PTSD

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#1
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, commonly recognised as a war veterans disease but equally experienced by victims of domestic abuse and indeed by anybody who has experienced perpetual high-level stress to such an extent that it penetrates the deepest level of the human psyche until it meshes with the fabric of the sufferers consciousness to create severe psychological and physical impact.

This condition is believed to have been the cause of the death of one of Australia's Afghanistan veterans, a decorated squad Captain, who recently perished in the elements on a lonely frozen mountain in up-state New York.
Link: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-17/us-authorities-find-body-of-australian-soldier/5204320
My Aunt gave me an old letter home from my Grandfather dated 1923 while he was hunting in the Tyrol area of Austria. He spent years wandering Europe after the War and we don't really know what he was doing for about 6 years of that time. I suspect, like this young Captain, he was trying to work through the ongoing psychological trauma of the years he spent in the trenches in France, having been shot and blown up three times between '15 and '17 and seen his mates and opponents injured and killed on a daily basis for weeks at a time. Given that this year is the centenary of that first true experience of war on a vast regional scale, I thought to start a thread on the topic of PTSD so we can review what we've learned of the condition since then.

I've been reading "Exit Wounds" by Major-General John Cantwell and I'm struck by the capacity of humans to endure so much unimagineable internal psychological pain without disclosing major signs until they melt down completely often with devastating consequences for those close to them or merely near them. According the General Cantwell (who has and continues to suffer PTSD after combat duty in Gulf 1 and operational command in Iraq and Afghanistan), a majority of soldiers coming out of combat situations suffer this condition and are very closely debriefed on their experiences and helped to overcome the worst of the psychological damage before reconnecting fully with the civilian community. However, how often do everyday boys and girls carry this trauma from years of abuse into their teen years and adult lives, all the time hiding their deep emotional pain? So few are ever treated at all. I wonder how much of the vicious crime we see becomming endemic such as school shootings in the US and general street violence everywhere arises out of an undiagnosed PTSD root. The trauma itself seems to be a replicating entity in some ways, as untreated PTSD sufferers can work their pain out in explosive fits of rage on others, or perpetuating abuse by visiting it on their own kids, and such repetition of these kinds of events spawn the next generation of the violence. PTSD may claim more victims than are ascribed to it as it can take years, even decades for deep trauma to surface. Heaven help those who have it, especially if they don't understand that they have it. Is there a way we can emerge socially from the cyclic effects of this severe and often misunderstood condition?


WARNING: This is not a touchy feely subject, so if you've had experiences of your own or your associates' trauma, and wish to post about them be aware that other readers may be prone to misinterpret information and responses are not always sensitive. Consider the effect of posters mishandling your inner experiences well before you commit to a message.
 
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#2
This link is to a 1999 Australian documentary I've posted on another thread about the Vietnam war, but it illustrates within the first few minutes how combat experiences can produce a 'crossover' event whereby the soldier is forced to psychologically disconnect from reality in response to the stress of the situation. The loss of all hope manifests in severe and immediate physical trauma, and lifelong residual psychological illness. It is a good one, because it also shows how vets themselves are probably the best people to train in PTSD management skills to help their comrades through their own problems. It's avery moving account in three parts available through this link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SGgyOvszSI

Apparently many of those who 'went native' in this way during Vietnam combat tours experienced literally a complete change of personality. Mild-mannered suburban schoolboys transformed into unstable killers who should never have been allowed to rejoin civilian life without treatment. The PTSD was just the hangover after the binge. Poor bastards.
 

Iris

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#3
I think some cover it up until something happens to trigger them.
A woman I knew whose husband was in Vietnam had a lot of trouble with him if he drank ,then he would punch holes in the wall.
He was ok usually but when he lost his job he took one at a funeral parlour picking up bodies which probably wasn't the best thing.
He became more unstable and ended in hospital for some time. She works now but he apparently doesn't leave the house. Very sad.
 
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#4
If you're still in touch, there is help for families of Vietnam Veterans.

Veterans' and Veterans' Family Counselling Service VVCS
"VVCS" telephone number is a 24 hour service includes Country Veterans, out of hours CRISIS assistance, please contact a Clinical Counsellor telephone 1800-011-046.

http://www.vvaa.org.au/vvcs.htm
 

Iris

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#5
I haven't seen her for some time and at the time I had told her about the help and I think she contacted them.
I also found out about help in America for a chap I used to chat to who was a vet. He was usually ok but would fly into online rages at an imagined slight. He's dead now, poor chap.
 
