Remnants Of PTSD

I was reading Male Survivor's blog a minute ago and he had posted about Post Rape Syndrome and Post Traumatic Syndrome. It got me to thinking just what part of those I still have left from the last rape in '96 and the incest my grandfather inflicted on me. I've been feeling remarkably healthy mentally lately and was thinking I might have let go of some of that. Let's see:

Here's what he posted:

Rape Trauma Syndrome & PTSD from queendom.com

PTSD is one of the anxiety disorders. Symptoms of PTSD develop in people who have experienced an event that is outside the range of usual human suffering and that would be extremely stressful for nearly anybody. Such an event would impose "a serious harm or threat to one's life or physical integrity, a serious threat to one's children, spouse, or other close relatives or friends." PTSD may develop after seeing sudden destruction of the patient's home or the entire community, or witnessing someone's being killed or injured. (DSM-IV, 1994).

The traumatic events that can trigger PTSD may be classified into several categories. First, the person may experience naturally occurring disaster, such as earthquakes, floods or volcano eruptions. Second, the disorder may be precipitated by tragic accidents, such as air crash, very serious car accident. Third, the stressor can be one of category of manmade catastrophes which may be exemplified by wars, concentration camps and torture. The rape trauma syndrome is a special case of PTSD. in which the rape victim suffers from symptoms caused by the experience of sexual assault (DSM-IV, 1994).

The symptoms are similar for all types of PTSD. Obviously, not all patients who suffer from PTSD experience all the symptoms. Also, the symptoms vary slightly according to the precipitating trauma. The DSM-IV (1994) states these symptoms:

1. recurrent, persistent and distressing reexperiencing of the trauma through distressing recollections, dreams, sudden acting and feeling as if the event was reoccurring (reliving the trauma, illusions, hallucinations, flashbacks);
2. persistent avoidance of stimuli that remind of the trauma, for example, the patient avoids thoughts and feelings associated with the trauma, or he/she may avoid situations and activities that arouse the traumatic recollections;
3. psychogenic amnesia;
4. numbing of general responsiveness (that was not present before the trauma occurred), for example, the patients show markedly diminished interest in significant activities; they may feel detachment or estrangement from others; their range of affect may be restricted or they may have sense of a foreshortened future;
5. persistent symptoms of increased arousal, which involve irritability and outburst of anger, troubled concentrating, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response; they show physiological reaction to events or situations that symbolize or resemble the trauma;
6. the disturbance causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important area of functioning;
7. patient has to experience symptoms for at least one month before PTSD may be diagnosed.

1. Okay, yesterday while I was doing my laundry, I had my Zune mp3 player going and I heard a song by Otep that was talking about incest. That caused me to go into a cold sweat and get super nauseous. My heart rate increased and I could feel my face muscles tighten imperceptibly. If I hadn't happened to hear that song, though, I would not have been thinking about my grandfather and what he did. I guess that happens to everyone if they have a strong reminder of their abuse no matter how long ago it happened. I don't really know how often that happens. I don't know if it happens enough anymore to be labeled "persistent".

2. I do actively avoid things that remind me of my grandfather and the rape in '96. I did drive to that house one day a couple of years ago and I took pictures of it. He probably doesn't live there anymore, but it was sort of a victory for me nonetheless. I also have driven by the two houses where my grandparents lived and where the abuse took place and have taken pictures of them. It makes me cry and relive those experiences (I don't remember much of what happened with my grandfather but I remember nearly everything about the last rape). So, I generally avoid those places. My aunt's house reminds me so much of my grandparent's place that it scares me. I don't go there anymore at all. So, I guess you could say that I am "persistent" in my avoidance of specific stimuli that would trigger those memories. I really didn't know that was considered a part of PTSD. I just thought it was a smart thing to do since I really wanted to get on with my life and not be stuck in those memories. This is one of my coping mechanisms.

3. Psychogenic Amnesia-this I have big time concerning the things that happened with my grandfather. Those memories are triggered by smells or being at my aunt's house. Sometimes I have nightmares about it and they are very specific, but they traumatize me so much that I don't remember them for very long. After one of those, the only thing on my mind is to comfort myself from that fright. So, I guess my brain just blanks it out or something. That's probably a learned coping mechanism from when Daddyboy was molesting me. I'm so very good at dissociating.

4. As for the numbing of general responsiveness and decreased interest in significant activities- I still have that somewhat although it's A LOT better. I finally got a job and I'm going every day and working hard at it (and succeeding!); I started showering more and just generally taking better care of myself (that could be better though); my house isn't a complete wreck anymore (it's still cluttered but at least it's clean and I clean the litter boxes). I went through a period of a couple of years where I just didn't want to go anywhere. That's getting better too. I feel like I'm more willing and able to socialize on a somewhat normal-for-me level. I still feel somewhat detatched from the herd, though. I think, though, that that is because I've always been sort of an individualist and wanted to buck the system. I pride myself on being different and so I think I've purposely created that distance between myself and some other people.

5. The increased arousal thing is something I still have trouble with: I don't like loud noises. I can't hear myself think if things get really loud and then I start to get anxious and feel like I'm being smothered. It makes me feel like I'm not in control and that, I think, is what scares me. I've been hypervigilant all my life. I don't ever remember not being that way. For example, I get scared if someone follows me in their car for what I consider to be too long. I'll start to take alternate routes to go home and even go out of my way several minutes if I think someone is following me. I have an exaggerated startle response. If someone comes up from behind me and gooses me in the ribs for fun I would probably right hook them. That all has to do with the fact that I don't like to be touched unless I give permission for another person to touch me: verbal or non-verbal. It's another control issue. I feel like I should have control over what is done to my body. Also, surprise loud noises startle me more than the average person. It takes me a long time to get over a loud bang, for instance. I have to consciously tell myself (in my head) that I'm ok and tell my heart to quit trying to beat its way out of my chest. So...yeah...exaggerated startle response. Check.

6. I'm just getting over having these things cause me a significant impairment in my work and social life. That's not to say that it won't happen again. It probably will, but for now at least, I'm functioning pretty well.

7. The last thing says that I have to experience these symptoms for a month before I could be diagnosed with PTSD. Well, I've been diagnosed with it already. I've had these symptoms since I was about 2 years old. My mom told me a couple of weeks ago that she could tell when I started acting differently as a toddler. She said one of the things that used to happen was that I would just stare out into space at nothing at all; as if I were in some sort of trance. She thought at first that I was staring at something specific, but then she would move me and my gaze would never change even though the vista had changed. This started happening when I was around 2 or 3. I'm guessing this is my baby brain's attempt to block out what Daddyboy was doing to me. I learned to live in my head a lot. Even by the time I was in Elementary School and Junior High, my teachers told my mother that I would just blank out like that for hours at a time. What's amazing to me is that she didn't suspect anything. What happened was that I was sent to the "special" class for children with learning difficulties. I didn't have a learning difficulty. I had a grandfather-fucking-me difficulty. How can you articulate something like that, though, when you are only a child? You just do what your parents tell you to no matter how much you hate it.

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