Thursday, October 17, 2013

PTSD, part 1

It's amazing how fast time flies when you aren't miserable.  I've already been home for almost six months, and tomorrow will be four months since I started my current job.  It seems every weekend we have a plan - going to an event around town, going to a party, or hosting brunch for several friends.  Our Sunday brunch tradition is back in full swing after a year hiatus - in a switch-up of roles from Turkey, I'm now the primary cook, and Eric and friends handle the clean up.  That means I get to finish the mimosas - oh, how hard is my life.

We've settled into the neighborhood and know most of our neighbors.  We have our routines: buying vegetables at the farmers' market every Sunday, CSA delivery on Thursday after work, and baking most weekends.  Some good friends from Turkey moved in a block away from us, and my best friend from high school lives a twenty-minute walk to our east.  I didn't get furloughed, Eric has a new, more interesting job, and we're all in good health.

Things are going well.

I struggle with PTSD - I'm formally diagnosed with it now, which shouldn't surprise anyone.  I'm a lot better than I was even two months ago; I went to a crowded bar for a party on Saturday night and stayed for three hours, when over the summer I would have had a panic attack within 15 minutes.  I'm still waiting for how I feel about my PTSD to solidify into something I can write about; writing is very therapeutic for me, but when it comes to something this personal I don't think I can write about it until the time is right.  It's still too raw.  I can talk about the daily grind with people, and in fact I like to do so, because it both helps me come to terms with it and it also makes people aware that PTSD is a disease you can't see but whose effects linger for a long time.  I don't really care if others want to be educated, if someone asks, I tell them.  :)

What I can say is that everyone's PTSD is different, but that all of us who were in Libya last year are still suffering in our own way.  The biggest help for me - outside of my therapist, who specializes in treating Vietnam veterans and Holocaust survivors - has been hearing that everyone else who went through it with me are suffering too.  It sounds morbid, but sometimes it's just really, really nice to know that you're not alone.  I know that every time I have a bad day, when something triggers me that no one else would even notice, I can call a friend who was there too and who gets it.  I don't have to explain why it's traumatizing for strangers to ask me for quotes for their latest partisan rant about who's at fault.  I don't have to explain why I can't bear to watch the news in America anymore, because of the sheer idiocy of the public debate over Benghazi.

I'm tired of other people trying to fit me and my experiences into their narrative.  Any story I tell no longer becomes my story, if it's taken and used for someone else's gains, and I don't want to be used.  I live with my memories every day, and I don't want them and the memories of others who died or who continue to suffer to be disrespected.


  1. thank you for sharing your experiences. Thinking of you and wishing you well in the NY.

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  3. There is no way you could have PTSD due to the Benghazi attack. You can suffer grief at the loss of your friend, but you most certainly don't have PTSD. I work with veterans who do suffer from PTSD, and I work with many you, who think PTSD is the new hip thing to have. It's very disrespectful to claim that you have a condition that you don't have. You're an attention seeking succubus. Caught up in self aggrandizement, you're a disgrace and should be removed from your position.

  4. It's a good thing we did not ask for your professional opinion. Real professionals don't diagnose (even a diagnosis of fraud) without actually meeting the person. Please take your trolling and professionalism elsewhere.

    1. I don't need to meet her to know that one cannot suffer transient PTSD. You can't be traumatized by an event where you weren't present. It's just dumb, she's seeking attention, and fools like you give it to her.

    2. Chris, you're an RN who has worked in the mental health field. You are not a qualified mental health professional, and consequently, you should exercise much more humility and compassion when addressing someone you've never met about their mental health.

      If you were actually qualified to speak authoritatively about PTSD, you might have known that there has been research published about bereavement-related PTSD. For instance, in the PTSD Research Quarterly, published by the National Center for PTSD (of which I'm sure you're familiar, as a veteran), researchers from the University of Pittsburgh wrote, "new in DSM-IV is the statement that learning about the death of a close relative or friend from any cause, including natural causes, qualifies as a stressor for PTSD, as long as the death was sudden and unexpected." This was written in 2002, before the spike in interest in PTSD research that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq prompted. (Source: )

      There's also been research published about PTSD as the result of bereavement after terminal illness. If the prolonged suffering and expected death of a loved one can prompt PTSD, then surely the sudden, unexpected, and violent death of close friends can prompt PTSD. (See: )

      If that's not enough, another publication saying that PTSD following bereavement is a real thing:

      The bottom line is that you don't know hannah, you don't know what her relationship was to those who died, you don't know how those events corresponded to other events in her life, and finally, you're not even a qualified mental health professional. You're an RN. You should stick to your scope of practice because you clearly don't know what you're talking about.

    3. BTW Chris, "transient" does not mean what you think it means. You aren't a very smart dude.

    4. And Chris, she was actually in Libya for quite some time and was exposed to certain levels of engagement that unfortunately led up to the death of her boss that she was close to. And there are others that have been diagnosed with PTSD as she has that were not in the middle of the battle but we're on the periphery and when losses were suffered, it affected them to the point of PTSD. I guess since she has actually been diagnosed with PTSD by a doctor, you are calling he/she an idiot for their diagnosis. I would ask that you stop making medical diagnosis over the Internet and stick to your real job which I hope does not involve people since you are not a people person at all.

    5. And I would be careful who you are calling a fool, since you don't know me or anyone else on this blog either. You should be smart enough working in mental health to know that you shouldn't make these kind of comments on a public blog. Everyone including you employer can see them. I'm pretty sure that they would not want you making comments like this.

    6. And Chris, once you get an MD behind your name, then you can question a doctors diagnosis. Until then, keep doing good work without diagnosis which it is not legal for you to do.

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