came out, it was like he was a different man. He still suffered from PTSD, but the addiction was under control. We don't talk now, but he is married and has a beautiful daughter. I'm proud of how far he has come in the last couple of years.

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Interview 3 Heidi X

I got diagnosed with PTSD back in 2007 when I came out to my family about the child abused that happened to me as a child. 10 years of sexual abuse from my step dad. My mother was in shock and didn’t know what to do or think so she stopped talking to me and my brother all together. Coming out had torn my family apart with anger and hatred. Even though people said it wasn’t my fault (which i knew) it really hurt me to have my mom not there to support me in this negative time of me life... i was 27, very sick with a digestive issue, depressed and confused. Talking about it with others brought up serious anxiety. I was put on anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety pills. I felt the world was moving and swirling so fast and I was just sitting there, watching it play out with no control over what was happening. People told me to do this and press charges, or that I was lying.

So after all that came out I started seeing an acupuncturist. This was probably one of the best decisions I have ever make, besides telling everyone about "my secret". Within two month I was off all the pills, had a job and was dating. I started to be more social and felt stronger ever day! Looking back on it, I smile... The growth I was given and the choices I made throughout the chaos. Today I still have anxiety but mainly in the early morning hours when I dream. With essential oil and meditation it happens less and less. My mom and I are working on our relationship slowly. I have an amazing boyfriend and support system now that I didn't have before.

How is your family life? Like how does your family treat you knowing you have this condition?

I have my ups and downs, like everyone else, with my family.. but mostly ups! My father and stepmom are very supportive of me in every way possible and I am working out a balance in my relationship with my mother. We are both trying, and that make the whole thing worth it.

What are some of the effects of this condition in you? Do you know what may cause these symptoms to manifest?

I do still get affected by my dreams and emotions. They create an anxiety that I am learn to dismiss, what's done is done but I still get to choose my future is kind of how I try and think of it.

Can you tell me anything else? What happens when the condition begins to manifest itself in you, or rather how does it affect your daily life now?

It can affect how much or well I sleep, dreams, I won't go to certain places because its not comfortable for me.

How long have you had PTSD?

I got diagnosed back in 2007.

Do you have a support group? How do you cope with this condition?

I do not see a support group; my family and boyfriend give me all the support I could ever want or need.

Do you ever have Blackouts?

Not as often, back in my darker days I did all the time. The blackouts are numbing and I don't like experiencing them or how I feel after.
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Interview 4 Person X

I would prefer it if I would stay anonymous. The reason why I have it because while I was growing up I got severely emotionally abused and my own mother threatened me multiple times to take my life away. Both my parents were alcoholics and they were constantly shouting every evening which always ended up in fighting each other (Thank god for my older sister who was always there to stop them or at least try to...) Every day it was pretty much the same story, dad came home drunk from going to the bar after work, my mother not saying a word back but after dinner she would open a bottle of wine & drink it within 2 hours & open another one... And then it started, first you could hear them arguing, then they got louder & louder... and then it was just shouting at each other, throwing insults in every sentence.. Not something that is pleasant to hear when you're only 6years old. They would go on for hours into the night, laying awake in your bed, just listening to them for hours straight yelling while you can't sleep, yet it's 2am and you have to go elementary the next day. Every morning was the same... my mother would say sorry for last night, it won't happen again... everyday... But as time went by.. it just got worse.. It would start out with the usual shouting which I already gotten used to by now & just tried to ignore it sadly. Now, they started attacking each other physically, you could hear them yelling from pain, smashing things around the house. Shouting your & your sisters’ name to call the cops... But every time my sister went down it was the same, she stood between them & yelled at them to get some sense into them I guess, they settled down & my sister went back upstairs. Every time this happened, after 5 minutes it was the same thing all over again. Everyday waking up & noticing how so much things were damaged & missing, my parents not even saying anything anymore. At that time I was just happy for the small periods of time where they weren't fighting and it was silent. But time went on, this going on everyday basically until when I turned 10. I remember that age very well because it is a memory I will never be able to forget. My dad who was drunk was driving me home from soccer practice and his "buddy" went with us so they could drink more at home. When we came home I went to the living area & saw my mother crying in the couch with some bottles of wine & my sister sitting next to her, I already knew at that moment. it was not going to turn out well. My mother shouting to my dad's friend to go home cause otherwise he will see things he doesn't want to see, my heart already pounding, my sister tells me to go upstairs but then when I want to go, my mom stands up, grabs my arm and forces me down to the ground & tells me "NO, now you’re going to watch TV be silent & be nice" ... I had no idea what was going on but being too scared & not wanting to get hurt I just did what she said. After some loud arguments between my mother and dad my dad's friend said "I should really go, it's getting late" but my dad kept telling him, it's no big deal this & that, stay and drink a few more. But my mother just suddenly lost it. She went to the kitchen grabbed a knife & stood there in the doorway of the kitchen/living area. She shouted at my dad get out now or you’re going to die right here, while my sister is shouting at her not to do it, I’m just completely paralyzed watching this all happen. my dad laughed at her & said you're going to stab me now? And then laughed some more. Well, she did stab him. 5 times in his arm while he was trying to defend himself and 2 times in the chest. The second she stabbed him in the chest and he made this awful yell I will never forget, she dropped the knife & just ran away outside. It all happened so fast. I was completely frozen & shocked as was my sister, my dad's friend kept saying "I don’t want anything to do with this, I need to get home etc." but my dad laying on the floor bleeding begging him to stay. My sister called the ambulance after snapping out of it while I was still in the same position, just staring into nothing, completely shocked. she slapped me in the face shouting at me but I could not move... she literally picked me up & carried me upstairs and put me to bed while I was just staring at my ceiling. After a few minutes I could hear my dad’s friend leaving and my dad & sister crying together. The ambulance arrived, they took him away & my sister went with him. I was left alone in the house, in my bed, still completely in shock because I had just witnessed my mother stabbing my dad 2 meters in front of me. It must have been an hour or so before I heard the downstairs door opening, it was my mother returning. I heard some mumbling, and then I could hear her coming up the steps. My heart started pounding like it was going to explode out of my chest. Then she opened my door turned on my light, I looked at her, she looked at me, what she said was, “if you testify I will stab you next.” And I will never forget that evening for as long as I live because it frequently comes back to me in nightmares sadly enough. After this things only got worse sadly enough. Too many traumas I still remember vividly and I will never be able to forget. Every time I think about one, it seems to trigger another one and so on. It is not something easy to live with as I get frequent panic attacks even when I hear people shouting loudly. But yes, due to my childhood, I have this disease now and it is strange how it suddenly struck me from one day to the other when I was around 17 years old. At first I thought it would go over, but after a few weeks I stopped going to school, did everything to avoid people because I did not know what panic attacks were at that time. I only knew all of this when I went to my doctor & he referred me to see a psychologist. He said the reason I got it was because I was putting myself under too much pressure for school & sports. And sadly, up to this day, my daily "life" still suffers from this disease.


