Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

ptsdSeveral years have now passed wherein I have obsessed about my obsessions and how to control them. I have come to the conclusion I will be forever bound into this process of PTSD.  I believe that PTSD is a natural occurring phenomenon that is a normal process the brain uses to protect itself, and utilize the event learning experience to enable one to cope in future similar experiences.

For example when the hordes were sweeping through the villages of Far, Far Away, committing brigandage and other atrocities, mankind had to place these horrors in a different recess of the brain as a memory where it would not be normally be REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cleared and sorted out. The brain wants to remember as a survival tool albeit events of 50 years ago. From a genetic memory trace we can go back thousands of years.

However this stored memory pattern is not perfect and resurfaces on a cyclic basis often overwhelming normal sleep cycles causing unrest, confusion, agitation and a host of common complaints.

The bottom line is that there is no REM-no recycling and purging of dream memory traces as in normal situations.

Recent studies have identified that war experience veterans have different brain patterns than non-war experience veterans /civilians. The isolated different stored memory pattern of trauma is different than normal non-trauma experiences. The repository for these traumas is not in a normal storage area of the brain.

One becomes exhausted without proper sleep. You feel like you are wading through a fog bank. Then as a further protection the brain sets up depression as a protective barrier. You wind up resting but not REMing .

So you take antidepressants and they work for a while but you become aclaminated to them and you need a different antidepressant. I think it is not true depression per se, but PTSD’s own variety of depression.

At anytime in its cycle of panic attacks, bad dreams in vivid reality emerge where you wake up screaming and stumbling about the room, often more brain self protection occurs by changing the experience into a different setting-a montage of stagecraft with the underlying theme of the experience but just disguised. This allows a partial REM-a better nights rest and you wake up feeling more alive, or perhaps only half alive.

The current psychotherapeutic approach includes group discussions – which unfortunately many are reluctant to engage in. It is difficult to discuss guilt, remorse and visualize traumatic events.

I have found that symbolic fictions in a private bedroom are helpful. The “Man Cave” scenario of hunting relics and weapons creates an illusion of safety from the evil demons just like the young child clutching his cap gun to shoot monsters in the closet.

Other psychotherapeutic approaches are for the family not to fawn over the PTSD victim but affect the expectation of getting on with life and addressing the future since the PTSD victim remains partiality in the past still trying to rationalize what could have been done differently.

Following every war there are a few who were ordered to commit legal authorized atrocities, and this is to be expected. Unfortunately after every war there are war movies and Xbox video war games, etc. that are promoted as beneficial for the PTSD victim. This is NOT TRUE. Reliving the experiences is not helpful, it is damaging.

The best-case scenario for helpful recovery, which may take years and years to submerge into the deep unconscious, is daily rituals, however simple and leading to a productive feeling for the family benefit, or the community at large. Social life is important but social functions that entertain alcohol and illicit drugs are NOT OK. The PTSD victim cannot cloud his or her mind with substance abuse.

Avoiding stimulants such as coffee and the espressos are advisable. Learn to drink herbal relaxing teas such as: Chamomile and Lemon Balm. There are a great deal of herbal relaxing teas on the market.

As layers upon layers of the minds experience thicken (a metaphor) the new neural pathways will become positive allowing a functioning recovery. Since we deal with different personalities of young servicemen and women who did grow up experiencing violence to begin with, their layers of resistance and coping skills are different than those that were swaddled in a protective cocoon. History tells us that this PTSD has in all cultures been in existence for eons, and no doubt will continue eons into the future generations. Although the victim has to generate new coping skills, the family has to learn skills too and offer acceptance.

Loading the victim with antidepressants, and antipsychotic medications may have its value in a hospital setting but I have issues with this approach with the non-violent victims. I do think that the victims may have a hormonal imbalance that needs to be examined by a blood panel test. I do know from personal experience that low testosterone will affect serotonin balance and that implies depression. Perhaps estrogen increases in males and that is also a problem such as identified by weeping and withdrawal. Women may have the opposite effects.

I have found that tranquilizers often make problems worse. The only tranquilizer I have found that is effective with no side effects such as panic attacks is: Clonazepam. Also different named antidepressants have different negative effects. The key is not to become addicted, not to continue with drugs if you can do without. Keep in mind that the family physician is not always savvy with PTSD and the specialized psychiatrist is often charged with drugging you to the gills as a general benefit to the public interest.

I might add in the violent instances like shootings, quite often there are brain tumors that show up in an autopsy after the police have killed you. A MRI could have saved many this way.

Writing short stories of experiences are a great therapy – if so inclined. They need not be published, but written as an expression and hidden way. Some times ritual burning of the writings is therapeutic with family support, or in concert with a holistic counselor.

The very fact of creating things such as in gardening, building, repairs, pets, children animal responsibility and focus the on the future brings health and stability. There exists in the mind two extremes of tension – creation and destruction. The above suggestions often fulfill these needs. In time the mind heals and/or learns to cope. A loving spouse is most important.

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God Bless,

Old Timer

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