Exciting things are happening at the Madhouse!! Ok, I lied. I even faked the exclamation points. The things that have been happening are really exciting, but they are progressive – in the sense that progress has been made in regards to my health. Woo hoo!!
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in the fall of 2009 (I give a more detailed description of the symptoms in Word Wednesday, February 1, 2012). After talking with other clinicians and those who work in the mental health field over the past several months I began to doubt that DID was an accurate diagnosis.
There is no doubt that I dissociate – everyone does to a degree – zoning out, daydreaming etc. are all common forms of dissociation. I often daydream and I am the queen of zoning out, but I do dissociate more often and more acutely than the average person; especially when I’m in a stressful situation. However, I am always aware of what is happening when I dissociate. I’m not always completely “me”, I may have a more dominate personality type, but I’m always aware of my surroundings and what occurs during that time.
This does not fit the traditional symptoms of an individual who suffers from full-blown DID – they will lose moments, hours, even days from their memory. It is during these “black-outs” that the alter personalities or “alters” are in control. Someone who suffers from DID will no longer be in control of their actions or their body. I can’t even begin to understand how frightening that must be. My heart aches for these poor souls.
After doing some research, discussing my mental health with trained professionals, doing some soul searching and finally confirming my conclusions with a psychiatrist yesterday, I can firmly say I am diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD has been getting a great deal of media coverage as more troops are returning from overseas with mental health issues. Bear in mind that not every returning soldier has PTSD, but those who do, struggle not only with disorder, but also with the stigma. For more information on military PTSD visit Military Minds; a peer-run support group for military members with PTSD. The men and women who operate Military Minds are working diligently to educate their superiors, their military brethren and the general public about the very real effects of PTSD.
From the Sidran Institute:
Myths and Facts About PTSD
Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a complex disorder that is often misunderstood. PTSD may develop following exposure to extreme trauma—a terrifying event or ordeal that a person has experienced, witnessed, or learned about, especially one that is life-threatening or causes physical harm. The experience causes that person to feel intense fear, horror, or a sense of helplessness. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD, but many people do.
MYTH: PTSD only affects war veterans.
FACT: Although PTSD does affect war veterans, PTSD can affect anyone. Almost 70 percent of Americans will be exposed to a traumatic event in their lifetime. Of those people, up to 20 percent will go on to develop PTSD. An estimated 1 out of 10 women will develop PTSD at some time in their lives.
Victims of trauma related to physical and sexual assault face the greatest risk of developing PTSD. Women are about twice as likely to develop PTSD as men, perhaps because women are more likely to experience trauma that involves these types of interpersonal violence, including rape and severe beatings. Victims of domestic violence and childhood abuse are at tremendous risk for PTSD.
MYTH: People should be able to move on with their lives after a traumatic event. Those who can’t cope are weak.
FACT: Many people who experience an extremely traumatic event go through an adjustment period following the exposure. Most of these people are able to return to leading a normal life. However, the stress caused by trauma can affect all aspects of a person’s life including mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Research suggests that prolonged trauma may disrupt and alter brain chemistry. For some people, a traumatic event changes their views about themselves and the world around them. This may lead to the development of PTSD.
MYTH: People suffer from PTSD right after they experience a traumatic event.
FACT: PTSD symptoms usually develop within the first three months after trauma, but may not appear until months or years have passed. These symptoms may continue for years following the trauma, or, in some cases, symptoms may subside and reoccur later in life, which is often the case with victims of childhood abuse.
Some people don’t recognize that they have PTSD because they may not associate their current symptoms with past trauma. In domestic violence situations, the victim may not realize that their prolonged, constant exposure to abuse puts them at risk.
I have been through a few traumas in my lifetime. I’m not a point where I’m able to discuss them openly with people; it is still too painful. I’m having difficulty just keying this paragraph. My legs are shaking, I can’t figure out what to say and I’m tempted to just scrap the whole post. I’m not sharing my diagnosis to get sympathy from people – that’s the last thing I want. But this is a reality in the Madhouse and I’ve invited you all to be part of it so I insist on being honest when I write.
I don’t think I can write anymore tonight, but I found this great image so I’ll share it.