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#6
Les Hiddins, a Vietnam Veteran known in Australia as Bush Tucker Man, has set up a retreat for Vietnam Vets called Pandanus Park located in Queensland which also includes opportunities for counselling.

no longer operating / dead link
 
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#7
Isis177 said:
I haven't seen her for some time and at the time I had told her about the help and I think she contacted them.
I also found out about help in America for a chap I used to chat to who was a vet. He was usually ok but would fly into online rages at an imagined slight. He's dead now, poor chap.
I hope they were able to find some relief. The Vietnam Vets are all now in their late 60s and 70s, and many struggle with or succumb to other physical maladies as a result of regular contact with defoliation chemicals like agent orange as well. Under seige from day 1 to day's end. No let-up, even after they returned home. They deserve better.
 

rynner2

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#8
I see dead people. It's normal and more people should talk about it
Flashbacks and intrusive memories are part of dealing with trauma. More of us in the emergency services should be comfortable talking about mental health
Rob Norman
Saturday 30 January 2016 09.02 GMT

This will be my 17th year in the fire and rescue service. In the course of my duties I have responded to a range of incidents including accidents on motorways, train and aircraft crashes, and the fatal fire at Atherstone-on-Stour in 2007, where four of my fellow firefighters lost their lives.
We worked for days to recover the bodies of our fallen colleagues from an unsafe structure, still in the process of collapse. Much could be written about the mental impact of this one incident alone.

It was during the critical incident debrief that followed the fire at Atherstone-on-Stour that I first became aware of intrusive thoughts. My service had contracted a counsellor to discuss the incident with all those who had been there. He explained that the brain is not able to process traumatic incidents in its usual way. Instead, it randomly accesses pieces of your memories at a later stage, which can result in intrusive memories or flashbacks. I was informed that this was normal, and that far from being an indication that my mind was out of control, it was actually essential to my mental health.

I know that I will never forget being stood to attention in a guard of honour, formed by the emergency services staff on site, as the grieving families of the deceased passed by to witness their loved ones being solemnly carried from the building to the waiting funeral cars. I will never forget how heart-wrenching it felt, and that even though I didn’t know any of them personally, they were part of what we often refer to as the 999 family. My 999 family. These are my conscious thoughts, for times of quiet reflection; they do not simply arrive uninvited, causing disruption, unlike my intrusive memories.

Sometimes I see dead people. It is perfectly normal and more people should talk about it. I was told that memories of specific incidents become less frequent as the mind puts the pieces back together and files them away. I was also told that if they don’t, or if they start to interfere with everyday life, it might be worth seeking help.

My experiences over the past 17 years have changed me. The things that I have seen, heard, and felt in that time have left me with new thoughts about life, death, and everything in between. While I don’t personally feel I have a mental health problem, perhaps without support I may have developed one. That possibility exists for any of us.

As part of its blue light programme to improve the mental health of emergency services staff, the charity Mind conducted a survey of 3,627 workers – 87.5% of whom said they had experienced stress, low mood, or poor mental health.

The support offered by my service following this incident has stayed with me, and I am thankful for it. Having been educated in the natural reaction of my mind following a traumatic incident, I am quite happy to discuss it, and this is key. But a recent YouGov poll revealed that nearly a third of us feel uncomfortable talking about mental health. And 71% of emergency services staff responding to the Mind survey felt their organisation did not encourage them to talk about mental health. As a consequence, many people suffer in silence, or turn to other coping mechanisms such as alcohol.

There will always be specific triggers for these recurring memories, such as returning to the scene of an incident. One example for me is the heartbreaking death of a father and his three-year-old son. We had been called to help with the search of a river after a boat had capsized. Two children had been rescued before we got there, and as I arrived on the river bank, the limp body of a third child was being taken from the water and frantically worked on by paramedics. As I struggled to comprehend the scene in front of me, I desperately hoped for some signs of life. There were none.
I remember helping to launch the rescue boat in the shallow water downstream, and the struggle of my teammates to get upstream, passing under a bridge, as the boat made its journey to the site where, later, we recovered the body of the children’s father.

Occasionally I drive over that bridge. Sometimes I don’t even realise I have done it, and my day continues as normal. Other days I spot the sign for the small village as I approach, and I see that father and son once again...

etc...

http://www.theguardian.com/public-l...ple-flashbacks-emergency-services-fireighters

In my time in the Coastguard, I was sometimes involved 'on scene' in a SAR incident, but I never actually encountered any bodies myself. Mostly my involvement with death came at the end of a telephone line or a radio call, which, although a sad thing, is not so traumatic.

People like firefighters, police or emergency ambulance crews have my respect for the hands-on situations they get asked to deal with.
 

