The year was 1975 and the month was June. I was seven years old when I witnessed the tragic murders of my mother, Helen Thomas, her boyfriend Ian Richardson; and my godmother, Ethylene Carne.
Although I suffered from a gunshot wound, it was the mental scars that did the most significant damage. Since this tragic event, I have been clinically diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder also known as PTSD.
According to the Mayo Clinic, PTSD is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Here are some of the most notable symptoms of changes in emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms):
* Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
* Always being on guard for danger
* Overwhelming guilt or shame
* Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving at
* Trouble concentrating
* Trouble sleeping
* Being easily startled or frightened
As it pertains to PTSD, there are two types of emotions: primary emotions and secondary emotions.
According to Matthew Tull, Ph.D., those with PTSD may experience sadness, anger or anxiety when reminded of traumatic events or other stressful moments. This type of emotional reaction is called primary emotion.
Also according to Tull, sometimes emotions occur in response to having other emotions. For example, you might feel ashamed about being anxious or sad because you're angry. This type of emotional reaction is called a secondary emotion.
I can relate to the above mentioned because I can feel some very strong emotions after experiencing flashbacks and this generally leaves me in a very depressive state.
Whenever I encounter situations that may trigger PTSD, I utilize all available resources at my disposal (ex: Professional counseling/Group therapy, family, friends, spiritual leaders, online resources etc) and I encourage you to do the same. As it pertains to all clinically diagnosed mental illnesses, please seek mental health care from a licensed provider (MH) and thoroughly research all your diagnosis and prescribed medications.
If you feel the need to talk to someone, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Current and former service members, use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.