I have suffered from post traumatic stress disorder since I was five years old. Of course, I didn't know that for more than four decades, so I thought it was normal to feel the way I did. Because the trauma I experienced was "invisible," meaning no one else was aware of it, and because it occurred at a young age--a time when memories are often lost to early childhood amnesia--there was no way for me to understand what caused my depression even after I became aware that I was depressed. It was only after hypnotherapy restored that early memory, and after I was able to process that memory by writing my book, that I was able to see how a common childhood misunderstanding became a tragic trauma that colored my adult life for many years. Consequently, I wondered how many other people suffered from a similar experience. Hoping that some of them will find it helpful, I'd like to spend some time discussing PTSD, its identification and treatments, repressed memories, early childhood amnesia, and how a child's immature mind often works.
SYMPTOMS OF PTSD
If you are aware of the trauma, you may find yourself:
1. reliving the event, which can be triggered by certain sights, sounds, smells, information or circumstances that are similar to the original trauma.
2. going out of your way to avoid such triggers.
3. unable to speak about the trauma.
If you are not aware of the original trauma, you may experience:
1. feeling bad about yourself or others without knowing why.
2. guilt, shame or fear that is out of proportion to current circumstances.
3. being unable to remember past events that you know you should remember.
4. experiencing a deepening of depression after encountering one of the triggers, even though you are not aware of the meaning of the trigger.
In either case, you may be:
1. unable to sleep and/or experiencing nightmares that you may or may not remember.
2. easily angered or irritated
3. unable to concentrate or frequently forgetting things.
4. hypervigilant--always worried or on guard, startling easily.
5. behaving recklessly.
6. having suicidal thoughts.
In coming blogs, I'll discuss treatments for PTSD, repressed memories, early childhood amnesia, and how a child's immature understanding can cause trauma.
Stephanie Kay Bendel is the author of EXIT THE LABYRINTH: A Memoir of Early Childhood Depression – Its Onset and Aftermath, MAKING CRIME PAY: A Practical Guide to Mystery Writing, and A SCREAM AWAY, a romantic thriller published under the house name, Andrea Harris. She has also written numerous short stories and articles on writing.