Jim

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#10
They have come a long way since WW2 when they simple called it LOMF “Lack of Moral Fiber”. I’m a vet and can relate to this and have seen the effects of PTSD 1st hand.

it takes the courage of a warrior to ASK for help, and anyone else for that matter.
 

Jim

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#12
Who did you serve with, Jim?
Hi Skinny, I served with the US Army in the ADA Air Defense Artillery "short range air defense" I was a radar mechanic. I was overseas but we never had direct contact with hostiles. I spend time working at the Veterans Outreach with war vets mostly Vietnam, but gulf war and Korean as well. Thanks for asking.
 
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#13
Thanks for replying. Do you still give time to the VO? I'd imagine the horrors of the Iraq campaigns have left a ton of new cases for the VA etc to cope with. Another generation of war-fucked fathers and mothers visiting nightmares on their kids is just what the US doesn't need at the moment. As you'd probably know from your work with the Korean and Viet Nam vets, these psychoses take generations for some to overcome. Most never do.

The refugees currently attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea will have many many experiences that will leave them with hell trips for years too. It ain't just direct conflict in war scenarios but also the fringe horrors outside the battle zones that can impact at least as deeply. Even those Euro citizens dealing with the washed up bodies and hacked out souls at that end of the journey get to taste the ragged ends of the wars in Syria et al. The callous disregard for human frailty within those situations (from the bady smugglers to the 'professionals' in leadership and journalism) leaves me very concerned indeed about the state of our 'enlightened' civilisation.

I was listening to an interview in the car this morning and was almost chewing the steering wheel in anger as I listened to some young campaigners for refugee's human rights in Australia. Their organisation is "pleased" that at least the conversation (asylum seekers debate) now encapsulates all points of view and that the howls of fear from the conservative fearmongers is lessened. I don't really understand how they can take that rosy view. There are children going through horrendous situations on Nehru and Manus islands as I type who could be helped right now if our Australian government had the balls to act on the need. There are professional people who want to go in, but the stone cold bureaucracy of the political process means those kids have to suffer and suffer and suffer. If they ever eventually get let into my society, these people will require government funded programs to heal what is current ongoing abuse, and it's our government's responsibility. Its insane.

I seem to have trundled off into rantville. Sorry.
 

Mungoman

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#14
Thanks for replying. Do you still give time to the VO? I'd imagine the horrors of the Iraq campaigns have left a ton of new cases for the VA etc to cope with. Another generation of war-fucked fathers and mothers visiting nightmares on their kids is just what the US doesn't need at the moment. As you'd probably know from your work with the Korean and Viet Nam vets, these psychoses take generations for some to overcome. Most never do.

The refugees currently attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea will have many many experiences that will leave them with hell trips for years too. It ain't just direct conflict in war scenarios but also the fringe horrors outside the battle zones that can impact at least as deeply. Even those Euro citizens dealing with the washed up bodies and hacked out souls at that end of the journey get to taste the ragged ends of the wars in Syria et al. The callous disregard for human frailty within those situations (from the bady smugglers to the 'professionals' in leadership and journalism) leaves me very concerned indeed about the state of our 'enlightened' civilisation.

I was listening to an interview in the car this morning and was almost chewing the steering wheel in anger as I listened to some young campaigners for refugee's human rights in Australia. Their organisation is "pleased" that at least the conversation (asylum seekers debate) now encapsulates all points of view and that the howls of fear from the conservative fearmongers is lessened. I don't really understand how they can take that rosy view. There are children going through horrendous situations on Nehru and Manus islands as I type who could be helped right now if our Australian government had the balls to act on the need. There are professional people who want to go in, but the stone cold bureaucracy of the political process means those kids have to suffer and suffer and suffer. If they ever eventually get let into my society, these people will require government funded programs to heal what is current ongoing abuse, and it's our government's responsibility. Its insane.

I seem to have trundled off into rantville. Sorry.

Hear hear skinny.


When we get kids self harming and fixating on suicide at the ages of 8 and 9, then something abhorrent is happening over there. And all the while our government does nothing, except to bring in legislation that will gaol anybody who speaks up about what really is happening over there.
 

Jim

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#15
Thanks for replying. Do you still give time to the VO? I'd imagine the horrors of the Iraq campaigns have left a ton of new cases for the VA etc to cope with. Another generation of war-fucked fathers and mothers visiting nightmares on their kids is just what the US doesn't need at the moment. As you'd probably know from your work with the Korean and Viet Nam vets, these psychoses take generations for some to overcome. Most never do.

