PTSD from the military perspective

Master Sgt. James Haskell, an Air Force gunner, was one of the first responders of 9/11, flying over Ground Zero as it smoldered below. A year later, he sought help for PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. He describes what he experienced and why he went for counseling.

Many Lovefraud readers who were in relationships with sociopaths have exactly the same symptoms.

PTSD: Many struggle, few tell, on

Link supplied by a Lovefraud reader.

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8 Comments on "PTSD from the military perspective"

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Donna: Thank you for this very helpful link. Having PTSD does cause a terrible shame and a fear of going crazy…especially when it is often combined with Depression. The Trauma Resource Institute booklets call it being in “high acceleration” or “low acceleration.” Those phrases help me a lot because I can say which I am experiencing according to my symptoms.

There is a lot of shame and blame with PTSD. It is especially difficult when one was not in the military. We often can’t share every detail about why we got PTSD, or we don’t recognize that abuse can cause it, a car accident can cause it, a hurricane or tornado, and on and on.

A lot of people who get PTSD are strong people who have done a lot of things and survived a lot of things. We feel weak when finally diagnosed…and most doctors don’t think of diagnosing any except military personnel. It took a doctor who was a friend of a friend to diagnose me. My real doctor knew most of the details of my life threatening trauma and only brought up Depression when I also was developing very serious, prolonged, complex PTSD.

The military man documented in the article is right about how insidious it is. And it can take over your whole life before you know it. For anyone who has it, or anyone trying to find out if they have it, I would suggest reading everything you can. There is help out there with books and CDs. There is one good DVD for family and friends of people with PTSD, but it also helped me to watch it. My family didn’t care to watch it.

There are some therapists who understand the complexity of PTSD and they can be helpful. But, I find books, relaxation techniques, and trying to rid myself of my shame and self blame have been extremely helpful.

The worst part for me was losing the support of my “nuclear” family. I was so strong for so long and kept going and taking care of my parents and sisters and their families for years while suffering in silence. When I finally had to tell them I could not keep coming to their rescue and was ill, they got angry and I have none of the type of support I gave them for decades. I wasn’t supposed to get sick. I was the strong one.

Hello Fight,

Is there any help financially with PTSD? I am just realizing, and the reading here was very helpful…I realized I do have memory losses–and anxiety attacks, which are new to me…also a craving for hiding…and some paranoia…

What is the medical / legal point of view here?

Is there recognition of PTSD in mental health, social benefits?
I have been a spiritual teacher so far, and my symptoms are getting in the way–and I don’t feel comfortable about accidentally flipping with my students!

Any ideas, comments?


I haven’t been diagnosed yet,but have been through enough trauma in my life and several “meltdowns”,so I really think I qualify as having PTSD.Most readers by now know me well enough to know what those traumas are,but I’ll briefly relate them again for newer ones…and fight you reminded me of another one…TORNADO!

There was no warning siren for that tornado,and it happened in early Dec.!I was smart enough to know the signs,and when the radio started sputtering,I woke my sister up;she and I headed for the hall,along with the 2 wk old infant I was babysitting!

My brother died in a car wreck,and as the oldest daughter(23 monthes younger than the brother),my mother reached out to me for consolation.I was happy to be there for her,but at the same time,I had been very close to my brother,and yet couldn’t grieve!Because of that,I was sick all winter!

I was in 2 car wrecks,one week apart from each other.This happened when I was eight monthes pregnant with my third child.First time,my injuries consisted of bruised ribs~I fell into bed everynight holding a pillow to my side!Second time,I was more fortunate,just bruise & scrapes!

Although I hemoragged when delivering my other 2 girls,I nearly bled to death when I delivered my third daughter.To top it off,I was separated from her,as I had to be taken to another hospital for 6 hrs.

As an epileptic,life with a spath was especially hazardous!He claimed to have OCD.Strangely,though,He didn’t feel compelled to do anything about his ‘obsessions’….I think he used it as an excuse to control me!And control me he did;like an Egyptian Pharoah with a whip!He didn’t whip me;he just worked me to the point of exhaustion!If I asked for mercy,or friends or family asked to show more consideration due to the seriousness of my illness,he INCREASED his demands!He also deprived me of sleep,interrogating me like a Nazi SSI guard!