My family life took many changes over the past years.... My mother discovered she had cancer stage 3, 3years ago. She went into chemo but did not stop drinking while she was getting it.. Whenever she got drunk on top of her pain medications she would really just go insane & tried to hurt everybody that came near her. After a year of this things got really out of hand. One Sunday I got woken up by yelling downstairs, my parents were going at it again. My dad wanted to watch the cyclocross and she would constantly turn the TV off & insult him constantly. He was sick of it so he just drove off to the bar so he could watch it there. She came up to my room then, told me to shut down my pc in a very scary angry way & not to turn my TV on either. She slammed my door & went back downstairs. After 2minutes I heard a really loud explosive kind of noise, I went downstairs. She had thrown the TV on the floor & she was holding this small potato knife telling me to go back upstairs & insulting me, then she actually kicked me & I snapped. I swiped the knife from her & put my both arms around her while she kept kicking me & I just sat down on the couch holding her while she was screaming for help & insulting me. This went on for about 20minutes before she calmed down & my legs were black and blue. She told me she was calm now, I let her go and at the same second I let go she turned around raised her fist & she said "Oh no... I got something better planned..." She went up her room and slammed the door. I cleaned up what was left from the TV & took it outside. Went back to my room & just lay down on my bed with my head full of thoughts. Suddenly my mother opened her door; she went downstairs and about 10minutes later she came back upstairs, she yelled at me "I hope you can jump!" and slammed the door. I didn't think much of it so I just kept lying down, but then after 2minutes or so, I smelled something burning. I went to open my door & a huge black cloud went in my face & room, I slammed the door & immediately went to my window, opened it and jumped onto our kitchen roof 3meters away... My leg went through the tiles but I didn't feel the pain because I saw the downstairs window & it was completely black. You couldn't see a thing trough it. I grabbed my cell phone & actually dialed 911 (instead of 112 over here) for the fire department. My neighbor came outside while I was making the call & I just yelled at her "call the cops! Call the fire department! She set the house on fire!!" I climbed down the kitchen roof & while I was doing it I heard glass shatter, it was the living room window that just shattered completely & I could see the huge flames coming outside... My neighbor’s husband jumped across the yards fence & told me to hand him buckets of water from our well. He tossed a few inside before the fire department came & took over. They asked me if somebody was inside and I said "yes my mom" but when they asked me where she was all I could say was upstairs, I was shaking so bad & filled with adrenaline from what happened & what was going on. One guy came to me & tried to calm me down while he pointed out my pants were covered in blood, I scraped a huge amount of flesh from my leg while making that jump from my room to the roof and I could not even feel it. They took me to the ambulance that was waiting outside and of course, the entire neighborhood was there to come & watch. They put me on breathing apparatus while they were fixing up my leg but I had to go to the hospital and had no say in it. But sorry. I’m making this way too long. But because of this, my mother got sent to jail for 14months. We had to stay at my father's sister' house for 3 days before they gave us a temporary house to live in. We had to live there for 7months and the house was in really bad shape, but it was manageable. I tried to get a new job (i only lasted a week...) and then all I did was stay inside & sleep pretty much all the time. But after 6months, we found out that my mother had gotten an early release and because she had nowhere to stay. She stayed with us... She gave me a big apology in tears for the millionth time telling me it would never happen again and all that... The only reason I forgave her was because she had cancer & didn't have many more years left. We started fixing up our old house again after 3 different cleaning companies had come to clean it all up first so no toxic substances were left in the house. The first few weeks/months were really awkward, but it got 'better' eventually. I still do not understand until this day why they didn't get divorced after the fire. I really don't. But people just kept telling me, "Love is blind"... After we fixed the house up things went to normal for the first time in my life. I wasn't afraid everyday that I had to break them both up cause they were going to kill each other, they never even yelled at each other anymore. It felt really weird as I was used to screaming fighting all the time, but I was happy for them. My mother's cancer got worse because while in jail, she had kicked her alcohol problem, but she was still smoking... All she kept saying was "I don’t have long to live anymore so I might as well enjoy my last moments" After 2 years (February 28th 2013) She passed away while I was holding her hand and she was trying to gasp for air... I kept saying "it's okay mom... I love you... it's time to go" and after a few minutes... it stopped. She had passed away right in front of me while I was holding her hand. I had not cried in years because I literally had no emotions after all the things I went through. But at that moment, I just started crying and knowing that after all the things she did to me I still loved her because she was my mother. It were so many mixed emotions all at once, I could not deal with it. My dad kept telling me I did "a great job" and stuff like that which made me even more frustrated.. So now.. I am living with my dad in this house. He says my condition is bullshit and that it's only in my head & I have to be strong because I’m weak. I don't really get support from him. My sister visits every now & then and she will always ask me how it's going and if it's better or worse etc. But other than that, I basically spend my entire time locking myself away from the outside world because the littlest loud noise or if somebody yells, it will most of the time trigger a panic attack for me. The psychologist declared that I had PTSD when I was 17, my parents never really cared and said I was just looking for attention and other hurtful stuff like that. While I was scared to go outside or even downstairs to get food.. I was on medication for 2 years but they never really seemed to help. The doctor told me it was better to stop it and to go to Group Therapy, me being the shyest person ever and scared to go outside. It was hell for me. I went to a few and hardly said a word every time. I never had my parents or any other family coming with me to them even though I begged. I was always on my own and I will most likely be on my own for the rest of my life. My daily life right now consists of waking up, watching a TV-show behind my computer or surf some websites. Go downstairs and make something to eat, go back behind my computer for a while, clean up the house & start preparing dinner for when my dad get's home from work. It is really frustrating to want to go outside & do something every day, but you have no friends and every time you want to go outside on your own you get so nervous u actually have to throw up & get the shakes, from just thinking about it. So my life is not really a fun one to live, but other people have it worse so I can't complain. I am not on medication at this moment & I have stopped going to my support group. I have basically given up sadly. I have had a few blackouts when I was obligated to go somewhere outside, I can't really remember much of those days... Just waking up in bed and having no idea what I did for a 6-12hour span. Which gives me even more stress & reason to stay inside. Kind regards.


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Devon X’s story and interview


I do apologize if my story makes you uncomfortable. Growing up both my parents were plagued with addiction to prescription pain pills and alcohol. So, they fought. Quite a bit. In truth, I probably could write you a book on all of the things that I had to see or hear. It was 18 years of my life. Everything from watching my mother have her head slammed in the foot stool mechanism of a recliner, my parents fighting literally on top of me in the middle of the night, to my dad choking me until the world started to go fuzzy. I spent a lot of time hating them and being bitter that I got stuck with it. In 2010, when I was 18, the month before my graduation by father had been sick. He went to the hospital (I never visited) and eventually came home the day before I was leaving with my grandmother (dad's mom) and mother to visit family out of state. The hospital had given my father pain pills so he and my mother were arguing and my mom was refusing to leave with us because he wouldn't share. I grabbed her and told her that her mother was sick and we didn't know if this would be the last time we saw her not. I told her my dad wasn't worth arguing with and pushed her to the car. The last time I saw my dad's face was him looking angrily out the window. Two days later, I found out that he had died in the bed next to my brother of liver failure. He had accidentally over dosed on his pills because he was too high to remember when he was taking them. And that's when my mind finally snapped. After the funeral, my Mom was kicked out of my grandmother's house...Moved in with a man...and after my graduation my little brother moved in with an aunt 3 hours away. I was left alone with my grieving grandmother who never really cared for people. That's when I started to become jumpy and have more and more nightmares. I still tried to move on though, feeling weak for dwelling on things. A few months later in September, I was at the man who became my husband's apartment. His roommate had a friend over who ended up tripping and twisting her ankle. I was calm and helpful...until they started talking about pain medicine and the girl just said "How much would I have to take before my liver failed?" since they were choosing which medicine to give her. All I remember was this feeling as if something snapped. I stood up calmly, walked into my boyfriend's bedroom...and just lost it. I don't remember much of what happened...Just memories of my family. I woke up crying in the shower with my boyfriend panicking because he had no idea what to do. After that, things just started to go downhill. I have flash backs when people drop plates or move dishes, run up or down stairs or across wood floors or doors closing too hard. I won't take anxiety medicine like xanax and I'll hoard pain pills so I don't have to take them. I just get too scared...I'm too afraid to go out on my own most of the time. My husband is my biggest support, but it's hard since he's very outgoing and my PTSD has made me painfully shy and my panic attacks can make me so tired and scared I can't face anyone at times.

How is your family life? Like how does your family treat you knowing you have this condition?

“My grandmother puts me down for it. I get told that I won't be able to function on my own, so I'm discouraged from trying to jobs. While my husband is incredible supportive, his family doesn't believe it. So, they aren't sensitive to it. (They slam doors a lot; try to force my husband to stick around for family events after one of them has scared me into a panic attack.)”


What are some of the effects of this condition in you? Do you know what may cause these symptoms to manifest?


“I've been told I have a bit of agoraphobia. That's mostly because of my anxiety being so high. Aside from the panic attacks thanks to being easily frightened by certain noises, tones, and images.”


Can you tell me anything else? What happens when the condition begins to manifest itself in you, or rather how does it affect your daily life now?


“I don't leave the house all that often, and I can't go places on my own. Being a college student, I skip a lot of school. I get extra days from disabled student services, but I've fallen behind in courses before because of it. I won't tell other students, so I end up leaving group work projects a lot. I've even changed my major because of it. It also makes going on dates with my husband difficult, since restaurants and movie theatres aren't really secure places for me.”

How long have you had PTSD?

“I would say I've had PTSD for three years, but I didn't seek treatment until November of 2011.”

Do you have a support group? How do you cope with this condition?


