captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/19/21 10:29 p.m.

Tonight was the first time I've been exposed to fireworks since the car jacking last August and rather unexpectedly, it's clear that I'm far from okay. What is a long overdue holiday that should be a beautiful celebration to serve as encouragement to move forward resulted in 20 minutes of panic stricken anxiety, ugly crying and finally managing to get down to the basement isolated from the noise and concussion. 


I'm not okay. Far from it. I don't talk about the incident anymore as I feel that I should be passed it, over it and that I don't want it to be something that defines me or the city that I love and want to make better. I work in the city, I go out and dine in the city and support local businesses within it without any hesitation, but I haven't been able to bring myself to venture back to where everything occurred. I'm scarred and I don't know how to heal and I'm at a loss with regards to finding a direction to attempt to make things better. 

mtn MegaDork
6/19/21 11:29 p.m.

First things first, do you have a psychiatrist? You have PTSD. You probably need medication if you're not already on it. The psych will listen to your symptoms and help you to figure out what meds will help, possibly [edit]likely[/edit] temporary, until your psyche is able to recover. My wife went through a few before she found one that helped.

You will probably also want counseling - that is going to be different than the psychiatrist. This will be to treat the underlying issue. 

CBD may help, but consult the professionals. 

You should probably learn some CPT - cognitive processing therapy. From there you may move on to DBT - forget what that one is called off the top of my head. 

Guided meditation may help as well. Bella Ruth is recommended, "she has crap for everything" my wife says. She finds it helpful. Sometimes you fall asleep during it.  



All of this has helped my wife with her PTSD, from where she used to be shaking crying, having a panic attack [edit] during fireworks[/edit], to now she is just super irritable. For her, it took a lot of effort - denial that something was wrong led to a hospitalization for the PTSD in a 2 week program. Some 9 years later, after Angela passed, she went back for a partial hospitalization program. If that is what you need, don't be afraid or ashamed of it. They saved my wife's life. 


I'll share with my wife and see what else she says. Invest in some good quality noise cancelling headphones, and custom ear plugs.

KyAllroad UltimaDork
6/19/21 11:38 p.m.

The summer after Desert Storm I was hanging out with family.  Playing a bit of volleyball at the pond house when someone across the water threw a brick of firecrackers in a steel family thought it was hilarious that I hit the deck and was burrowing into the sand.

In 1996 I was at the Atlanta Olympics and had some hardcore flashbacks and went to find security because "something seemed wrong".   It wasn't for another hour I realized that the rubber track smelled like the inside of a gas mask and was a trigger.   

Trauma is weird.   Responses to trauma are even weirder.  What your brain does to cope is completely unpredictable.   Just don't let it own you, you're in charge, not your lizard brain that wants to freak out.

OHSCrifle GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
6/20/21 4:10 a.m.

I don't have useful advice but I can definitively say my appreciation for the slippery slope that is mental health has changed dramatically in the past year. I hope you can find some relief from the PTSD. 

TheRyGuy New Reader
6/20/21 7:24 a.m.

Sorry to hear about all that. I definitely know the feeling of "I'm not ok". I too have PTSD (from a past bad relationship). Last year I recognized the  symptoms (just like what you described, after a triggering event) and got help. 

What I did was see a psychologist and she had me do what's known as EMDR therapy. (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Basically you are rewiring the neural pathways in your brain to not respond to that past trauma in the same way. As I understand it, it has wide use among first responders and the military. It might seem odd at first that it actually would work, (I had my doubts, certainly), I think though the results speak for themselves. It took me several sessions to see improvement, and every case is different, but in my case it was very healing. 

No meds were needed in my case, but sometimes they are to help you get to a more stable place. The psychologist would be better able to determine if that's the case for you.

Like all psychology, it takes work on your part, but it is so freeing to be able to work past trauma.

Best of luck to you. I know you feel scared at the moment, (and that's normal, no shame here), but you can deal with this. 


TL;DR.... Find a psychologist who does EMDR therapy.

mtn MegaDork
6/20/21 7:51 a.m.

One note based on that last post: Psychiatrist is a medical doctor. MD (or possibly a DO in the United States only). They can prescribe meds. 

A psychologist is not a medical doctor. Most of them do have doctorates, but it is possible to practice with just a masters and some additional certifications. In Illinois (where I live), some of them CAN prescribe meds, but it is pretty rare here and we are one of only 4 or 5 states in which that is the case. Maryland is not one of them. 

