Posttraumatic stress disorder[note 1] (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event that results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one's own or someone else's physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual's ability to cope. As an effect of psychological trauma, PTSD is less frequent and more enduring than the more commonly seen acute stress response. Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma(s) through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal—such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger, and hypervigilance. Formal diagnostic criteria (both DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10) require that the symptoms last more than one month and cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
Soo.. today honors and recognizes our 'invisible' wounds. What today feels like to me, is just another day. Things are still going on out in the world, and I am so far from my original home and family. But... I have a new home and a new family now, one that stretches across the country, into place's I don't even know of. And that family, is like Joan and Brigid, folks I may never meet, but are Sister Warriors of my heart. They can listen and understand in ways that my 'real' family cannot. I worry for a friends daughter, serving in the Navy. She's promised she'd never keep the secret that we have, but, what if she HAD to.. like so many of us did? I hate to think of her spirit broken like I felt mine had been for so long.
Keeping that deep of a secret can't help but mess with your head, and for me, it changed my entire being, who I was for a very long time. And no one really knew.. because.. of the invisible wounds. Those that you can't see. And it's certainly not just us MST folks, it's the combat vets who got to see stuff that I would not have been able to handle.. heck, I can't watch some stuff on TV, and I sure wouldn't have handled battle. I can't say enough how much respect I have for the Breathern who have fought and died and lived as wounded to some degree for ever more. Strong brave warriors who carry lots of invisible wounds. Thank you for your heroic service! Even just getting up and putting on boots in a war zone is heroic to me! And all those that have to deal with those as well, carry them gently with your words and be kind to them.
The help and therapy that I am getting now from the VetCenter has been invaluable, I'm afraid I would have have been 'committed' to some place in a padded white room by now if not for them. Especially since I am STILL waiting to see my first VA doc since I moved. And still, over a month to go too!
It's funny in that after keeping such a big secret for so long, sometimes even from myself, I can start to see patterns in my life of avoidance that I never saw before when I was compliant to 'stay alive'. But now, as I go through the therapy and this recovery, it seems I am being led down a path, but I have no idea where it goes.
It feels a bit like this:
And that's just fine for now.. I go in faith that with my actively working on it, support of friends and loved ones, real life and virtual, that we'll all pull through this somehow.. I have to have faith.. that it will.
What I wonder is.. if the wounds are invisible, how can we tell if they have healed?
Over and out....