June 22, 2008

Experiencing PTSD

PTSD is a life-long endeavor; there is no cure for it. The triggering traumatic event changes the landscape of the mind, it no longer works in the same fashion that it did before. The mind has been rewired; the neuropathways have been altered into a continuous loop. The PTSD triggering incident converts the fight or flight response in the primitive portion of our brain. Imagine having that scared feeling you get without the fear while keeping the bodily reactions; the tenseness, the adrenalin rush, the mind racing, heightened senses, and the hyper response reflex to react without thinking.

That is the mode of survival, now take out the danger part, you are safe. YOU KNOW you are safe, but that nagging sense that tells you "YOU ARE IN DANGER" for your life remains. You FEEL it in your bones, your rational mind says otherwise, but that does not take away the feeling that something is going to go wrong, terribly wrong. Imagine wanting to jump out of your skin, literally that's how it feels.

This can drive a person crazy; it does on a daily basis. Ok, now imagine that YOU DO NOT KNOW that you have this condition. Ok, now throw in the fear! Go out into the world and see how long it takes for you to find some trouble. See if you can properly discern an appropriate response in everyday situations, as regular social interactions have become a threat to you. You do not know why, but you just know it. Ok, throw in some denial, alright a bunch of denial. See if you don't end up divorced, incarcerated, homeless, unemployable, homicidal, suicidal or dead.

Right now writing about this is bringing it all to the forefront. Right now I am feeling all of these things. It is all racing around in my mind, a fevered pitch. I want to lock my door; it is open to let in some light in. But I have this obsession to go and lock it and shut it all out. Except that I know it will not lock out how I feel.

I have found that mediation helps considerably. If I close my eyes, concentrate on my breathing, imagining each part of my body is relaxing, I take my mind to every part of my body and relax it. Letting the tension go, to do just the opposite of what my body intelligence tells my mind. Let go, my mind does not command, it just imagines the letting go...I have a Buddha statue in my living room. I find that the image helps foster the feeling that I am looking for. Central to this is the breathing, slow deep breathing filling the upper part of the torso and the belly, and Belly breathing. When the body is relaxed go back to concentrating on the breathing. Do this long enough and with practice the mind will cease thoughts, suspending into everything and nothing.

Gotta go...from one extreme to another, that's my inner workings.

Hope this helped you understand what someone goes through with PTSD.


  1. I'm dating a former Marine who literally just told me he suffers from PTSD. He did this in text messages. I haven't seen him in a week, and he told me three days ago. He said he's having a very down period right now and is isolating himself even from his kids (he's a single dad, sole custody) who are teens. He is about to start counseling. Is this 'normal' to 'go to ground' to find equilibrium at times? I'm worried about him and he's not answering his phone...

  2. It is part of the process of reeling with PTSD. Normal, hhmmm...lets say that isolating from everyone has roots in self-preservation. Whether or not this constituents an emergency depends on what he said to you. Did he say anything about wanting to end it? Or something of that nature?

    In the beginning of recovery is critical concerning suicidal ideation (thinking about it). Does he have male friends that can go and check on him? Maybe text him and tell him you would like to bring over a casserole? Tell him you are not staying that you just wanted to let him know you were thinking of him and to bring him something to eat.

    By doing this you can gauge how his state of mind by his appearance, clothes washed, house dirty or tidy, is he disheveled? Are you close enough to his teenagers to talk with them? Tell him that you are here for him and that you are trying to understand. Give him this website address.

    I would suggest that you do this tactfully, his nerves are raw right now. Do not text him to much. But if this is the only way he will communicate this is a good sign. If you do go to his house, if he is drunk leave immediately, PTSD and intoxication DO NOT mix and the outcome can be severe.

    In the left side panel I have compiled some resources for you and your veteran.

    May God bless and guide you.

  3. Scott, he has two children that live full time with him, two teens. They make sure he eats, I'm pretty sure of that. He has suffered from PTSD for 20 years - this is NOT new for him. It wasn't until last few years that he got help though with counseling. I don't have any signs of him being suicidal, no. I haven't heard from him in 4 days and have left a few texts and a couple voice mails. Should I now stop all contact, or...? I truly don't know what to do when I don't hear from him...

  4. Trish, with your veteran dealing with this for the last twenty years I would give him some room. Have you both started dating? Are you just now becoming close with each other? This could factor in his behavior.

    My girlfriend and I went through a phase of getting close and then withdrawing. We took our time and gave ourselves permission to feel the way we felt. It has been an evolution of deeper intimacy and fear of this unknown aspect with her and I.

    Intimacy to a soldier or veteran with PTSD can be felt as both a blessing and a threat. In war we develop a closeness and kinship with our battle buddies, everything else is outside this sphere, termed the "threat zone." This level of intimacy forms at the base of our our being. We may be unaware that we are operating from this perspective and how this relates to our significant others.

    It seems as though this is his pattern of coping for the time being. PTSD can become overwhelming and debilitating and periodic isolation does help. I am not saying this is the most effective way to cope, just one he has been using.

    His consideration of going to counseling has monumental implications. He is sick and tired of being sick and tired.

  5. I have been seeing him for over 7 months now - dating, yes. I have been at his place tons of times, and he has been to mine. I have hung out with him alone, but many times we hang out with his kids too. Yes, I give him a LOT of credit for reaching out and getting counseling. He had it for a couple of hears steady, then the local VA pulled his counselor and that threw him for a loop. Luckily, he had an old counselor a couple of hours from here he can still go see so that's who he is seeing today (today is first appointment back with old counselor...) I'm not sure why it took him over 6 months to start up counseling again - maybe it was because he was upset at VA for what they did, maybe it was because I came into his life...who knows...but I still don't know what to do if he continues NO communication...sigh

  6. Practice patience as he has suggested.

    I have to go to school,will be back later tonight.

  7. I understand patience as a concept, but in practice does that mean doing...nothing? no text or voice mail and just waiting, no matter how long, for him to get in touch?

  8. You have done something already, give him some time. Then contact him by taking him the casserole.

  9. I've been looking at your posts comments here from last month and have one more question - you said you and your girlfriend went through a phrase of getting close then withdrawing, a cycle if you will that repeated. How long did this go on for over and over? Will has stated in his texts he wanted me to know what I might be facing 'now and again', infering cycles just like you said. I know everyone is different, but I'd appreciate some sort of gauge to know how it _may_ go. How long did you and your gf go through that?

  10. I posted here sometimes last year about my Marine son being in jail for Domestic Violence and his girl being angry because he messed around on her. Anyway, she being a scorn woman after hearing all the stories of my son messing around on her from other women, put a robbery and burgalry charge on him for alleged taking of her necklace out of spite. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison a few days ago. He has been in jail for 13 months already because the judge slapped a $125,00 bail on him, and now he has to do 16 more months in prison. I got the VAMC to go to the jail and have him assessed by a VAMC Clinical Social Worker. The conclusion and recommendation was, he's suffering from PTSD and they recommend he would benefit from treatment. Another Veteran Bureaus Affairs guy did an evaluation and said that my son had brain injury. I guess he and my son discussed what he went through. The judge gave him prison instead of healthcare. What a bitch!

    1. You can go to This blog it is run by Sue Lamoureux, her husband is a Combat PTSD Veteran, he was incarcerated. She can offer resources and support.

  11. Go seek out your congressman. Always remember fight like he'll for your children .Don't wait until they crucify them.
    Get off your ass get a lawyer.

    Signed mama of a Calvary soldier with PTSD


Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee