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Are You Suffering From Post Traumatic Stress?

skipper85's picture
Posts: 231
Joined: Sep 2010

What many of us are suffering from is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is separate from the grieving.

There are (3) phases to recovery:

1. Impact phase - victims react to protect themselves and the lives of others - a natural reaction; or, may be stunned and unable to protect themselves.
Stressors during this phase can lead to subsequent health issues:
a. Threat to life
b. Helpless feeling
c. Loss of loved ones, home, possessions
d. Feeling responsible
e. Inescapable horror

2. Immediate post-disaster phase - rescue activity begins, first sign of disaster's (death's) effect on viction's mental health appear - Emotional responses to stressors.
a. Numbness, despair
b. Denial, shock
c. Flashbacks, nightmares
d. Reaction to loss
e. Anger
f. Hopelessness

3. Recovery phase - prolonged period of adjustment to return to normal; time depends on extent of devastation, ability to recover - Physical responses to stressors show up.
a. Problems sleeping
b. Indigestion
c. Fatigue
Social responses to stressors may follow
a. Difficutlies at work or with relationships

At 9 months since my husband's passing I am somewhere between phases 2 and 3.

Where are you?


Posts: 167
Joined: Apr 2009

I am sorry you are experiencing this level of stress but pleased you are making inroads to recovery. I can’t say I am suffering PTSD-at least I don’t think I am.

(On a sidebar; whenever I hear a low flying aircraft I duck suddenly-I was in Reno two weeks ago at the air races and if you follow the news you will understand why I do that).

My wife’s illness was protracted, meaning she did not die suddenly, violently. However, her last day on this earth still stays with me and at times relive the experience-but I have not encountered the 3 phases you list and if I understand correctly in order to be dx. with PTSD, one must experience a majority of those symptoms.

I have not blamed myself for her death, (Colon cancer) in fact, there have been times when I blame her and feel angry because it was so preventable, then feel guilty for feeling angry and so on and so on.

I still dream of her several times a month. Sometimes I hear her voice in the house, or think I do.

I admit I refuse to sleep in our bed. Can’t or won’t do it. I can have family and friends over and they have slept in our room, but I cannot. Time to buy a new bed I guess.

I wish you continued recovery – I can’t say I know what you are feeling, but I will share that I/we understand what you are experiencing more than most.


skipper85's picture
Posts: 231
Joined: Sep 2010

You and the others on these boards have gotten me through some really tough times. I'm sure I'll get through this. You are definitely still grieving and my heart goes out to you. I know in days to come things will be easier. Just relying on God and friends for support. Both are coming through for me. I wish the same for you and all the others who have lost a loved one or who are about to lose someone they love.


ktlcs's picture
Posts: 360
Joined: Jan 2010

I cared for my husband who had been left wheelchair bound after a stroke for 8 eight years before losing him to colon cancer in a short 9months. I remained strong through the whole i ordeal, never even thought about it except for what it was doing for him. After it was over I thought I was going crazy I was always so strong and now it seemed I was falling apart at the seams. Dr diagnosed PTSD. I go back and forth between stages things get better for awhile, I feel like I am moving forward and BAM something hits me and sends me back to day 1 . I am told this is normal by the Dr but how long does it last. It's been 18 months, I don't want to feel this way and don't want anyone to see it. I am told it can take a long time, especially since I was in it for a long time. I would say I am stuck in stage 2. How long does it take?

Posts: 35
Joined: Dec 2011

Wow I think right now I'm bouncing back and forth with 2 and 3. It's only been a little over a month since I lost my mom and phase 1 happened immediately upon the first signs something was wrong with her health. Instinct told me things were real bad. By the time we finally heard the word "cancer" we'd been through so much additional horror and horror is the only word to describe it we had actually become numb and remained in shock.

I carried phase 1 with me day and night the entire 9 months she was ill. I honestly think I was in denial or was running from the fact that she really was going to be gone before the year was over. The moment of her death every emotion I pushed away and every image I desperately tried to remove so I could focus on her comfort came crashing back. I thought it wouldn't because the exhaustion I experienced seemed to block all of that so well. I think I even mentioned it hear that as I looked at her dead body it was like a slow panning out to the final scene of a movie and all I kept saying was.. I can't believe it. Over and over.

I thought I'd done so well being organized and keeping it together enough so that I thought I'd find comfort that she was no longer suffering and instead I found instantly you just can't script the reality of how you will feel when they really are gone. I have horrible vivid flashbacks and overwhelming levels of emotion that come out of nowhere. I've woken up hearing her voice calling me and instinctively I'll think I'm back to care providing mode and jump up only to look around and see all signs of my home being transformed into a hospital ward are gone and so is she.

I call this feeling a veil of so much deep saddness I try my damndest to keep it looming above my head so to speak for as long as I can knowing eventually it will come crashing down on me and when it does it feels like it just invades my whole body in waves rippling through me. I can't even describe the type of crying I experience. It's so deep I can only say my soul is weeping. There are moments no matter what I do I have to fight the thought I will never experience joy since she is no longer here to share my joys with so I do feel hopeless. I won't lie.

I've thought of suicide just to finally resolve all the dispair and misery I've carried day after day hour after hour. I've even thought if I leave a proper letter to explain I wasn't giving up I just came to the conclusion I can't carry this type of loss for the rest of my life. Misery is an understatement. Then there is that moment that says don't do it. Where that instinct to move fwd comes from I don't know but I suspect it's my mom flowing through my blood telling me to hold on.

I can't explain the type of fatigue I'm experiencing these days. It's 1:30 in the morning as I type this but my mind seems to zoom late at night. However, when I do finally get any sleep it lasts for two hours and I'll wake up with my heart racing and if I can get back to sleep it's an additional 4 or 5 and yet I'm still feeling absolutely exhausted. I am aware I probably do need a good months daily rest as the last 9 months I got next to none at all. When I get busy doing things a sudden feeling as if weights are on me comes out of nowhere. Usually I'd push through that lethargic feeling but for now I am pampering myself in that one area. If I feel tired I rest right then. I'm usually always exhausted at my new job but to be honest I don't care. I'm there to make money to pay bills and find zero joy in it. I've done that type of a routine now for almost a year where you just work on autopilot to get it all done. It's like I was trained for that lifestyle now.

As for social things that is also an issue with me. Most days I want to be left alone. A year ago I was a social butterfly. Now I fake being happy when I am talking to someone but inside I'm always thinking get away from me. I shop at very odd hours to avoid seeing anyone in the store that may know me. My mom, well my entire family, is very well known in our community so I've even traveled a distance to buy grocerys to avoid running into anyone. I hate the same comments. She's better off, now you can focus on yourself, so what are your plans now? as if it's done and over so get on with life and I'm suppose to be excited about this new journey without my moms Cancer being an issue blah blah blah... Oh if it were that easy. I'd love to hand them all of it and then they'd understand how her death was no gift for a brand new magically deliscious life for me. I hate that I just smile and don't really say whats on my mind when I hear that b.s.

The hospice social worker told me I should go see my Dr to help with the sleeping issues and that I should also consider some form of counciling. I know she's right. I hate the idea of taking a pill but I do know I need the rest. Venting is always good so the counciling should be considered as well but I don't think right now I want anyone inside of me to know what I'm feeling. Unless they've seen these things and unless they've taken lifes complete journey the way I have always looking out after someone who would end up dying so visciously I feel they aren't going to get this loss. So again I'd feel all alone.

I hate this. I hate that my entire immediate family is gone ( Brother, Dad, and now Mom ) I look at old pictures of all of us and I'm shocked I'm the only one left. I don't like this role. It's empty but every time I feel this way I can see and hear my mom saying... "It's going to be ok"

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