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Push the Stress Deep: PTSD Part I

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Push the Stress Deep. Post traumatic stress, AKA PTSD is known but not well understood in my opinion.

We hear of soldiers that return from war, survivors from kidnapping and domestic abuse victims than can all be considered to have this disorder. What does it mean? How does it show up.

In my “Push the stress deep” series I will share how post traumatic stress appeared for me because I feel it is important to understand this disorder as we are caught up in our social media that seems to only brag of wonderful lives and events that never show us as marred or defective in anyway.

One of the first impacts that abuse had for me was trust. I didn’t trust anything man made. Elevators, bridges, bungee cords, airplanes and fast moving cars.

Of course I had to cross bridges, ride elevators and get on planes but the entire time I was in a state of panic. To look at me you would think that I was in line to be executed because my rapid heartbeat, sweating and shaking would give me away. No one really questioned it either. It was just Ramona being weird.

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You see I recognized in my perception that many people rode elevators, crossed bridges and got on planes without incident, but that wasn’t my mistrust. My mistrust was that the plane was safe as long as I wasn’t on it. I totally trusted a plane with my daughter on it alone or even if I was with her because God would look after her, but not me.

It was God in my mind that was targeting me. If something bad was going to happen, it was going to be me.

I nearly drowned when I was four, I was nearly killed in the Miami riots and I was kidnapped while passed out drunk in a car parked in front of a bar. I escaped all these near death experiences but I never felt safe again.

While I have undergone much therapy it took forever to shake the fear that I was riding on borrowed time. Sometimes I felt like I could cheat God from removing me from this earth by not getting on the plane, staying on routes that wouldn’t force me over a bridge and taking the stairs.

I wasted much of my time in panic attacks and looking back I realize what a waste it was and how harmful it was to my health to spend so much time in “fight or flight” mode.

Many of these fears have subsided as I have gotten healthier but last month I drove to New York City and I took the back roads to miss any major bridges. I did however have to drive through the Holland Tunnel which wasn’t so bad. I felt so brave that I decided to take the short way home and go for the bridge but I chickened out at the last minute and rerouted with my GPS to go the back way halfway home.

I got off the freeway and thought I would miss any major bridge. I was wrong. About a half an hour off the highway I hit a major bridge. I am 53 years old and as I approached this bridge my heart began to race, my hands were shaking so bad that I could hardly hang on to the steering wheel and for the first time in a very long time I was loosing control over myself. I prayed to God the entire crossing to keep this bridge in tact until I reached the other side. Once I crossed it I was forced to pull my car over in order to get myself together and calm.
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You see PTSD is treatable but some trauma never leaves you. While you may not have the luxury to avoid all the stimuli that causes it to reappear, through recognizing it you can survive. In the past I would have driven 500 miles out of my way rather than cross the bridge. So I have grown and that is important.

For all of you that have experienced stress that has traumatized you for life I advise you to get help. Through professional help and exercises learned in therapy I no longer have to live on the edge of death.

Please join me again as I will talk more about PTSD and some of the personal impact it has had on me

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Posted by on June 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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My Panic Room

When I was a little girl I spent a great deal of time in a panic. Mostly the panic was about my death. I was afraid that I would die. There didn’t seem to be any logic to the theory that I should die. I just worried about it constantly until it became routine to obsess about it.  My near death experiences would keep me in a space that separated me from everyone else. There wasn’t anyone that I felt I could tell about this feeling. I would tell my parents that I was afraid that I was going to die and they would reinforce that fact.

I really wanted to share what that place is like. What it is like to be so afraid that nothing else in the world is going on. The anxiety would usually begin with me noticing a change in my skin. I would find a new freckle or mole and off I would go to my panic room. I would spend days obsessing about it. How it would turn into cancer or something else that would end my life. I just knew that this little mark on my body would have all of my attention. I became known to many in my family as “the nun” because I would dress from head to toe covering as much of my skin as I could. I would wear long sleeves, pants and a high collar. My face and hands were all that I could bare.

As I got older the panic was still with me, probably even more so because I was armed with so much more information about disease. I remember on one occasion when I was breaking out of my shell a bit, and I was getting more comfortable with showing skin that I decided to go to the beach with my sister and the kids. I drove all the way to Tampa to find that my sister had invited a friend of hers. Her friend was married to a Dermatologist. I went straight into my panic.  I told my sister that I couldn’t go because she had invited someone who could look at my skin. Even though my sister tried to explain that her friend was only married to a Dermatologist, I kept insisting that I was sure her husband told her things about his work, and if she saw something on my skin she could probably tell that it was bad. So I didn’t go to the beach that day. I didn’t go for many days. I had to ride this out for a while.

Nothing seemed to make me feel better about it ever. If everyone around me got sick, and I didn’t, then I suspected that something had to be wrong with me. I should be getting sick like everyone else. What is wrong? I was constantly asking about myself.If I happened to get sick, well, then I knew I would die of a cold.

I spent way too much of my life in this room. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else when I was in there. I couldn’t watch any movies that dealt with illness because I would be forced to that room and the only thing that I knew about treating this condition was to stay away from things that stimulated the panic. Like a real panic room, I sat separated from everyone in the house. No one knew that I was there, except for me.

Things are different today; I’ve since then had quite a bit of therapy regarding this ailment. It turns out that I was afraid of me. I didn’t want the world to see me, so I made myself invisible by slipping into this room. I didn’t want the world to see just how flawed I was. It wasn’t for the reasons that you may think. You see if the world saw me, they would comment on what they saw and then if I heard it, it would become true. As long as no one said a thing, I would be fine. I spent a couple of decades of my life trying to escape it, only to find I was a hostage to it all along.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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