The refugees currently attempting to cross the Mediterranean sea will have many many experiences that will leave them with hell trips for years too. It ain't just direct conflict in war scenarios but also the fringe horrors outside the battle zones that can impact at least as deeply. Even those Euro citizens dealing with the washed up bodies and hacked out souls at that end of the journey get to taste the ragged ends of the wars in Syria et al. The callous disregard for human frailty within those situations (from the bady smugglers to the 'professionals' in leadership and journalism) leaves me very concerned indeed about the state of our 'enlightened' civilisation.

I was listening to an interview in the car this morning and was almost chewing the steering wheel in anger as I listened to some young campaigners for refugee's human rights in Australia. Their organisation is "pleased" that at least the conversation (asylum seekers debate) now encapsulates all points of view and that the howls of fear from the conservative fearmongers is lessened. I don't really understand how they can take that rosy view. There are children going through horrendous situations on Nehru and Manus islands as I type who could be helped right now if our Australian government had the balls to act on the need. There are professional people who want to go in, but the stone cold bureaucracy of the political process means those kids have to suffer and suffer and suffer. If they ever eventually get let into my society, these people will require government funded programs to heal what is current ongoing abuse, and it's our government's responsibility. Its insane.

I seem to have trundled off into rantville. Sorry.
I still give time at the OR. My help is just supplementary. But I talk to a lot of the fellow vets and plenty of them are seeking consoling and psychiatric care. It seems only limited relief can be provided by drugs for PTSD. No one knows why some get it and some don’t. I believe many suffer in silence. Vets needing help in the US can call Crisis Center 1-800-273-8255

I think one thing with both Nam and the Gulf that messed a lot of guys up was that they were supposed to be over there helping people and yet always had to watch their backs against a surprise attack – bomber from the locals, a sense of extreme instability (although are any wars stable). Also the fact that that they so called liberate a village then pulled back because of the bloody game that played out politically and later to find out that that large scale massacres had occurred when hostile retook the village. Like what’s the sense to it all?

It simply awful what ISIS (the murderous dogs) is doing and with ~ 2 million refugees rotting in Turkey and millions more seeking asylum elsewhere. It’s so easy for people to forget that these are people just like you and I. Most have nothing to do with radical Islam and just want to get on with their lives. It’s an awful mess and I don’t know the answer. I’d like to see ISIS defeated, but on the other hand I’d hate to see the US get involved in another politically charged ground war in which we win the war, but loose the peace.

Similar issues but with little help from the west are going on in the Sudan and Equatorial Africa. The poor souls.
 
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#16
I still give time at the OR. My help is just supplementary. But I talk to a lot of the fellow vets and plenty of them are seeking consoling and psychiatric care. It seems only limited relief can be provided by drugs for PTSD. No one knows why some get it and some don’t. I believe many suffer in silence. Vets needing help in the US can call Crisis Center 1-800-273-8255

I think one thing with both Nam and the Gulf that messed a lot of guys up was that they were supposed to be over there helping people and yet always had to watch their backs against a surprise attack – bomber from the locals, a sense of extreme instability (although are any wars stable). Also the fact that that they so called liberate a village then pulled back because of the bloody game that played out politically and later to find out that that large scale massacres had occurred when hostile retook the village. Like what’s the sense to it all?

It simply awful what ISIS (the murderous dogs) is doing and with ~ 2 million refugees rotting in Turkey and millions more seeking asylum elsewhere. It’s so easy for people to forget that these are people just like you and I. Most have nothing to do with radical Islam and just want to get on with their lives. It’s an awful mess and I don’t know the answer. I’d like to see ISIS defeated, but on the other hand I’d hate to see the US get involved in another politically charged ground war in which we win the war, but loose the peace.

Similar issues but with little help from the west are going on in the Sudan and Equatorial Africa. The poor souls.
ISIS will pass. Their flagrant disregard for humanity is worse than terrorism. It's Horrorism. They'll implode. I'm certain of it. But I don't wish to spoil the game. All in good time.
 
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#17
Hi Skinny, I served with the US Army in the ADA Air Defense Artillery "short range air defense" I was a radar mechanic. I was overseas but we never had direct contact with hostiles. I spend time working at the Veterans Outreach with war vets mostly Vietnam, but gulf war and Korean as well. Thanks for asking.
OMG! I really was under the weather with a bug when I read your previous post. I thought you meant an animal vet, I actually thought maybe you dealt with stressed battle dogs!

Bad colds/bugs can lower your IQ level.

Good to hear of your important support work.
 

