Sunday, June 30, 2013

PTSD Awareness Month + Easy 4th of July Manicure

Hi sweetie!

I found out today through a post my husband saw on facebook that this month is PTSD awareness month.

So here I am hopping on the bandwagon just in time before the month is over, whew.  OK, who else knew it was PTSD awareness month, anyone? No?  Not me!

I only learned the facts about it recently, when I watched the psychiatrist testify in the Jodi Arias trial for the defense. He read aloud the things that make up a diagnosis of PTSD from the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version - IV, a book doctors use to diagnose) so I understood for the first time exactly how it is diagnosed.

The diagnostic criteria are a little something like this:

309.81    DSM-IV Criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
A. The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following have been present: 
(1) the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others (2) the person's response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.Note: In children, this may be expressed instead by disorganized or agitated behavior.
B. The traumatic event is persistently reexperienced in one (or more) of the following ways: 
(1) recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections of the event, including images, thoughts, or perceptions. Note: In young children, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the trauma are expressed.
(2) recurrent distressing dreams of the event. Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content.

(3) acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring (includes a sense of reliving the experience, illusions, hallucinations, and dissociative flashback episodes, including those that occur upon awakening or when intoxicated). Note: In young children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur.
(4) intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
(5) physiological reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.
C. Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by three (or more) of the following: 
(1) efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma 
(2) efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma 
(3) inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma 
(4) markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities 
(5) feeling of detachment or estrangement from others 
(6) restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings) 
(7) sense of a foreshortened future (e.g., does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span)
D. Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by two (or more) of the following: 
(1) difficulty falling or staying asleep
(2) irritability or outbursts of anger
(3) difficulty concentrating
(4) hypervigilance
(5) exaggerated startle response
E. Duration of the disturbance (symptoms in Criteria B, C, and D) is more than one month.
F. The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Specify if:
Acute: if duration of symptoms is less than 3 months
Chronic: if duration of symptoms is 3 months or more
Specify if:
With Delayed Onset: if onset of symptoms is at least 6 months after the stressor


PTSD sufferers lives can be affected to an extreme degree.  This disorder is devastating and life threatening when it is manifest in the most extreme cases, not just to the sufferer, but to their loved ones, friends and even strangers.  Our nation's military personnel are said to suffer from this with alarming frequency, suffering to the point of suicide in some terrible instances.  This is one of the most heartbreaking truths of war which we do not discuss in polite society, but it is real.  

So I want to raise awareness of PTSD today by talking about it a bit, and also by sharing my own experience. I didn't know I might even have it until I requested my medical files and saw "PTSD" in the notes of a doctor I had once seen.  

I got many symptoms of it from different things in my life. As a young woman, I got shades of it when I was raped as a teenager. Most recently, I felt was traumatized when I moved in a new neighborhood. After years of saving, looking, dreaming and finally hauling all our stuff we gathered for the home of our dreams, I was bullied and cursed at by my new neighbors and and robbed soon afterwards by persons unknown. Hmmmm, right?  Anyway.

I had trouble sleeping because of what happened. I couldn't eat for a while, and lost weight I was so distressed.  I had outbursts of rage and ranted about the situation.  I could not let the situation go, I kept going over and over it in my mind, talking about it again and again.  When I walked outside my door, I was hypervigilant, looking left and right and right again to make sure I didn't see anyone scary. If I thought I saw something I jumped and gasped and looked over my shoulder.  I did not go outside for a time, and I still do not like going to a certain spot on my street.  If I recall the situation my heart may pound and it is like I am right back there.  If I see a car the same make and model of the one that that is associated with the incident, I tense up. If I see the person  I tense up.  My heart rate goes up and I am in defense mode.  This interfered with my life for a while.  This, I know, compared to a soldier's experience in war, was "fluffy pink girly trauma lite", but it still affected my life in significant ways.

The good news here is that I have learned how to deal with this bully, and now I am thankful to God for giving me this person as my neighbor, because now I know how to deal with a very mean person!  Here is what I did!

I put her in the shade.  My husband and I redid our front garden ourselves. I went right out in my front yard and made it go from a weed patch to a flower garden full of bees and butterflies and now I am meeting nice neighbors and collecting compliments!  Turns out my bully isn't so popular around here LOL, and many people like me because we bought a foreclosure and made it look much better,  one of them told us we upgraded the neighborhood.

Trauma, if we live it is likely thatwe will suffer them, in some form.  Most of us get past the traumas in time, with help of supportive friends and family. I have.  And the good news is, if we can get past them, they make us stronger.  

The hard part is getting past trauma.  For me the key is turning toward positive things in life, to distract myself from the bad things.  For me, gardening is a very positive thing.  The love of family or a friend can be a very positive and healing thing also.  Love of animals, art, beauty, anything that takes your mind to a higher plane of thought and distracts from things you dislike and fear can elevate your mind and spirit and temporarily then permanently heal the mind from trauma, though a scar remains.

If someone suffers from PTSD, they probably need help to recover their peace of mind and tranquility.  They need patience, reassurance, love and understanding, just like we all do.  They also need a little bit of a break sometimes, because they may come off a little testy, or grumpy, but really, they are just trying to deal with things the best they can.  Maybe they just need someone to listen to their stories again and again until they don't come up so often, and fade away.  Maybe they need someone to let them know it will be ok.  Drugs or pills or alcohol or a suicide are not the answer, but that is what some sufferers reach for.

What they may need is a someone to reach out to them, hold their hand or give them a big hug, just a hug from someone who cares.

If you have suffered PTSD, or have had a trauma, here you go (((((HUG)))))) Everything will be alright, no matter what.

Here is an easy 4th of July manicure in support of all PTSD sufferers, I wish you freedom from your pain as soon as is possible! I used:

Wet n Wild White Creme
Opi Pink Shatter
OPI Blue Shatter
Fergie Hollywood Walk of Fame
Fergie New Year's Kiss
Icing Patriotic

I am holding a  new scarf I got at Forever 21, though it is too hot to wear it for the 4th, I thought at the time it was a better idea than a flag t shirt. Plus I couldn't find one I liked : /

My right hand. I hope you forgive my mess, I just wanted to show the cool nail cracks I got there too, I didn't have patience for clean up.


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