“Until recently, I was in therapy with case management for extra support. I had to drop the case management due to loss insurance (I turned 21, so the state took it away) I had set up payment plan with the center I go to. But recently my therapist had to drop all her clients due to going back for her Doctorate. Right now, I'm too scared to try and get close to another therapist. For now, I'm just taking things one step at a time, in combination with medication I've saved that keeps me from having adrenaline rushes.”


Do you ever have Blackouts?

“Many a time, I've had moments where I've become so frightened that I lose sense of where and when I am. According my husband and others, I've broken down several times and thought people were my parents or my parents were fighting or a large variety of situations. I've even thought my husband was my dad during one particularly bad spell. These all have to be told me though because afterwards I don't really remember, I just kind of wake up covered in tears and sweat trying to hide somewhere.”
_______________________________________________________________________________
Kayla X’s story


“I suffer PTSD from an abusive Fiancée a few years back. It was a mentally/physically/sexually abusive relationship that I'm still trying to work through. He has since taken his life, and I am actively trying to work through things. A counselor told me talking to random people about things would help me out. So I hope this will be mutually beneficial. I'm not sure what else to put. Some basic info? Female, 26, Canada, ex-military, currently unemployed. I am Bipolar Depressive II, with PTSD, Dissociation Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. I should probably explain the nature of my relationship with my fiancée. We were a BDSM couple; Him a Dom, and I a sub. He was heavily into bondage, and he took the opportunity to use me however he saw fit. He was mentally, physically, sexually, and verbally abusive to me. And I was stupid enough not to run away when I could have. We were both military. I was a rifle instructor. He did two tours in Afghanistan. He has since taken his life. I'm sure now that he had his own problems.”


How is your family life? Like how does your family treat you knowing you have this condition?


“My mother has a history of depression and suicide attempts. I've been pretty independent since I was eleven. I was in Air Cadets, and it got me out of the house a lot. It was how I got interested in the Air Force. When I was sixteen, I was on base teaching Rifle, and I met my fiancée. More on that later. My father spent a lot of time focusing on my mother and work. I'm not saying my childhood was overly hard or bad; but I've just never overly close to my parents. Especially my mother. I was hospitalized last May for a suicide attempt, and have been out of work since. My parents have come around a little, and have attempted to mend our relationship. I live with two guys, twin brothers in fact. I dated one of them for a while, but we decided to just be friends. Both have been really helpful in trying to help me deal with my issues. I've lived with them for almost three years now.”

What are some of the effects of this condition in you? Do you know what may cause these symptoms to manifest?


“A lot of my issues come from reliving moments. I get 'trapped' in memories. I've been told that I stare off into space, and will get visibly agitated. I have started to shake and cry, saying things like 'no, please don't. I'm sorry.' etc. I hear his voice from time to time, usually saying very derogatory things. I have even seen memories superimposed onto reality. I can see his old apartment and my current home at the same time. The meds I'm on for insomnia sometimes makes me sleep walk. I have been known to sleep cook, and hold conversations in my sleep.”


Can you tell me anything else? What happens when the condition begins to manifest itself in you, or rather how does it affect your daily life now?

“I have trust issues, and I'm quite paranoid. I have social anxiety, as well as panic attacks. As mentioned earlier, I have a Dissociation Disorder. My body, as a defense mechanism, removes my conscious thinking. I black out and go on auto pilot. Sometimes it happens randomly, like if I'm walking down the road, it can happen. But more often than not, it happens when I am under stress, or something triggers a memory. Like if I'm yelled at, or people start fighting. I can't stand anyone touching my back or neck because of things that he did.”

How long have you had PTSD?


“I was diagnosed with PTSD March of 2012, but have only more recently sought treatment. I have been placed on a waiting list for further testing/treatments (within six months).”


Do you have a support group? How do you cope with this condition?


“I have a counselor and a psychiatrist I work with, as well as a family doctor. My roommate is also part of my support circle. I have yet to start any group therapy.”


Do you ever have Blackouts?


“I don't cope well. Sometimes I pass out. It just gets too much and I end up on the floor before I know it. I also have yet to find a safe alternative to the cutting I do. My arms and legs are covered in scars. Most of the time, I don't remember cutting, but it seems to be when I'm in a black out, the cutting brings my mind back to the surface. I also rock back and forth, and that seems to soothe. Singing or humming helps a little to. I often isolate myself when I start to panic. Being alone probably doesn't help me in the long run, but I feel safer that way.”

________________________


Kayla X’s roommate has also been forthcoming in adding to this paper, here is RoomateX’s interview:

First off, how has your life changed to compensate for your loved one?


Previous to knowing Kayla, I had had very little experience being around and working with people with emotional instability. But I’ve always been able to empathize with people and their situations. It feels good helping people. Because of this, I've always been that 'pillow on my shoulder' guy who is always there with an open ear for friends and helps them through rough times. But I enjoy helping them and making them feel better.
Working with and trying to help Kayla with some of her issues is definitely a new experience for me.

As an empath, I seem to be able to absorb people's negative energy. (You don't have to agree or believe, just go with me here.) I can definitely feel people's emotional states and I physically touch people a lot while I'm consoling and comforting someone. Through that physical contact, I feel like I somehow help them more by taking in their negativity. Back in high school or as young adults, most people’s issues were very minor and easily worked through and forgotten. But with Kayla's repertoire of issues, the end result was me feeling down all the time and having my own dark thoughts. But unlike Kayla, I have multiple outlets for releasing that energy and getting back into balance. It DOES affect me negatively (in the short term) to work with Kayla and to try to help her with her insecurities, mistrust, depression, and emotional ups and downs, but I have outlets to let out that negativity.

But it has also changed how I talk to Kayla.