As if all that wasn’t bad enough,my mother,whom I was so close to,dropped dead (literally)40 minutes after I’d been talking to her!It knocked the breath out of me when my dad called me less than an hour later and said “Mom is gone” GONE.JUST LIKE THAT.And then…my husband had the audacity to prevent me from going to her funeral,BECAUSE HE NEEDED someone to take care of him!If I’d had the time and money,I would have put him in a nursing home then,atleast for the duration of the trip,and caught a bus!(I don’t drive).

PTSD is also recognized by the social security disability board and that was what I filed under when I retired because I could no longer work after my husband burned to death. It took 2 years to get it but I finally did and got a SS Disability pension. It is not a lot of money but it helps. Actually I think it is easier to get a psych diagnosis through SSD than it is a severe physical illness.

Hello Oxy!
Good to see you again!Since I already get SSI for being epileptic,I guess it wouldn’t be necessary to notify them of a PTSD diagnosis if I get it.It’s not like I’d receive more benefits!But I’m really glad they recognize it as the disability that it is!

I am not qualified to give any legal advice.

I feel that the first thing to do is find a good trauma/PTSD therapist and discuss your PTSD with him/her. One of the earliest things I did before I was diagnosed was to join a local university study about nightmares from trauma. I STILL didn’t know I had PTSD, but I was getting very exhausted and upset from nightmares.

I learned quite a bit, but because I stayed in the situation and its aftermath as well as many family tragedies, I got worse. I called the researcher whom had conducted the nightmare program and she recommended a therapist for me. A trauma therapist will at least keep you from feeling like you are going crazy or “flipping out.”

It is extremely difficult to treat PTSD. However, I have continued my “self help” search. You can order a very helpful booklet from the Trauma Resource Center, a non-profit. They also have a book for therapists. I did not work with this book with my therapist, though. I asked my ex-husband (someone I can call at any time) and asked him if he would help me with the steps to follow when in “high acceleration,” panic, that feeling that something bad is about to happen, etc.

PTSD is certainly disabling. They give the old anti-anxiety medications for it and I’m not thrilled with them, but they stave off things day to day. I also went through Exposure Therapy (at my request because I heard they use it at the VA) with my therapist. It really opened the floodgates to cry and deal with some things. It was rather difficult, and I think it is worth a try for some. However, I do not consider it as important as staying in this moment. It took me back to thoughts and feelings of terrible things and new research is showing that is the worst thing we can do. That is why I have really tried to stick with anything that brings me back from flashbacks, reactions to nightmares, rage at the past and fear of the future. They are discovering that learning to live in the present is the best gift we can give ourselves after trauma. These books and practicing Mindfulness has given me the ability to do that to a much larger degree than I could several years ago.

The Trauma Resource Center uses a program called the Trauma Resiliency Model where you (on your own, with help from a friend, or a therapist) go through a system of Tracking your thoughts, feelings, bodily reactions, Grounding yourself where you are in this moment,Resourcing where you use an external or internal resource that helps you feel safe in the present moment, and then following instructions to help yourself Shift and Stay which is a gentle technique to bring you into your present surroundings. It has been very simple and helpful and based on the work and research of Dr. Peter Levine.

This booklet and getting help with the process described above, helped me the most. Then, I was able to start reading about the Mindfulness and working through those books and CDs. PTSD really never goes away for most people. However, I do better now than I did a couple of years ago, so I will keep using these techniques. I think getting help should be first on the list and this booklet and the Kabat-Zinn stuff are the two things that have helped me the most. They both include very simple techniques that work for a very complicated brain changing illness.

I don’t know why, but I am always surprised at how many similarities we have when we have PTSD. A multitude of tragedies. It seems that there is a large group of us who go through “over-the-top” traumatic events over and over….usually from childhood on. With so many traumas throughout one person’s lifetime, we are certainly all very susceptible to develop PTSD. And those of us who have it all have very similar depth of feeling, lots of illnesses, and are wounded. But, with the right kind of approach, we wounded can learn to live right now to the best of our ability. Even being Agoraphobic, I can go examine a flower in my garden closely and feel pleasant in this moment. And, on the other hand, when the bad feelings come up, I can just observe them in this moment and use the tools I have learned, not to ruminate for as long as I used to….and I live with the spath. He does definitely work on my nerves as they do, but my work on myself has put me in a different frame of mind with him than I had before I began the techniques I have learned that are all about me and nothing about him.

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