Tuesday, August 18, 2015


(Joe W., one of our faithful readers, asked me to blog about post trauma stress. This is an encore, especially for Joe.)

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It surprised me the first time I heard sexual assault linked with the idea of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and yet it fit. Until then I'd associated PTSD with military veterans who continued to relive their horrible ordeal. When I was a kid, the experts used the terms shell shock or combat stress

My connection began when I read an article about PTSD and learned about their having flashbacks and recurring dreams. I said aloud, "That describes many of us survivors."

In my first year of healing, those flashbacks occurred several times a week. I felt as if the abuse were happening all over again. At other times, especially when I faced an extremely emotional situation, I numbed out, which was also listed among the symptoms.

One man who wrote me privately told me about his PTSD and said, "When the flashbacks occurred, I dealt with them by drinking them away. I called it recreational drinking, but I was self-medicating."

It's not just the symptoms, but how we react. For some men, the effect is debilitating. I was fortunate because I'm a fulltime, freelance writer. For three months after I started my healing, I didn't work much and I was able to stall on projects. Because the pain and the memories were so new and invasive, I told friends I was just taking off a little time for myself—it lasted three months.

I wasn't cured, but during those three months, an almost nightly recurring dream stopped. The flashbacks came less often with lower intensity.

I'm still not fully healed,
but I'm getting closer all the time.


Joseph said...

It was only within the last month that I realized the anxiety attacks I have experienced off and on for all my adult like were connected with the abuse in childhood. The psychological abuse started about the age of 5. There was a sexual event at that age as well.

Mark Cooper said...

A couple years ago my counselor identified some of what I was going through as PTSD. I was a bit surprised, but very relieved. Knowing that PTSD is part of my experience has helped me to be more gentle with myself when things aren't going well, when anxiety and fear seem to be taking control.

Prior to that, I felt like it was my fault, that I didn't have enough faith. That I was being a bad person when panic took over.

Roger Mann said...

I can so relate to Mark. I had no idea PTSD was a part of my make up. I took the test and was shocked that it said I was over 90 percent probability. Then a counselor gave me a PTSD test, pretty lengthy, and I scored even higher. As I began to go through the questions I began to identify much of me behavior and feelings in the questions. I am still kind of stunned and not sure what to think. I honestly did not believe it at first. Isn't that for guys who have been in War or some terrible accident or trauma? I just never associated all of what I went through as anything but normal.

Now that I have that to work with I am recognizing the symptoms and able to slow down and see what is going on and try to derail it before I react. It has been very helpful but unnerving to say the least.

Unknown said...

I was also diagnosed with ptsd from childhood sexual abuse. I still do not understand how that diagnosis helps me. Due to heavy travel for business I am often alone in hotels where I can get into depressive cycles that are triggered by something subcommittee about some rooms.

How has that diagnosis specifically helped you or you were able to use it to heal. Please know that my prayers are with all of you on this message board and please keep me in yours...

Roger Mann said...

I can tell you the diagnosis has helped me understand my behavior. I am more aware of the symptoms and when I see them coming out in me I can work to change. My wife can sometimes see them before I do and can help me also. The world of triggers is a mine field and having someone who can help navigate is gold. There were so many things I took for granted as just my personality, just the way things were. Now I understand what is going on in my head and can work to respond differently now that I know it is something I can change and not just who I am or the way I must be.

just my thoughts

Unknown said...

Thank you Roger.

I am still trying to get a handle on heading this off.


Unknown said...

I had PTSD since childhood I also live with a very severe stammer, I'm in recovery after years of being humiliated and ridiculed, I turned to prostitutes adult porn and wanting to go a swingers club to prove I was normal, I also took cocaine and ecstasy and vodka, I've been divorced 8 years and been clean for 7 years, I took up painting to stop me from killing myself, I still live with the pain and traumatized but I'm rebuilding my life, my childhood was severe sexually physically and mentally raped beaten and drowned in the bath.
I'm close to no one for being honest.
Male survivors have very little help or understanding.
I'm a survivor not a victim,
I'm not perfect and never have but my upbringing never helped.
But I was a loving caring protective hard working father, compassion is very short

Anonymous said...

Hi Jonathan,
I really like what you said," I'm a survivor not a victim." And its the same way I feel about myself. So many struggles, sexual abuse, rejection, confussion, but at the end,only the love of God kept me going forward to become what He wants me to be.

Golden City Muse said...

Yes, sin is now normal in this world, and all that goes along with it; pain , hurt, sorrow, trauma, grief, loss, etc.
So what I try to focus on is that it is not good [or healthy as presented by Cec].
But YHWH IS Good. And he can handle my anger at Him and the situation.
And that is helpful for me.