Because I don't know at any given moment what her emotional state is, I have to be more aware of what I say until I probe and find out the mood that she is in. Like ANYONE that's in a bad, angry, depressed mood, if you say the wrong thing at the wrong time, it just makes that person even more upset or angry or depressed. So I watch what I say most times until I know that her mood will be receptive to what I want to say or let he know about.


How long has your loved one had this condition?

I would say, probably about 4yrs. I’m not very good with the timings.


What is the emotional, physical, and if applicable, the spiritual results for you?

Living with and working with Kayla has definitely taken a toll (although a small one) and slightly changed how I look at things. The negative thought processes and attitude towards life, love, trust, and friendship that she exudes on a weekly basis have, let's say, augmented my views on a few things temporarily from time to time.
Emotionally, the experience has, let's say, dulled my feelings, on certain topics. When I first met Kayla, I have to say, some of what she told me sounded unbelievable. But only because I was a real 'goodie two-shoes'. Until I hit my 30's I've never really gone against the grain so to speak. I was very straight. I had never known anyone in my life that had experienced the sorts of things that Kayla had gone through. Not only that, but it wasn't just one single situation or bad experience that put her into the terrible depths of emotional turmoil she was in. I mean, combine a not so happy childhood, drugs, rape, mental and physical abuse from her now self-deceased fiancé, she had to deal with ALL of that. It was a real shock to my system at first.
Hearing all these experiences and reliving them with her as I try to help her sort out her thoughts and emotions has definitely made me desensitized to other things related to these topics.

This is a really small and meaningless example but it's the only thing I can bring to mind at the moment.
I'm a HUGE movie buff. I've probably seen almost anything you can think of. And I really dig very intense drama films. The more gritty and explicit the better. You can really get into people's heads and empathize with their bad luck and the situations they are experiencing. But, having not experienced most of the hardships these characters must take on, it's only entertainment for me. I get really emotionally involved. Except now, when there is a plot point or character that delves deeply into topics about suicide, rape, abuse or depression, my emotional involvement changes focus because I know someone who has had to live through these experiences and it becomes real.
Physically, really the only thing that it has affected is my time. There have been some pretty rough nights helping her see through delusional thoughts and helping her back up from really bad 'down' days. Helping her break bad habits of self-mutilation and self-hatred. In the past, there have been lot's of lost hours of sleep. Not nearly as much lately since we've logged many, many hours working on some issues.

There have also been hours sitting by her side at the hospital when she felt out of control or got accidentally injured due to blackouts and falls related to overwhelming anxiety attacks. Or visiting at the psych ward after bringing her there because I felt she was going to be a harm to herself. There have definitely been some hours invested in trying to help her get through some of these rough situations.


How much do you think you know about this condition? Has the information you received from others helped you?


I was REALLY into war movies for a while, especially dramas that really went deep into the human psyche and I did a little research into PTSD to see if the portrayals of what the characters were going through was accurate. So I know some but not a LOT.

Do you have a support group for your loved one, or even for yourself?

I have a really close circle of friends that I can turn to when I need them. I can always depend on them. And Kayla knows that I am always here when she needs me. She is/was receiving counseling and is awaiting some more in depth therapy specifically catered to working through the PTSD related issues. I myself have not looked into any counseling.

Is there anything else you can tell me about how this has effected you and those around you?

It's taken me a few hours of writing and re-writing the answers above so I think I've pretty much covered what I feel you were looking for. I just hope it helps.

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Interview 5


First off, how has your life changed to compensate for your loved one?

When my son returned from Afghanistan, I knew immediately he had changed. His demeanor, his attitude, even his tone of voice. He was sullen, extremely uncomfortable riding in a car and wouldn't drive unless he had to. This was a kid who grew up fixing up cars and LOVING everything about them. He did not live with me. He had a wife and 4 children all very close in age. He soon discovered his wife had been cheating on him the entire time he was deployed. They separated and it all crumbled from there. The Army began treating him for depression, that treatment soon turned into him being on 17 different medications, including anti=psychotic meds. They isolated him in what they call a "transitional" unit. That basically mean he doesn't work, he's check on throughout the day and medically warehoused. Three suicide attempts and one long in patient stay. We were in different state, 4 hour apart. I almost lost my job when I became his advocate. He is doing better, but is now much more stable, divorcing, broke, 21 days from being officially honorably discharged and living with me in a one bedroom apartment. My he sleeps on a large air mattress in my room. He has little to no affect. Minimal conversations, only because he is still on many medications including 1200 mg of Lithium a day. He always looks like he's just waking up or about to go to sleep. I keep company to a minimum, I go to larger stores, say Wal-Mart, because the crowds cause him to panic.


How long has your loved one had this condition?


He had a head injury at 5, nothing dramatic. He was an awesome great kid, lot's of friends, great grades etc. I gave my son to the Army healthy and well and after Afghanistan, they gave me back an invisibly wounded adult. This happened over approx. 3 years.


What is the emotional, physical, and if applicable, the spiritual results for you?


I don't have much time to focus on my own feelings, I push them aside. It's exhausting. If I need to cry, I do it alone. I am angry, very very angry at the treatment he received from the Army. They medicated him to the point that there have been physical domino ramifications. High blood pressure, arthritis, heart issues, physical pain, oral health issues, eye issues. My son went from 155 lbs, healthy and strong to now over 200 lbs and in pain most days. I'm sad, angry, hurt, and on a emotional roller coaster every single day. I do this on my own. I don't want my feelings to give him any sort of guilt. He says I'm sorry mom way to often. I don't want him to feel that way.


How much do you think you know about this condition? Has the information you received from others helped you?


