Parents, partners, friends and siblings of those lost through suicide can take forever to get back to ‘normal’. They are haunted by events and memories associated with it for many years. This is especially true for those who are unfortunate enough to be the ones to find the bodies of their loved ones. The unimaginable pain stays with them like a dagger in their hearts forever.
Even today, the sound of fast moving trains completely rattles my being. The events of ‘Day 0’ replay like a film in my head many times a day. Most often it’s the first thought in the morning. I break into a sweat and my heart pounds violently. I hold back from screaming outwardly but inside I am wailing. I have millions of screams stored up inside me. I fear one day they will explode into a deafening wail that will enfold the whole world.
Direct experience of horrific events; witnessing trauma in others; learning that traumatic event(s) occurred to a close family member or a close friend, especially where the actual or threatened death is violent; repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the event – a history of all of these is DSM-5 criteria for the diagnosis of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
Talking therapies (Cognitive Behavioural therapy and EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing), Group therapy and self help strategies are very useful for management of PTSD.
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) suggest that trauma-focussed psychological therapies should be offered before medication, wherever possible. UK Psychotrauma Society has published an evidence based guide for management of stress caused by trauma.
Following on from yesterday, is it any wonder that mental illness is rife in war torn countries?
I am no psychiatrist but I don’t think what I have is PTSD. I have an understandable response to a catastrophic event. I am gradually getting better at handling it. I can keep a semblance of ‘normality’ in my day to day life even though I am hurting deeply. Some recently bereaved ‘patients’ are started on antidepressants within weeks by their doctors. One of them said to me, “I don’t feel anything. Just blank.”