I would like to propose an important revision to the DSM and ICD diagnostic bible. I can do these controversial types of things because I’m a mental health blogger, which surely must give me some cyber muscle power (even if imagined), and challenging things is also my idea of fun.
As my writer inspirer friend The Daily Annagram said, “Your keyboard is your weapon.”
I will never forget that five word wonder. I agree wholeheartedly with what Anna said. I do believe bloggers yield some kind of influence, particularly if we actually try to and are motivated to.
When we log into WordPress we can choose on a whim what we want to write about that day/night, and not only that, people then actually READ the stuff we just wrote.
And they might stumble onto our blog, like what they read, and be reading posts we wrote weeks or months ago too…scrabbling through our back catalogue of [obviously] FASCINATING posts.
The concept that people actually read my blog is still pretty avante guarde to me and hasn’t fully sunk in. I am always pleased when I get a new follower, but then aside from that there are the many secret followers, who read your words yet you don’t know who they are.
It’s totally bonkers isn’t it!
People who I don’t know read my blog.
Applying that logic, there is no reason why there won’t be actual psychiatrists reading this. Maybe someone on the DCM/ICD panel of influential psychiatrists could be reading summerSHINES right now!?!…totally hungry for my wisdom and ready to take on board my epic “expert by experience” knowledge of revised diagnostic label shamazingness.
I am going to believe this is true for the purposes of writing this post
This is particularly in my mind about people of mental health origin reading my blog as an article of mine was posted on the NHS trust staff bulletin yesterday. I was asked if I was ok for a blog link to go on and I thought, why the hell not. Psychiatrists and Clinical Psychologists and Community Psychiatric Nurses and Support Workers and Occupational Therapists and NHS administrative staff are people too! So why shouldn’t they be allowed access to the creative innovative hilarious musings of one of their CMHT patients.
So, for those members of the NHS trust currently spying on me via my personal blog, please can you get a message to the ICD/DSM panel of psychiatriatrists….”I want to change the name of POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER?”
That’d be epic if you possibly could.
The word I personally take issue with is the first P of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ‘POST’.
Whilst I agree my stress is post-traumatic (in order words happened after and because of trauma)… my stress is very much not POST, but right now- in the PRESENT
[PTSD IS A SHIT PRESENT]
I would have much preferred to be gifted with a Yankee candle with a lovely calming scent-NOT A FRIGGIN’ ANXIETY DISORDER that’s for sure.
MAKES ANGRY SLITTY EYES AT PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS PTSD THING HAPPEN
So basically, my suggested revision is it should be called
PRESENT [NOT POST] TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (pNPTSD)
Potential sub-categories of this diagnosis could be things such as;
PTS ‘used to be happy and now my life is fucked’ Disorder.
pTS ‘was never happy because the shit started so early’ Disorder.
pTS ‘don’t know what it’s like to NOT feel scared’ Disorder.
pTS ‘those fuckers should be burned at the stake but I will try and move on and hold my head up high regardless while inwardly bleeding in a cess-pool of pain’ Disorder.
pTS ‘no I can’t just “move on” at your pace Disorder.
Do you think my suggestions will catch on?
…No, me neither :P
PTSD is caused by the past for sure, but I reason that it should be re-named as the suffering is very much felt in the present, and clings to the present like an orphan who has just been given his first spoonful of nutella.
Most people simply don’t know how much PTSD is an ‘in yer face’ present issue, that is involuntary, instinctive, as natural and everyday and constant as breathing.
It isn’t that we are choosing to remain affected by previous traumatic experiences because we somehow “enjoy” making a big deal of it. It is not a choice to be affected by our past. It is not a choice to remember. It is not a choice similarly to be unable to forget. To what extent we move forward from our trauma at whatever point is possibly the only variable here that distinguishes people, but in general PTSD is a very pervasive here-and-now and very real current issue that affects our present. Our now. Our tomorrow. Our yesterday has already happened and we know we were affected by PTSD yesterday too.
PTSD invades from all angles and can be triggered by all sorts of things, but one thing is for sure, it affects us NOW in the PRESENT and I know as someone with PTSD that my past has been and gone, it is the suffering in the present that haunts me.