I knew a little of what PTSD was, but immersed myself in information once my son and other soldier of mothers I knew were diagnosed, not that there is a definitive diagnosis. It's a combination and it's invisible. That makes it harder. They are all wounded warriors. The information I have received from some great web pages such as Military Minds. It has helped me tremendously. This may give you an perspective. It has really opened my eyes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NkWwZ9ZtPEI

Do you have a support group for your loved one, or even for yourself?


My son has not joined a support group, he however does have a close knight group of friends. My group of Army moms is an incredible source of strength for me. We can all talk about things we can't say out loud. An example is one of the sons pulled out a childhood toy he used to sleep with. Of course his mom has said nothing, but notices he sleeps better. Then other mom talked about similar things, their children re-claiming childhood toys that seem to give them a sense of comfort. It's a bit like Does Anyone Else....usually, there is always someone else.

Finally, how do you care for yourself after the day is done and you have made sure your loved one is safe for the time being?


I eat well, sleep well, work, go about my daily life without hovering over my son. I know he is safe. I keep an eye out for mood swings, things that could be warning signs he's pretty anxious. He knows I'm here. I have a social life. I will however have to admit with him staying with me for now, on occasion, I'll look in at him sleeping. He's still my baby boy.
__________________________________________________________________________________Interview 6
SWIM’s story and interview


I’ve always been a bit different. I’m 22 years old now and I’ve never fit in anywhere; I’ve had close friends but until recently, never ones that lasted. I’ve always been prone to anger (though I’ve kept that in check since high school) and had a lot of difficulty (realistically an inability) trusting people, a lot of unwarranted suspicion too. I kind of thought it was normal. When I was 11 years old or so, my mom told me that I’d been molested when I was a kid. Apparently I came forward about it; the same guy (my babysitter) did it to me and two of my female cousins. I couldn't remember it then except for one crystal clear image of red hair with no context. It slipped to the back of my mind and over time I dealt with all the weird symptoms (social anxiety, hyper-awareness, hyper-sexual stimulation, etc) without realizing where they came from. I conquered them by myself and was pretty much healthy, normal, and in the happiest time of my life. That was about 8 or 9 months ago now. I was in college for about a year studying English, but pretty much exactly a year ago i dropped out. The only valuable thing I felt I’d learned there at the time was about how awesome meditation is, from one of my psychology teachers. so I started meditating every day and things got even better, and then I got a job fundraising for charity door to door and getting paid an hourly wage to do it. Because of the people I worked with it was the best job I’ve ever had but it was also the hardest. I feel like the combination of heightened self-awareness from meditation and huge amounts of stress from my job were important factors in what happened next though. a movie came out in the fall that you're probably familiar with, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." I’d never read the book despite many recommendations but one of my friends dragged (lol not really, Emma Watson’s in it) me to the theatre to watch it. In an environment that's designed to totally absorb you in what's happening, it was kind of impossible not to have a flashback to my own experience that was similar to what happens in the movie. It wasn't exactly a full-fledged memory, there's a chance I’ll never remember the events of what happened to me; it's what's called a flesh memory. My body stored the intense emotions, the physical feeling as well as the intuitive sense that something was incredibly wrong. I was only 4 years old when it happened; before you really have a firm grasp of language you don't store memory as a story, you're not capable. I can remember things before it though, and things after, I’ve always been distinctly aware of a blank spot in my memory between kindergarten and the first grade. So there's a chance I’ll remember more in the future, when I’m ready. Anyway, things got really dark after that for awhile. I got really depressed, lost my job, stopped meditating, and stopped leaving the house. I tried to see a therapist at men's trauma centre the next day and the intake counselor agreed to set me up with a psychologist but they didn't call back for like a month, by which time I didn't want to talk to anyone about it. There was one friend I’d met at the fundraising job, one single person, who I felt I could trust enough to talk about it. I didn't know it but she'd been through a similar thing when she was older than me, she can remember it clearly. Talking to her about it was probably the smartest thing I could've done. Over the past 8 months she slowly helped me become comfortable talking to my family again, and then my old friends, and now I’m almost back where I was before everything went to hell. Sorry it took me so long to reply. If there's anything else you want to know feel free to ask.

How is your family life? Like how does your family treat you knowing you have this condition?

My family life was already complicated. My parents got divorced when I was 11 and now they're both remarried. That incident in the theatre was actually about a week before we found out my step-mom's pregnant. Still, my dad went through the same thing as me, so he's really understanding. They're just preoccupied. My mom lives pretty far away and I haven't talked to her much about it. I haven't told my younger brother about it at all. He's less than a year younger than me so he's always been there. I think he can tell something's changed and he's been a little more cautious with words, a little more kind. Sometimes I think he knows what's up and sometimes I don't.


What are some of the effects of this condition in you? Do you know what may cause these symptoms to manifest?

I guess the main effects are the trust issues and the social anxiety, which are probably intertwined. I have trust issues because someone who I trusted when I was very young took advantage of that. I have difficulty forming lasting relationships as a result of that and a hard time connecting with people who I really like because I can't open up. This is also part of the social anxiety. I'm able to look at it clearly now (again) and it doesn't mess with my head as much, eventually I'll get it back down to the quiet whisper I had it at before.

Can you tell me anything else? What happens when the condition begins to manifest itself in you, or rather how does it affect your daily life now?


I'm only super aware of it when I'm in the presence of older, stronger men. I had been working as a laborer on a construction site when I remembered and suddenly I didn't feel safe at work anymore, surrounded in a dark basement by men who could easily overpower me. It sounds ridiculous but it terrified me. Sometimes when older men talk to me a certain way in social situations now, like at big hippie dance parties or at a bar or on a bus, if it seems like they want something more from me I make every effort to get away from them as fast as possible. Still, I can remain calm about it. I'm sure eventually it won't affect me any more than any of my other memories.