Swifty

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#18
I still give time at the OR. My help is just supplementary. But I talk to a lot of the fellow vets and plenty of them are seeking consoling and psychiatric care. It seems only limited relief can be provided by drugs for PTSD. No one knows why some get it and some don’t. I believe many suffer in silence. Vets needing help in the US can call Crisis Center 1-800-273-8255

I think one thing with both Nam and the Gulf that messed a lot of guys up was that they were supposed to be over there helping people and yet always had to watch their backs against a surprise attack – bomber from the locals, a sense of extreme instability (although are any wars stable). Also the fact that that they so called liberate a village then pulled back because of the bloody game that played out politically and later to find out that that large scale massacres had occurred when hostile retook the village. Like what’s the sense to it all?

It simply awful what ISIS (the murderous dogs) is doing and with ~ 2 million refugees rotting in Turkey and millions more seeking asylum elsewhere. It’s so easy for people to forget that these are people just like you and I. Most have nothing to do with radical Islam and just want to get on with their lives. It’s an awful mess and I don’t know the answer. I’d like to see ISIS defeated, but on the other hand I’d hate to see the US get involved in another politically charged ground war in which we win the war, but loose the peace.

Similar issues but with little help from the west are going on in the Sudan and Equatorial Africa. The poor souls.
Nice one Jim .. look after yourself and full respect to you for what you're doing mate X
 

Swifty

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#21
UPSETTING READ WARNING ...

I was going to sign up to serve and fight during the first gulf war, the 'girl next door's' Dad talked me out of it and I owe him one big time for that ... my mate came back with PTSD, the thing that made him lose it (he told me) was walking around some corner with his patrol and they found a dead child with a car tyre around his neck, the tyre was still burning because they'd put fuel in it .. one of their own kids .. I wouldn't have been able to get my head around that either, it was obviously done to freak out our troops.
 
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Mungoman

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#23
UPSETTING READ WARNING ...

I was going to sign up to serve and fight during the first gulf war, the 'girl next door's' Dad talked me out of it and I owe him one big time for that ... my mate came back with PTSD, the thing that made him lose it (he told me) was walking around some corner with his patrol and they found a dead child with a car tyre around his neck, the tyre was still burning because they'd put fuel in it .. one of their own kids .. I wouldn't have been able to get my head around that either, it was obviously done to freak out our troops.

It used to happen a lot in Aparthied South Africa - they called it necklacing.
 
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#28
Every thread needs a theme tune.
Sam was lying in the jungle
Agent Orange spread against the sky like marmalade
Hendrix played on some foreign jukebox
They were prayin' to be saved


Things that have occurred to me over a longish life
1. I have experienced dread combat, though I don't remember it
2. If I were to experience dread combat in my life now I'd be crying for mummy in 5 minutes flat
3. After dread combat I'd be using every form of intergalactic gargleblaster to wipe out the despair

I don't know why but all of it is deeply ingrained. I don't subscribe to the lifeview of reincarnation. Wtf is my condition? Am I yearning for some objective form of heroism? Is it (if it is) common to my type?
 

Mungoman

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#30
Sam was lying in the jungle
Agent Orange spread against the sky like marmalade
Hendrix played on some foreign jukebox
They were prayin' to be saved


Things that have occurred to me over a longish life
1. I have experienced dread combat, though I don't remember it
2. If I were to experience dread combat in my life now I'd be crying for mummy in 5 minutes flat
3. After dread combat I'd be using every form of intergalactic gargleblaster to wipe out the despair

I don't know why but all of it is deeply ingrained. I don't subscribe to the lifeview of reincarnation. Wtf is my condition? Am I yearning for some objective form of heroism? Is it (if it is) common to my type?

G'day skinny, both my parents as far as I'm concerned suffered from this. They were both 18 year olds at the time, one was posted overseas (Dad), and one was on the homefront (Mum).

Dads ptsd was obvious from his experiences and his reactions to stress, and Mums wasn't so obvious, but was still there. Dad wouldn't talk about his experiences, and Mum wouldn't shut up about it , to the point of glorifying her service.

If I think about it, family life was seeing Mum and Dad revolve around each other, and not in a good way, knocking sparks of each other, while us kids dodged the kicks and punchs.

At the time and where we were, it didn't seem too unusual, and we just took it as life, because it wasn't unusual for kids to come to school on a monday morning and tell each other about their dad clashing their mother, and you should see her eye an' all.

I suppose what you do learn is there are two ways to bring up kids and how to relate to your partner - one is what you saw your parents do, or, there is the way you know would've worked better - the former is easy, it's just a reaction, the latter isn't easy and it takes deliberate action.

I think that any kid who went through a similar childhood is always waiting for the second shoe to fall - it's what kept us safe - the anticipation of violence or danger - and looking for a way out of it.

Well, that's my story Skinny, anything ring a bell?
 
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