For you, this seems like it wouldn't be a huge differentiator in terms of care beyond the meds (and I'm not an expert here), but it can make a difference for other reasons. For instance, my friend thought she was having panic attacks. Before writing a script, the psychiatrist ordered a full blood panel; he/she wanted to do some actually diagnosing. This led to discontinuation of care by the psychiatrist, and the start of care by an endocrinologist because her thyroid numbers were completely out of whack which were causing the "panic attacks" that were actually nothing to do with panic, but her thyroid going crazy and causing hot flashes and rapid heart beat and everything else that quacks like a panic attack. 

I doubt this is the issue with you, especially since you probably have a team of specialists anyway with everything you've had going on in your medical life. 

infinitenexus Dork
6/20/21 9:07 a.m.

For me, the best things have been time and talking about it. Definitely get a therapist/psychiatrist and go regularly. I wish you all the best with this 

Cchambers13 New Reader
6/20/21 1:05 p.m.

The biggest hurdle to mental health is accepting things can be better, which you are doing. 

Take time to celebrate that for yourself. You are strong for asking for help. The next steps will be putting in the work with a counselor of some sort or whichever path works for you. You got this! And are not alone.

Javelin (Forum Supporter)
Javelin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/20/21 3:13 p.m.

I am sorry about your experiences with the carjacking and now the triggering event. I have been diagnosed with PTSD since 2004 and know what you are feeling. I hope that you can find the help to get the closure and peace you need. Fireworks is a really tough one to deal with this time of year.

Recognizing that you have PTSD and looking for help is honestly the biggest hurdle. There's no one answer to solve it, but finding a counselor and talking it out can help immensely. I thought I was over my PTSD from my injury in the military, but was still having symptoms over a decade later. Working with my counselor I figured out that I was having secondary PTSD from all the VA's medical screw ups after the fact and was getting triggered by not being heard. Finding the innocuous triggers was monumental for me.

The VA actually has a fantastic app called the PTSD coach:

This is extremely useful for tracking your triggering events, and being a tool to use in the moment to calm down. I use it a lot. There's mini-apps within the main app that you can use like Grounding, Ambient Sounds, and a Time Out. There's a weekly tracker if you want to do that, and quick access buttons for help in a crisis. I recommend it for everyone (it's free and you don't have to be Vet and there's no personal information inputted).

I'll echo above that finding a Psychiatrist and a Mental Health Counselor both is a great plan for combating PTSD.


slefain PowerDork
6/20/21 7:33 p.m.

You've made the first step knowing you need help. I ended up with PTSD after a random drunk Florida Man on a crotch rocket plastered himself across the front of my SUV head-on. Minor physical injuries on my part, but the whole incident messed me up. My doctor got me pointed over to a counselor and it made a huge difference. I didn't go the meds route though, instead whenever the walls started closing in I'd jump on my bicycle and do a lap of the neighborhood. I spent a LOT of days with a 10-hour loop of ocean waves playing in my office while I worked. Sounds weird, but like Javelin said there are some useful tools out there.

I won't lie, I'm not the same as I was before the incident. I don't sit back and stay quiet like I used to, I speak my mind a lot more. I put up with WAY less crap. But getting help (after admitting I needed help) made a huge difference. Hang in there man.


And since it didn't come up I'll say it anyway: peace ain't at the bottom of a bottle. I never hit that point, but the very idea scared me bad enough to see my doctor first.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/20/21 8:08 p.m.

EMDR worked well for my friend.  I had hoped that my therapist would have used it with me.  I have a touch of PTSD but it isn't bad.

I will botch the explanation, but it uses one of several stimuli like flashing lights, vibrating things you hold in your hands, combined with other things.  

Basically, trauma and its response are typically held in one hemisphere.... the right, I think.  The right is what focuses on details.  The left is what gives your brain the big picture.  If you're threading a needle, it's your right brain doing that thinking.  If someone asks you a question while you're threading that needle, that's the left brain taking in the whole picture and responding.

When you have been triggered, your right brain instantly focuses on the details of the trauma and the response, and without the "bigger picture" processing of the left brain, it stays rooted in the details of the trauma.  You don't have the left side function to potentially add the logic and allow you to calmly process that you are not in the same situation as when the trauma originated.  PTSD is the condition of the trigger re-instating the trauma without any other parts of the brain to counteract it because it shuts them off.

EMDR is designed (partly) to slap the other side of the brain into action.  When the trauma is happening and the other side of the brain is asleep at the wheel, EMDR gives it a stimulus... a slap in the face to say "wake up and do your job."

Any real therapists/psychologists/psychiatrists help me out here?  Is that a fair description?  I'm just a Master's student at this point.

SkinnyG (Forum Supporter)
SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
3/22/23 11:32 p.m.

Bringing this back from the dead.