The disorder happened because of the past, but it is affecting me here, now, today, tomorrow, [and to some extent] always.
That is why I want it to be re-named with the word PRESENT in it. Every present moment is difficult to some level. It is either a bit difficult, or a massive LOT of difficult, but it is ALWAYS very consistently difficult.
This blog is about post-traumatic shine…post-traumatic growth. I believe in that…however the balance to that is that post-traumatic recovery is not a rosy pink-tinted process where you always feel great and like you’re headed in a positive direction. Sometimes when triggers set off firecrackers on our path we get startled, and understandably so.
We grew up (traumatised kids like me) thinking the world was un-safe and threatening. We didn’t know what shit might be lurking around the proverbial corner. We knew that fearing ‘it’ wouldn’t stop it happening. We learned that ultimately we were powerless and no matter how many tears we cried (or held in) it wouldn’t make a jot of difference to the outcome.
The shit kept happening.
I am talking about child abuse here (from experience), though of course that is not the only type of trauma there is. I just write about what I know…but I know many other adult survivors who encountered very different but equally shit childhood traumas.
The advice in Facebook memes and the received wisdom of the day is LIVE IN THE MOMENT. STAY IN THE PRESENT. That is actually in-helpful if you have PTSD. Why?…I’ll explain…If you are to stay in the present moment…if you have PTSD, that moment is most likely to be a drumroll shit moment. PTSD sufferers tend to have one shit moment which then turns into another shit moment. Life is a series of shit moments that are either a little bit difficult, a medium amount of difficult, or a HUGE amount of difficult….
That is what “the present” is to us. So why on earth should we try and remain in it?
The best hope we have is we learn coping strategies to distract ourselves from the sheer shitness of the present moment. But the thing we have the problem with is THE PRESENT MOMENT. And staying in it, when difficult memories of trauma are triggered by something is actually allowing you to wallow and sit through a horror film in your mind of very much real stuff that happened.
When the shit stuff happened, once, twice, hundreds of times….we experienced a TERRIFYING moment, an OVERWHELMING moment, a FEAR OF DEATH moment, a FEAR THE PAIN WOULD KILL US moment, a MOMENT OF FROZEN TERROR type moment.
That is what moments can be if you’re a child affected by traumatic experiences growing up in a emotionally threatening, hostile, or even a physically threatening environment.
If we relish the moment and have a trauma history, a fleeting contented feeling can easily switch to a full fight-or-flight adrenaline response or conversely a dissociative freeze response in a millisecond.
We are bombarded by moments of terror and pelted with those moments over and over every day over and over and over. That’s why we get easily fatigued. Imagine having all this “shitness” appearing of horrific past moments being relived in a present shit moment.
Today I walked into town and my legs nearly gave way because of anxiety.
Today I walked on the beach and was triggered by the sound of a runner coming up behind me as I walked the dogs on the beach.
Today I sat in a room and had shit moment after shit moment with a mental-health professional who had no idea what shit was happening inside my brain every moment because when the flashbacks come I lose the ability to speak.
That is an actual real thing that I learned about at the trauma and the brain conference. The throat constricts. Attention narrows. Vision alters. Hearing ability goes to sleep and numbs everything in the background because it’s too loud to hear anyone elses voice above the soundtrack of my own head.
I sat there having flashbacks. I cried. I couldn’t tell her I was having flashbacks. I was just a lady sat in front of her who was crying and caught up in her own world.
[That was my present…do you get why I would have preferred the Yankee candle with the calming scent?]
The present is hard, and it is hard maintaining your ability to cope with a life that is mostly and usually hard.
But I go on. We all go on. We are survivors. We have to. I can’t take the other choice. Been there, tried that, got the hospital wrist band and missed out on the t-shirt.
People with PTSD are people who battle, but not purely with the past. PTSD is very much a disorder of the present if you ask me; a disorder that affects the present and every moment. The present hurts deeply. Why on earth would I want to curl up with it and befriend something as traumatically disordered as the ‘present’?