So a lot of you may not know this but I feel far beyond the help of a therapist or psychologist of any kind. I’d been seeing a great pain psychologist at Montefiore but she just always seems so caring and yet nothing can be done from that standpoint she’s never recommended going to a psychiatrist she knows who will evaluate me and get me on stronger antidepressants. I don’t need a whole lot but Cymbalta 60mg is certainly not cutting it for me I still think about death nearly constantly when I am not distracting myself like I am now with this blog entry. Today I wanted to talk about the PTSD I have, how it’s different from, exactly how as well as why it can be such a worrisome for both the patients, caregivers, and family members, and lastly today my mission is to describe the flashbacks to you…I just realized that’s a lot to cover in a single blog post so perhaps some of that will wait for more parts to this entry!
I haven’t really told many people this especially co-worker and managers at my non-profit jobs. I make no profit from them but I am sad to say my activity has slowed to a crawl compared to my 2-6 articles a day all of last year. The truth is I don’t sleep when it’s dark outside unless I am absolutely exhausted, I am terrified of it. Why? I’ve never been afraid of the dark its just both when I am most prone to intense flashbacks, pain with no medication relief, and it’s when the most cluster headaches occur. Anyone who suffers cluster headaches will tell you insomnia is quite a common symptom especially for those that get hit hard at night. I still hate them, but welcome the occasional cluster when my vasculitis flare pain gets too complex at least a cluster headache condenses all my pain to one area of concentrated drill to the head type pain! If it gets anywhere near a 10 obviously I take the O2 but usually if the cluster stays contained to a 5 or below lately I just channel it into my personal painkiller for the time being. Some might not agree with my methods but hey I have multiple chronic issues here and this is the best way I’ve found to handle it in the simplest way possible.
Now for a topic that hits home for a lot of families especially families that are victims of any sort of tragedy especially those of law enforcement personnel and the military spouses who have a better half overseas somewhere doing their duty. I’s like to thank all the servicemen and servicewomen for protecting this country. I want to discuss a delicate topic a lot of people deal with after any mental trauma even if they try to hide it amongst their peers, it WILL come out at home best admit you might have a problem early on than try to smother your wife thinking she’s somehow the enemy during a bad flashback in your sleep that can be extremely vivid for those who aren’t patients. Everything they’re doing is very real to them so it’s essential people this sensitive get their home well sound proofed or prepare to be awoken with every plane flyby or firecracker that some mischievous kid sets off not knowing all the animals and people they’re likely tormenting. It happens in my neighborhood all the time and we are supposed to have this system so great police can triangulate gunshots yet they don’t event track these people down and warn them of all the veterans they’ve probably scared half to death! Certain sounds, smells, and visual stimuli can set off a flashback. During the patient can act in any number of ways from inappropriate to inebriated so it’s crucial that everyone around the patient be aware of the condition, and any telltale signs of a that way suspicions of odd behaviors can be detected early on and the situation as unique as each one is can be assessed.By the way odd behavior is not a veteran cowering during fireworks or diving for cover, that’s a mentally reinforced reflex that remains strong in their mind and the fireworks can sound similar to simple mortars used to shell American patrols in the Middle Eastern region throughout this horrid war on terror.
I’d say the worst situation is if you have someone with PTSD lash out at you physically. I am able to control my attack pretty well and have never lashed out violently. I’ve heard doctors say that it has a lot to do with one’s base personality. If that’s true then it would make sense because me lashing out at anyone violently would just be uncharacteristic of me, heck even making a rude comment wouldn’t be the usual me. If someone does lash out physically try not to harm them in the process of disarming them or calming them down. However if you need the neighbor to come over because you’re barricaded in the bathroom after your husband got too drunk and it triggered his PTSD he knows that’s a trigger so call 911 and anyone nearby a neighbor to try to come help you subdue your spouse for a while if he/ she seems dangerous during episodes. If so then it needs to be taken care of before your loved one can be home and free of any monitoring professionally of their PTSD. They DO NOT need a mental or psych ward your loved one and /or relative is NOT crazy, he/she suffer tragically realistic flashbacks to bad times. All family and friends can offer is support not complete understanding, every case is different for example I am very different from someone who went to Iraq and suffer PTSD due to experiencing friends dying to IED explosions. Yet we are all similar in ways too personally I am here for anyone who suffer from this terrible illness, I first got it when I kept dreaming of one of the few neurological procedures I ever complained truly hurt badly. One day I woke up drenched in sweat asking for a nurse that’s initially when I thought ok something odd is going on.
Until now I hadn’t really discussed any reasons for my insomnia besides pain. That sure played a factor but pain and insomnia due to it don’t explain some of my outbursts of emotion at times. Yes migraines and my terminal illness Eosinophilic Polyangiitis with Granulomatous or EGPA also know as Churg-Strauss Syndrome both cause outbursts and can make one seem on the verge of being bi-polar. Luckily I have a fiancé who know this and that with the PTSD and insomnia added to that with my stress levels I’m quite often a ticking time bomb as far as how life is going. Not all of us are as lucky to have such an understanding partner but if you are reasonably patient , yet confident and willing to talk to ladies or the men you will be just fine people! Sick or not you can find your love, I found the love of my life and my first girlfriend at 18, she became my fiancé even after seeing me get too drunk, after seeing cluster headaches and migraines, and even as the deadly CSS or EGPA hit me. Ladies learn from that loyalty isn’t dead in this world and this is not a woman I am quilting into staying with me, in fact I am encouraging her to go ahead on her road to her PhD with her masters now as I will soon join her once I get my Bachelors later this Summer!
***Invisible Illness and the Stigma against it is a serious problem in the neurological community***