Monday, July 12, 2010
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
My symptoms fell within the categories of avoidance and arousal although I was also tormented by dreams of babies being thrown off a cliff. Below, are the symptoms of PTSD. It seems that trauma does not have to involve a direct threat to your physical life. For a woman, even a very young woman, the kind of experience we endured when we lost our babies to adoption seems to do the job all too well.
1. Reliving the event:
•Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
•Recurrent distressing memories of the event
•Repeated dreams of the event
•Physical reactions to situations that remind you of the traumatic event
•Emotional "numbing," or feeling as though you don’t care about anything
•Feelings of detachment
•Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
•Lack of interest in normal activities
•Less expression of moods
•Staying away from places, people, or objects that remind you of the event
•Sense of having no future
•Exaggerated response to things that startle you
•Excess awareness (hyper vigilance)
•Irritability or outbursts of anger
You also might feel a sense of guilt about the event (including "survivor guilt"), and the following symptoms, which are typical of anxiety, stress, and tension:
•Agitation, or excitability
•Feeling your heart beat in your chest (palpitations)
It's really demoralizing to express those symptoms to a professional, then say it is connected to your surrender experience only to be told, "well, you just need to move on." They don't say that to the returning POW or the person who survived a plane crash, but we are seen as so unimportant by so many that we are blamed for what was done TO us. We are seen as the perpetrators of our own disillusionment and grief.
People really seem to have an aversion to the word "victim" as if anyone who says they were victimized walked around with a big target saying "shoot me" on their back. So let's refresh the slaves to pop psychology with the definition of "victim."
vic·tim /ˈvɪktɪm/ Show Spelled[vik-tim] –noun
1. a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency: a victim of an automobile accident.
2. a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency: a victim of misplaced confidence; the victim of a swindler; a victim of an optical illusion.
3. a person or animal sacrificed or regarded as sacrificed: war victims.
4. a living creature sacrificed in religious rites
Well now, Golly, Gosh, Gee Whiz! Take a look at number two! Although, from the standpoint of us Bible Belters, I cannot be sure that number four doesn't include us, as well, I have to say that is a pretty good description of what happened to most of the mothers of the BSE/EMS.
So, we WERE victims of that impersonal agency and a judgmental society. To say we weren't is to deny history. That doesn't mean we are still victim material. But it is a perfectly good word that means nothing bad about those who have been victimized. Sorry Dr. Phil (Ill), but blaming the victim is not sound psychology. These celebrity life gurus do more damage than good, in my opinion. Meanwhile, those who feel guilt at having survived their trauma, can feel more because the good Dr. says they caused it, themselves. Arrhg!
I have often hesitated to apply this disorder to mothers because the PR of the industry has already presented us as emotionally frail and in need of "protection." I don't want to encourage that kind of thinking. But the fact that many of us have been affected by PTSD and survived and made lives for ourselves says more about our strength than our weaknesses. It is an individual thing as to how much each mother was affected, but I know a lot of really smart, strong and accomplished women who have fought this battle. Our fallen heroes, like Di Welfare, Carol Anderson and others are prime examples of what we CAN do.
Perhaps, just perhaps, our experience with PTSD can become a sword of battle rather than a burden to slow us down. We can respect ourselves for dealing with this emotional mine field for decades and we have the right to ask that the rest of this society respect us, as well.
In fact, I think it is time we demanded that respect.