As usual my wellness posts are inspired by my clients. Today I saw a client who said “I just wish I could go back before it all happened.” She was describing her life as a well adjusted adult with friends, hobbies, and what she perceived as purpose. Then she was raped. Now EVERYTHING for her has changed and she struggles daily to function. She is suffering with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. This disorder gained a lot of attention with soldiers however it effects others as well. For this woman the thought of a man being behind her sends her into an anxiety attack. She cannot imagine dating because with dating comes sex most times and she has lost all desire. Even if a man is polite she sees him as a threat. Needless to say her relationship with her boyfriend is over. The final thing that brought her to therapy was when her mom looked at her and said “move on a lot of people have been raped and they put their lives back together.” She cried as she told me that she didn’t know how to stop smelling him, hearing his voice, and thinking about the incident. She began to sob as she went on to tell how one night destroyed her life. She is not sleeping, she is angry and ALWAYS afraid.
Then she looked up at me with tearful brown eyes and asked “now how do I get back to before.” As a woman I wanted to hug her and tell her how strong she was for even showing up today and that she could certainly get through this. As a therapist I did some other intervention that involves asking her to describe before and identify her negative thoughts.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. Below I have detailed the symptoms.
Symptoms of PTSD fall into three main categories:
1. "Reliving" the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity
· Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
· Repeated upsetting memories of the event
· Repeated nightmares of the event
· Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event
· Emotional "numbing," or feeling as though you don't care about anything
· Feeling detached
· Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma
· Having a lack of interest in normal activities
· Showing less of your moods
· Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event
· Feeling like you have no future or a sense of a shortened future
· Difficulty concentrating
· Startling easily
· Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you
· Feeling more aware (hypervigilance)
· Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
· Having trouble falling or staying asleep
Reading this post does not make you an expert. If you or someone you know needs help GO AND GET IT!!!! You can regain control of your life.