Starting my first shot at EMDR next month.  Figured I'd see what the hive has already shared, and was not disappointed. 

My new Family Doctor recommended I see a local psychologist over my life-long struggle with depression.  Met with Psychologist early this week.  Still seems weird to think my childhood has given me some sort of PTSD.  I was there, I thought it was normal at the time.....

They figure they can get rid of 80% of my depression, the rest will still be coming from my work.  80% is infinitely better than 0%.

yupididit GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/23/23 6:48 a.m.

In reply to SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) :

Childhood PTSD is real and most of us don't even know we have it. I've been on and off with my PTSD battle. I should be more proactive and seek help but idk I've been lazy about it? I am tired of waiting longer for certain tables at a restaurant lol.

SkinnyG (Forum Supporter)
SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/28/23 10:45 a.m.

First session of EMDR.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming. PTSD Therapy.

In theory, your emotion processes things during REM sleep.  Except if it's too traumatic, it just blocks it and you never really process it.  This treatment suckers your emotions into thinking you're in REM, and through some leading questions by the therapist, you just talk through the feelings you had at certain times in a calm and safe environment, and your emotions feel calm enough to unpack it, process it, and let it go.  At least that's how I understand it.

Psychotherapist suggested taking a couple hours after just to process before going to any appointments or anything.  I have enough sick days, I just took the day off.

I held two sort of handles in my hands, that would vibrate alternatingly between each hand. Also watched a simple dot of light move back and forth on a screen (makes my eyes move like in REM). I'm fully awake and alert through the whole thing.

Therapist asked me to think of a time where I felt safe, comfortable, preferably something unassociated with sadness.  I thought of a spot up in a forest (border of Alaska, where I lived as a kid) that I enjoyed, though it was also a spot I went to once when my parents were fighting violently (moreso my mom being violent; pops never hit back), and my dad found me and we just sat and hugged.  I was probably 9 or 10. Don't know how he found me, or if he, too, was just trying to get away, I don't know.  Anyways, that was the spot that was "comfort" for me.

Then with limited guidance, I just talked about how I felt in some times of some of the traumas in my life.  I talked about some of my childhood, some of my first marriage, there was some tears, some anger, some grief, but I just talked about how I felt.  Throughout, my emotions would go deep until I guess my emotions would say "that's enough" and I would switch to less painful (sometimes connected) stories, and then dip back into some hurtful experience again.

I've talked out the poo storm of life with close friends and limited family members in the past, and while talking it out lightens some of the burden, I was not expecting the result of just this one hour session:

After the session (started 8am), I just sat in my car in the parkinglot with my eyes closed for about 15minutes just trying to process it all.  I drove home and went for an hour and a half walk in solitude and quiet (I live out near lots of orchards and farms), then napped for two and a half hours.  I was in bed that evening by 8:30.

The next day, I was still trying to figure out my headspace.  I wasn't sure how I was doing, it was like I had a completely different space in my head that I hadn't figured out yet.  Not unsettling, but not exactly comfortable either.  A very different end result than just talking it out with a friend over a pint.

The following day, I was certainly a bit less bothered by E36 M3 at work. Less bothered, but not gone.

I have four more sessions this month (one per week).  I'll keep you abreast of how it goes.

Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter)
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) Dork
4/28/23 12:08 p.m.

In reply to SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) :

Thank you for sharing this. Please continue to keep us updated with future treatments.

SkinnyG (Forum Supporter)
SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
5/23/23 5:56 p.m.

4th session today.  The last two were nowhere near as emotionally devastating as the first session.  The first session was like I stepped out of my head, and someone got in and cleaned up, and I came back and went "where'd all my E36 M3 go?"

THIS session, became more pointed, targeting in on some stories I told, really hitting home on some early stages of my childhood.  Using this site for example, one of the key things early on in life are about establishing trust from your caregiver. The Therapist had brought up a number of times where I am in essence saying I have trust issues, but today it became more solid for me.

In targeting and digging, my emotions were very quick to shut down any inquiry; my mind can logic a mindset that prevents the release of this feelings and emotions as a kid (cue "The Wall" by Pink Floyd").  I can easily rationalize, dismiss, and not go down that rabbit hole.  I want to, but I sure am protecting myself from.... me.

Came home certainly more drained.

So, I have homework.  I'm journaling my significant childhood irritants and writing a list of "Berkeley-You!" statements to hopefully recognize the pain and get it out in the open, right or wrong, to acknowledge them and the pain they caused, in hopes to "process" them and release them.  Hopefully we can get them out in the next session.

And.... I booked more sessions.

Have I mentioned I have an amazing and supportive wife?

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