Thursday, 16 May 2013

PTSD - a double-edged sword

For some of you, the diagnosis PTSD might come as a relief. You might have felt, maybe for years, that something isn’t right. You might have seen several doctors, maybe even received treatment that didn’t help. Now that you have the diagnosis, you are one step closer to getting your life back on track. It will still require some searching - but at least you now know where to start. 

However, for some of you the diagnosis will come as a complete surprise – maybe as a result of a routine examination or assessment. I’ve seen it happen. And you will think “what the f*ck … - there's nothing wrong with me”. (Though you won’t say it out loud ...)
If it doesn’t feel right for you, please don’t just accept it.

For all medical or psychological conditions, there are guidelines to follow in order to arrive at the diagnosis. But with mental health issues like PTSD it is not necessarily as clear-cut as diagnosing high blood pressure (and even that can be a challenge …), especially if the assessor isn’t following the guidelines. And I have a feeling there are political interests behind getting the number of people who are diagnosed up at the moment.

If it doesn’t feel right for you, get a second opinion.
Talk the person who did the assessment and ask. They can’t just throw that at you and not talk about possible next steps. You wouldn’t accept that if somebody had told you that you have cancer, would you? But, you know what? The feelings you now experience might be pretty similar … (“It can’t be me ….”)

Then go away and talk to somebody else. If a doctor told you that you have a serious illness and are about to die – you would seek a second opinion, wouldn’t you? So why accept the label PTSD if it doesn’t feel right for you? You might find out that there is, indeed, something to consider. Most people who work in that area hopefully take their job and responsibility very seriously. But even if it isn’t, in a very sublime way carrying that label might have an impact on you. You might suddenly act differently. Even feel differently. Because something inside of you will keep nagging “… maybe …”.
Please talk to someone about it! And, whatever the result, it doesn’t mean you’re crazy!

What you guys have been through, will have left an impact. Whether it is "serious", whether and how much it impacts on your life, whether or not it requires treatment - that can't solely be decided for you.

And if you do feel you would like to talk to someone, I can point you in the right direction.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

PTSD - my favourite poem "Darkness"

I feel really moved that the amazing people behind the website have published another one of my poems on their blog. It is one of my personal favourites, and I've copied it below.

Some people who've read it have said that it's depressing - but I think they simply don't understand. Reading it again now, I would say it speaks of hope ... and of understanding without the need to talk.

What do you think ...?


In the middle of the night you’re suddenly awake.
Was there a sound?
Was there a light?
You cannot say.

You feel something rise inside you.
Slowly, very slowly.
You feel trapped.
You cannot breathe.

Your eyes accustom to the dark, but nothing stops
the darkness
that takes over
your inside.

There is no way you stay in bed.
You’re restless now,
try to escape,
but you can’t run.

You hear the sounds inside your head,
the volume lowers
in the light.
But now it’s dark.

I try to tell you, you are not alone.
Please let me help,
please don’t push me

You turn around, you’re shaking now.
I fight back tears.
Tonight you need
my strength.

In a few hours, daylight starts again.
Meanwhile I lead you
back to bed and hold
you tight.

I know you better than you think.
Your body talks and
within short you
fall asleep.

I still hold you when daylight breaks.
I stroke your head,
we have survived
another night.