2012/07/03

Instant replay

PTSD is a potentially debilitating anxiety disorder triggered by exposure to a traumatic experience such as an interpersonal event like physical or sexual assault, exposure to disaster or accidents, combat or witnessing a traumatic event. There are three main clusters of symptoms: firstly, those related to re‐experiencing the event; secondly, those related to avoidance and arousal; and thirdly, the distress and impairment caused by the first two symptom clusters.
("Combined pharmacotherapy and psychological therapies for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)," PubMed Health, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0014403/)

I know people who have been through serious trauma and suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am an empathic person, but unless you've experienced PTSD, you can't really know what someone who suffers from it is going through.

Without trivializing full-blown PTSD, I now have just a little more of a clue as to what it must be like.

The injury I inflicted upon my right ring finger is minor. I sliced off a little patch of skin, deep enough that it bled like a stuck pig. I was treated quickly in hospital. I'm now on a regimen of Band-Aids®, Polysporin®, acetaminophen, and keeping the wound clean. It still hurts, of course, and for some reason I keep whacking it, but I am even managing to type with that finger (a little flatter than I normally would). So really, this was no big trauma.

And yet the event is haunting me. I can be reasonably certain that I will never do anything that stupid again, but in my mind, it's happening over and over. It makes my skin crawl. My body shakes, my breathing speeds up, and I have to make an effort to take deep breaths to calm down. The thought of it happening scares me. I try not to think about it, try not to let that movie reel replay, but my brain and body are not yet ready to let go of it.

This is probably made worse by the fact that I have aichmophobia (fear of sharp objects). For the most part, I have overcome that fear. I use knives all the time while cooking. Power tools scare me more, but I still manage to use some.  At some point I will even use the mandonline again, with proper precautions, of course. But for now, the fear is extra strong.

I will get better with time. It's our nature to heal. People endure much worse traumas than I did. But I now have at least a tiny bit more insight into what they go through. So the only thing I would say is that if you have PTSD, don't just live with it. If your mind and body aren't healing themselves, get help.

4 comments:

Aerin Caley said...

HUGS!!!

It will pass, but it's no fun in the meantime.

Rebecca said...

PTSD is terrible to live with. I suffer from it, due to a serious of childhood traumas, including two near-death experiences, and prolonged abandonment and neglect (which, sadly, can be a factor with this as well.) I know that feeling you have all too well, and tend to struggle with it on a near-constant level. I run at a high anxiety level that has become "normal" for me. It sucks, and affects all relationships. I feel for others that struggle with this issue as well, and wish there was an easy answer... but there isn't.

Coline said...

PTSD is what drove me from the world after an encounter with a very deranged doctor who was literally hoping mad in his surgery, be careful what you ask for...

I have been slicing everything in sight with my mandoline since your post and have not cut anything off yet. Really sharp is better than not, gives more control. My policy with any tool is to try and imagine the damage it could do to you, once that image is planted I am forever wary...

Just ordered a power sander with saw attachment, wonder what it could do?

Dave said...

I still experience these sorts of fears from a similar encounter with a can of corned beef over forty years ago. The tip of that finger still bears the scar as does my mind. When opening any can you can bet my fingers are well clear of those sharp edges!

It never occurred to me that this is PTSD, but of course it is.

Oh yes, those power sanders can quickly remove more than just wood! Be careful Coline.

Anyway Véronique, I hope you take advantage of your newly acquired ability to visualize possible injury to forge on with the mandolin and other equipment, making sure your fingers and other body parts are safe from now on. :)