How long have you had PTSD?

Technically since I was 4 years old I guess, I've only been aware of it for 8 or 9 months now. I know that's how doctors like to classify what I'm going through but I don't really look at it as something I have, just something that happened to me. It's not mine, I don't want it. I'm moving past it.

Do you have a support group? How do you cope with this condition?


I don't have a support group exactly. I went to a therapist a bunch of times and it helped me a lot. I also have a lot of great friends, many of whom are kind to me and all of whom are understanding, even if I haven't told them. Meditation and other yoga practices help too.

Do you ever have Blackouts?

Yes, but only if I'm drinking. Still, I've had quite a few. I didn't really see them as related to my PTSD but it's hard to say. I drink less now, I know when to stop so I can remember more of my night.
________________________________________________________________________________Cynthia’s interview


Cynthia - My Background: Oriental medicine foundation, Medical QiGong Therapist, Massage Therapist, Instructor - 15 years of passionately curious experience working with people in this field.


This is from a bodywork point of view.

As a member of the healthcare field what is your take on this condition?


I view PTSD as an intense emotional experience that is physically and energetically stuck in the body. Through a single or repeated event a "cocktail" of hormones, enzymes, internal chemicals and substances, and energy (Qi) is released into the body, however instead of moving through and being processed it becomes stored - either by physical constriction or lack of perspective to emotionally handle the situation - and often both of these together. In addition the surrounding society has not provided a way to acknowledge or release the trauma.

How would you personally go about to treat someone who has PTSD?

Very situational. First I would do a thorough Oriental medicine health intake and note any elements that stand out strongly. During this I would observe body language & choice of words - especially when the person talks about any aspect of the PTSD. This will show me the area that is most affected. Then deciding on treatment, I would mainly look for physical areas of the body that aren't flowing naturally or appropriately. For example, an area of chronic pain - how does the person hold this area? How do they let it move? What should the body be doing that it's not? Because this is a damp stagnation I would use a method that the person resonated with to actually treat them, with some of my top choices being Energy Healing, shaking and spontaneous movement, vibration, flower essences - essential oils - moxa - cupping, and all combined with some form of hands-on bodywork.

In your opinion, what is the worst mistake most health care providers make when dealing with someone who has PTSD?

They misunderstand that the body has a natural response after trauma to release it, and don't recognize or allow this to happen. For example, strapping a person down and medicating them to stop movement and shaking from happening. Also treating it as a psychiatric disorder and using very strong medications to subdue or help "manage" symptoms.

Why do you think PTSD is so prominent in this day and age?

First it is completely misunderstood. Second, we have traumatic situations like War and no cultural method of de-toxing afterwards, or ritual/ceremony to cleanse spiritually and re-enter the community to continue a "normal" life. An example I believe is effective is traditional Native practices of warriors returning and going through a phase of fasting, drumming/dancing ceremonies with spiritual cleansing, in addition to being highly valued by the tribe. Third, it has become an acceptable expectation. Lastly, it is a message on a cultural body level that is telling us something more and more loudly, but we as a society have yet to hear or comprehend what we are being shown.

How would you describe PTSD? Like what are the physiological aspects of this condition?

Strong internal chemical "cocktails" stuck in the tissues with a variety of triggers that cause them to release but they are not processed fully or resolved, so they keep happening over and over again. Whatever is in the chemical cocktail determines the physical and emotional symptoms that will be experienced, with a strong attitude of underlying fear.

Is there anything else you can tell me about this condition from your point of view?

There is fascinating research being done by Johns Hopkins University, starting in 2008 and ongoing, using psilocybin mushrooms to induce a deep spiritual experience that is showing a lot of success in completely transforming PTSD. This is very similar to what traditional Native practices would have done - with or without a hallucinogenic substance. I think the key is that there must be some kind of higher perspective on life and things that happen - not to make them right or wrong, but to understand life in a way that is altered from a purely physical reality. The spiritual experience touches the HeartMind, resets the tone and vibration being communicated to the whole Body, and the altered state of consciousness causes the HeartMind to immediately transcend the trauma. Due to reasons of legality, I use the bodywork and methods of treatment to help induce an altered state but without the use of hallucinogenics.
_______________________________________________________________________________Professional interview 2

My Name is Mike Tassin, I am LMHC and LMFTA (licensed Mental health Counselor) (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate ) I am a Army combat veteran so working with veterans is a passion of mine. I served 8 years in the Army and once I got out completed my MA in Marriage and Family Therapy from Chapman University. I have been practicing for about 3 years now. I also help with career counseling and other types of executive coaching in addition to working with other mental health disorders. PTSD is one of my main DX I treat due to the clients I work with.


As a member of the healthcare field what is your take on this condition?

To Me PTSD is a real and serious condition effecting between 11- 20 percent of the military and veteran population. It is a difficult and interconnected illness to treat at times due to factors such as co morbid illnesses i.e. Substance abuse, depression, and others. This is more than an individual illness this is a something that has a hold on the entire family and changes people lives. I feel we need to include the entire family in the treatment after the initial stages of treatment begin. Assist the client to begin to learn the triggers and develop a different story for what happened to cause the trauma then include the family in the new narrative in order to continue to build the supports. In short moving away from being a victim to being a survivor and learning how to gleam strength from the experience.

How would you personally go about to treat someone who has PTSD?

I tend to use CBT when treating Trauma but I also incorporate other methods such as visualization and muscle progression. I look at the session in 3 phases. A start to help the person relax, a middle where we are discussing the events, and the end where we are trying to relax again and close up the session.

