I just took a screening test on the Anxiety Disorders Association of America website:
There are several questions that I answered YES to.
1. You have experienced or witnessed a life-threatening event that caused intense fear, helplessness, or horror.
2. Repeated, distressing memories, or dreams
3. Acting or feeling as if the event were happening again (flashbacks or a sense of reliving it)
4. Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations about it
5. Avoiding activities and places or people who remind you of it
6. Feeling your range of emotions is restricted
7. Sensing that your future has shrunk (for example, you don't expect to have a career, marriage, children, or normal life span)
8. Irritability or outbursts of anger
9. Problems concentrating
10. More days than not do you feel: sad or depressed, disinterested in life, worthless or guilty?
Statements that stand out for me are:
1. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.
2. When you have PTSD, it can seem like you’ll never get over what happened or feel normal again.
3. PTSD is a disorder that can develop following a traumatic event that threatens your safety or makes you feel helpless. Most people associate PTSD with battle-scarred soldiers – and military combat is the most common cause in men – but any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD, especially if the event is perceived as unpredictable and uncontrollable.
4. After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock. But as you make sense of what happened and process your emotions, you come out of it. With PTSD, however, you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions.
5. Overcoming your sense of helplessness is key to overcoming PTSD. Trauma leaves you feeling powerless and vulnerable. It’s important to remind yourself that you have strengths and coping skills that can get you through tough times.
And all this:
When it happens that the heart, mind, and body become overloaded with negative impressions concerning events that they are subject to while in a state of helplessness or necessary conformity to the circumstances at hand, then conditions are ripe for the inner disorder that has come to be known as ‘post traumatic stress disorder’ (PTSD).
PTSD is not primarily a disorder of the mind, though it may appear as such, but rather a disorder of the heart that no longer feels capable of dealing with the helplessness that it has had no way of preventing. This helplessness, while in a state of moderate intensity, can produce a numbing of all the emotions of heart and body so that one can live through the experience. But when conditions change and the external situation is no longer present or no longer as stressful, or, when numbing is no longer effective, then the release of what has been encapsulated can occur without any warning, and suddenly, what was a successful way of coping with distress, becomes unsuccessful.
PTSD is not a disease of the body. Nor is it a disease of the mind. Rather, it is a symptom of the limitation of a heart that has been stretched to its limit in order to regulate the emotions of fear, confusion, rage, and helplessness brought about by a circumstance or circumstances that it could not prevent. Under normal conditions, the heart has a way of taking instruction from the mind so that it receives guidelines about what to believe about such circumstances and how to hold them in a way that gives them believability and credibility. But under the circumstance of severe and ongoing trauma or of a single traumatic incident of great intensity, the heart no longer believes that there is any explanation that is credible for what it is feeling or perceiving, and no longer knows how it will survive the need to continue enduring what cannot be explained.
At first I thought maybe I needed to go through 12 steps of recovery, but when I looked that up it really didn't pertain to this. So that's when I started looking at info on PTSD, and now also grief. There are many kinds of loss, as I learned in the grief group I participated in after my friend Emily passed away just over 3 years ago. Reading about grief I found that "it’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one – and this type of loss does often cause the most intense grief. But any loss can cause grief, including...a loved one's serious illness and loss of safety after a trauma."
And then it says this, which is really key for me:
MYTH: It’s important to “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
Grief seems to be a factor because I have felt that I am experiencing the 5 stages of grief:
- Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
- Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
- Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
- Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
- Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
I felt denial right away, after getting the call to come back to the hospital because Mark had coded. All the way there I was thinking "this isn't happening, it can't be happening, I am not realizing one of my worst fears tonight!"
Then I got angry, a little right away when I learned his potassium level had spiked up to 6.8 so I felt some anger at those taking care of him for not dialyzing him sooner. Since then I've felt anger that it happened at all, that it happened 3 times. I can't believe WE went through that! Codes only happen in TV and movies, not to real people. It wasn't supposed to happen to Mark. He came through surgery just fine, in spite of a terrible infection. Why the hell was he having so many issues after the fact? It didn't make any sense!!
Bargaining. I distinctly remember talking to God while showering one morning about "if I/we did anything to cause this, we are so sorry. We are sorry if we were complacent in any way. I promise we will be better now. Just let him be OK. I will do better at helping him manage his health. I won't take it for granted....".
I really think that's enough for today. It's taken me all day to do this. I am understanding more now and that helps. Also, Mark gets better every day and that helps as well. I need to try to understand, express my feelings and all that, but I think I also just need time. For now, this has been good.