PTSD Awareness Month on June, 2023: Do I have PTSD? 10 points to best answer!?
June, 2023 is PTSD Awareness Month 2023. Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy: Fact and Fiction: PTSD and Devlin's Grace PTSD Awareness Month.
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Amy, you said that you "have been" getting sexually assaulted for the last 7 or 2 months. Is this still going on? If it is, the very first thing that you need to do is stop it and/or get somewhere safe. Please. I don't know how old you are or what your living situation is, where this person is abusing you, but you must find a way to stop it from occurring. I'd suggest contacting the police and telling your family/friends or people that will support you. Of course, things get more complicated depending on who is doing or was doing the abuse. So, first thing, get safe and get some support, seriously consider contacting the police.
Do you have PTSD? Not necessarily, but it's possible. What you are describing sounds a lot like "hyper vigilance" and it happens a lot in people that have been abused. So, you aren't alone in that. It's the natural human response to being assaulted. It's basically a heightened sense of awareness and reactivity which is stressful and draining in itself.
I'd definitely recommend therapy.. be aware that, if you are a minor, and the identity of the person doing this to you becomes known, that person will likely be reported and legal action will result. I'd still urge you to therapy regardless of who it is, but be aware there are some pitfalls. You can always refuse to say who it was, though. If you aren't a minor, then you should be able to tell everything without fear of someone stepping in on your behalf and calling the police, though this is something you probably should clarify with the therapist before dropping specifics like names and relations.
There are people you can trust out there, I know because I consider myself one of them. At this point, pick who you trust carefully. Reveal yourself gradually and when it feels right. If you want to talk to someone anonymously, you can write me. I'd love an email penpal. I've been a counselor for 10 years and do not find my current job fulfilling at all, hence why I am on here.. I actually want to help people and have the knowledge to do so. So, if you want, hit me up, you have nothing to lose. email@example.com Best of luck to you, Amy.
How do sex abuse survivors with PTSD and multiple personalitites cope and heal?
I do believe that integration is the eventual goal in therapy with folks for DID as I see anything less than that as settling for less than a person deserves, though I respect the choices people make as to how far they wish to go in therapy. But integration most certainly is possible.
Initially I focus on contracting to decrease overtly self-destructive behavior in order to allow therapy to proceed. This contracting can take weeks or months before all parts are willing to get on board and suspend overtly self-destructive behavior as there is usually a lack of understanding by each part that what they do effects all parts. Safety of the body has to come first before other work takes place in order to avoid hospitalization or injury which will only delay and interfere with therapy.
The first step in therapy then is always establishing communication between alter parts. Sometimes this happens initially through a journal where each part can write or post comments to a question. Once there has been some initial communication and awareness of other parts, communication is fostered through developing co-consciousness which is the ability for one part to stay "present" while another part or parts are dominant. Mainly, this involves a willingness to stay and resist the desire to dissociate. The greater the degree of co-consciousness, the less amnesia there is and the less confusion the person experiences.
The next step is to facilitate cooperation between parts and decrease the internal struggles and battles for control which lead to disorganized behavior and inconsistency in relationships. This often is somewhat like family therapy and the basic tenet is to encourage openess to understanding the perspectives and needs of other parts within the system. The most important thing here is to encourage respect for other parts-it is also one of the most difficult aspects of the therapy as negative attitudes by the host personality toward other parts is generally the source of most conflict. The other parts' behaviors are interpreted out of context and are often perceived by the host as destructive or persecutory. Other parts often are angry with the host and see the host as weak and dependent. It's my experience that persecutor alters are every bit as valuable and important and necessary to the system and are really protector parts in disguise, no matter how horrendous or destructive their behavior may appear at first on the surface. This step is crucial, as communication will shut down and no further work will take place without establishing respect between alters and a willingness and desire to learn from one another. Each alter offers unique coping strategies and needs to be honored for the role they played in the system's survival. Initial cooperation and collaboration among alters may begin with simply negotiating things like who has time out in the body and when. Clearly, a degree of respect needs to precede this in order to facilitate the trust necessary to allow alters to voluntarily take control. This also diminishes the severe headaches which usually result from switching struggles.
Once there has been a level of communication and cooperation established, the next step is to facilitate sharing of memories across alters which further reduces the amnesia barrier. It also results in the transfer of skills between parts and a dramatic increase in empathy for what each part experienced and the contribution they made to survival. The greatest roadblock to accomplishing this step is usually host resistance, as the host is reluctant to accept the dissociated memories and the attendant emotional pain and they must become committed to the goal of accepting the other parts of themselves and owning the experiences and the pain. This leads to integration.
When alters integrate by sharing the emotiona and the memory, they never actually leave or disappear-they simply cease to exist as separate. This is key as no part is ever eliminated (which sometimes is what the host personality strives to do-trying to destroy or suppress a part is a negative barrier and not possible either) as each is equally crucial to the person's evolving sense of self. Other alters fear loss of independence and uniqueness and their role and often resist too at this stage until the concept is fully understood. Acceptance of all parts directly results in integration. All of these fears of loss of separateness, loss of coping by dissociation need to be processed to facilitate this stage.
The last stage is usually grieving with all the anger, sadness and feelings that come with owning the experiences of horrific abuse, and sometimes worse, the emotional neglect. Grieving the loss of the parents you never had is the most apt phrase I've ever heard and is credited to Colin Ross, the guru in treatment of DID.
Finally there is a resolution phase, where as clients call it, they adjust to being a "monomind" and coping with new experiences without the use of dissociation or other ways of avoiding affect (like alcohol, drugs, self-mutilation, rage episodes or other forms of acting out) and they practice and solidify the coping mechanisms they have been learning throughout therapy.
Hope this helps explain the process. Again, just a reminder-DID and PTSD are among the only psychiatric disorders which can be truly "cured" and also do not depend on meds for management of symptoms.
Best of luck!
PTSD and Acute Stress Response (Shock)?
Acute stress disorder and PTSD often go hand in hand. You are right in that a diagnosis of PTSD can only be given if symptoms persist for a minimum of one month after the traumatic event. Acute stress disorder often has the same symptoms as PTSD but is used to describe the symptoms immediately after the trauma. The reason for the different diagnoses is that not everyone who has Acute Stress disorder goes on to develop PTSD.
A flashback can vary in severity. A flashback may be temporary and the person may know what s/he is experiencing is not real (kind of like being aware when you're dreaming that you're in a dream). On the other hand, during a flashback, a person may lose all awareness of what is going on around them, being taken completely back to their traumatic event. Similar to a dissociative episode, during a flashback, a person may also lose track of time. For example, a war veteran with PTSD who is in a store may begin to feel like the store looks like a jungle and the people around him begin to look like fellow soldiers or the enemy.