In your opinion, what is the worst mistake most health care providers make when dealing with someone who has PTSD?

I think we need to be intentional about the manner in which we approach the client and their trauma. One mistake is having the client begin to explain all of their experiences before being taught how to ground themselves and to come back to current place they are in. It is also dangerous if the therapist is not sure on how to help the client close up as the session as it is coming to an end. Leaving the client open is one of the most dangerous ways to treat the clients. In addition develop a safety plan for the client to use when he or she is not in contact with you and so they know the people they can call in case a crisis arises.

Why do you think PTSD is so prominent in this day and age?

I think PTSD is getting more attention these days due to people linking it to more violent crimes and using it as a defense. In addition we are able to perform brain scans and have evidence that the activity in a brain of someone with PTSD is different than someone who does not have PTSD. Much of our medical research comes from the military community learning about it first through research and this has been common throughout history. The Army medical corp. is highly advance in it research. PTSD has been known as many things in history i.e. shell shocked syndrome, soldiers disease among others but with advancement and lessening the stigma has help us better understand and treat the disorder. With that said there are so many other unknowns with PTSD still.

How would you describe PTSD? Like what are the physiological aspects of this condition?

The Physiological aspects are different and yet common for many people. Many people are Hyper-viligent about their surroundings and this shows in their interactions with others from the way they enter and sit in a room, to the way they drive and sleep (or lack thereof). With the lack of sleep this can cause mood irritability, and loss of function and interest in doing daily activities. May people with PTSD sleep in the day where they feel safe and stay wake at night which can affect their ability to work, go to school, spend time with family, and increases drinking many times to fall asleep. I would also describe PTSD as the body’s way of protecting us from future damage during and after the time of trauma. People lose the ability to show emotion to their friends and family and they can lose the ability to form real bonds again with their loved one with can lead to isolation and add division in the family leading to many things to include divorce, emotional, physical abuse and suicide.

Is there anything else you can tell me about this condition from your point of view?


Encourage early intervention as this provides the best chance to recover. Remind people they are not weak for seeking treatment and they are worth investing in themselves.
________________________________________________________________________________Professional Interview 3

Lamar Gunter, MS in rehabilitation counseling, 10+years Mental Health, MAc Acupuncture, 14 years private practice. Have treated individuals with PTSD using acupuncture, herbs and homeopathic remedies. Lived with a family member suffering from PTSD.


As a member of the healthcare field what is your take on this condition?


From the perspective of Chinese medicine, PTSD is a Shen disturbance- a disturbance of the spirit. It's a serious condition if left untreated, that has ramifications not only on the person suffering but also those around him/her.

How would you personally go about to treat someone who has PTSD?

The people I have treated who experience PTSD have exhibited signs of possession, meaning they are not in control of their conscious functioning- the PTSD is. The first treatment is usually a 2 part treatment to restore control to the person.

In your opinion, what is the worst mistake most health care providers make when dealing with someone who has PTSD?


Ignoring it.

Why do you think PTSD is so prominent in this day and age?

PTSD is not a new thing. Just a different name. Used to be referred to as shell shock, then Battle fatigue. Then it simply disappeared from the DSM between WW II and Vietnam. Hysterical paralysis is no doubt also a version of PTSD. I suspect it's more prevalent today because of lifestyle issues, greater information accessibility, more visibility.

How would you describe PTSD? Like what are the physiological aspects of this condition?


Symptoms vary, but they usually have to do with impairment of sympathetic nervous system. something triggers a sympathetic response- usually something that is similar to the original incident- a siren, a loud bang, flashing lights. Physical symptoms include racing pulse, palpitations, spontaneous sweating, rapid shallow breathing. Other symptoms might include, insomnia, panic sensations, fear, fright, anger/rage.

Is there anything else you can tell me about this condition from your point of view?


People suffering from PTSD are best served when they are treated holistically. This isn't just a psychological problem. It requires us to pay attention to body mind and spirit, because this is a disharmony that affects all 3 levels of the being.
 _________________________________________________________________________________


An immense thank you goes out to all the wonderful people who came forward to help me with interviews. I understand it took a lot of courage for you to share your stories with me, and I am grateful for it all. It has taught me quite a bit about the condition and has even been inspiring to me to know that there are so many courageous people out there. And a special note to anyone who does suffer from PTSD, you are not alone, there are others out there willing to share their story and through that bring awareness to this growing epidemic in order to educate us all and find a way to stop PTSD. Thank you.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001923/

http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

www.Imgur.com/

http://www.nuhs.edu/admissions/oriental-medicine/

http://science.dodlive.mil/2011/06/20/acupuncture-makes-strides-in-treatment-of-brain-injuries-ptsd-video/

http://www.emory.edu/EMORY_REPORT/stories/2010/10/11/visit_meditation_kids.html

http://ezinearticles.com/?id=1840106&Chair-Massage-For-PTSD=

http://www.pacificcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-news/articles/759-massage-for-treatment-of-post-traumatic-stress-disorder.html
http://cmabw.com/wordpress/2011/massage-can-help-ptsd/

http://www.altmd.com/Specialists/Full-Throttle-Massage-Inc--Chattanooga-TN/Blog/Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder-PTSD--Can-Massage-H

A few brave people who were willing to step forward and share their stories for the interviews, their loved ones, and healthcare professionals.
If you are interested in sharing your own story and experiences feel free to email me at jezrobin@mail.com

1 comment:

Ryan Rusty said...

I agree that Disassociation, Panic attacks, Anxiety, and difficulty coping with ‘normal’ relationships. Some victims are prone to bursts of rage, or fits of uncontrollable crying, They will go out of their way to bypass anything that may recall them of the traumatic happening.


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