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The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
What PTSD Is
Here's a brilliant post about the kind of PTSD that builds slowly, a pervasive shift in worldview, rather than the kind that comes from a sudden major shock.  This is how it can form in people who aren't front-line soldiers but rather support crew, or cops, or people living in poverty or neglectful relationships.  

Now look at the part where it talks about society not being a safe place, everyone's out to get each other, no trustworthy connections, no safety net if something goes wrong, nobody to care if you live or die.  That's what we're making our world into every time we cut public services and support.  We're making it more like the place inside a PTSD sufferer's head.  "Every man for himself and devil take the hindmost" isn't a society.  It's madness.

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From: siliconshaman Date: March 19th, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
That sounds rather familiar indeed...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

Disturbingly so. I try to create something of a support network, and remind people that there are better ways to live, but very little of it lasts.
From: siliconshaman Date: March 20th, 2013 12:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

You know, thinking about what I do... I'm in the position of yelling 'Fire!' when most everyone else seems intent on ignoring the smoke. [Ok, except for a percentage of the people on my f-list that is]

I'm coming to the conclusion that this is not working, either as a means to fix matters or helping me. It's feeding back into my own issues. [PDSD, prolonged duress stress disorder, similar but not quite.]

But I hear what you are saying as well.. that we're just building sand castles here really. One cannot build a healthy personal environment in a toxic society, at least, not for long.

I think then that there aren't too many options left. Either to opt out altogether or to give up, lay down and die metaphorically, [or possibly literally if one really gives into despair.]

I think I need to think about this.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>You know, thinking about what I do... I'm in the position of yelling 'Fire!' when most everyone else seems intent on ignoring the smoke. [Ok, except for a percentage of the people on my f-list that is] <<

Frequently true.

>>But I hear what you are saying as well.. that we're just building sand castles here really. One cannot build a healthy personal environment in a toxic society, at least, not for long.<<

There are some steps that can be taken, but the people who want the world in ruins have more leverage than the ones who don't.

>>I think then that there aren't too many options left. Either to opt out altogether or to give up, lay down and die metaphorically, [or possibly literally if one really gives into despair.]<<

When I have the energy and opportunities, I work on making the world a better place. When I don't, I step back and wait to recharge.

At least I'll have the satisfaction of standing in the foyer-ever-after and saying, "I fucking told you so." I may not be able to stop the bastards from creating one catastrophe after another, but I can make them work for it.

ideealisme From: ideealisme Date: March 20th, 2013 01:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

" I'm in the position of yelling 'Fire!' when most everyone else seems intent on ignoring the smoke."

Or in my case, that I'm taking the fire way too personally and need to have a more resilient spirit. Funny, I don't think resilience ever worked as a fire extinguisher.

I had a year of being unable to deal with the population of my country not giving a sh*t about the way they were being treated about mental health. Then, at some stage, I burnt out myself. Perhaps that's no bad thing. Artists change society through art - campaigning by itself isn't enough until you have artistic power behind your words.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>Artists change society through art - campaigning by itself isn't enough until you have artistic power behind your words.<<

Sometimes I sign petitions or do other activism. Sometimes I write stories that are generally positive, even if they have gritty parts.

Then there are times when I lose my temper and release things that can really hurt people if read by legitimate targets.
ravan From: ravan Date: March 20th, 2013 04:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Hypervigilance. I had that for years after I graduated high school. Mistrust, cynicism, paranoia - yep, all from bullying. What's worse, every time I end up with a corporate bully for a boss, I end up re-triggered, and stressed.

So I am an iconoclast, the person who questions, who tries to protect others, sometimes by being the one to say "The Emperor has no clothes!" I've already been burned out several times.

Coming close to homelessness, being accosted on the street, starving, just more crap in the mill. That's why I can't even relate to the "Devil take the hindmost" attitude, because I've spent too much time as the hindmost, and I take it very personally.

The only reason suicide has never appealed to me is that it would give the bastards too much of a victory. Some years I kept living out of sheer spite.

My way of dealing with it is seeing making at least one person's life easier, better, happier as I go through my day as a victory. Answer a question, give someone a tool, tell a joke, make a pun, or just listen to their problems counts.

If I didn't have that, I'd be batshit crazy looking for a bell tower.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 05:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>Hypervigilance. I had that for years after I graduated high school. Mistrust, cynicism, paranoia - yep, all from bullying. What's worse, every time I end up with a corporate bully for a boss, I end up re-triggered, and stressed.<<

That probably happens far more than most people realize.

>>So I am an iconoclast, the person who questions, who tries to protect others, sometimes by being the one to say "The Emperor has no clothes!" I've already been burned out several times.<<

Yea, verily.

>>My way of dealing with it is seeing making at least one person's life easier, better, happier as I go through my day as a victory. Answer a question, give someone a tool, tell a joke, make a pun, or just listen to their problems counts.<<

It's important to make a difference.

For all the times people have fucked me over, walked away, told lies behind my back, left me to do all the work ... I'm still the one they come to when they don't know what the fuck to do. Now that's what they call irony.
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: March 20th, 2013 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some years I kept living out of sheer spite.

Hey, don't knock it if it works. I'm specifically making myself responsible for some things (including a webcomic) as a safeguard against suicide. For me, duty > everything.

--Rogan
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 10:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>>Hey, don't knock it if it works.<<

Agreed. Do what works for you.

>> I'm specifically making myself responsible for some things (including a webcomic) as a safeguard against suicide. For me, duty > everything.
--Rogan <<

It's good to hear that you know how your mind works and can find solutions based on that. Yay for webcomics!
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 22nd, 2013 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>For me, it's having had to both piece together what made a friend check out in similar circumstances and deal with my own responses.<<

Useful comparison.

>> Knowing that him doing that broke me so spectacularly ... unless I can guarantee I won't break someone else the same way, my damn sense of responsibility won't let me. <<

I'm glad you're still here. Losing you wouldn't break me, and I wouldn't want anyone to feel trapped in an unbearable life on my account. But I'd miss you if you were gone.
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 07:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>Thank you for the link to that article, Ysabet. I'm going to be bookmarking it for certain people. <<

*hugs* I'm glad I could help.

>>I'd still love to know how my colleagues on that team avoided ending up the way i have ... unless too much empathy was to blame, or something similar - I'll take feeling too much over too little.<<

Anyone can be broken, but not everyone's breaking point is in the same place. In particular, some people are highly resilient to sudden severe shocks but vulnerable to sustained stress, while others are the opposite. Some are damaged far more by harm to others than harm to themselves, some the opposite. One might be fearless in the face of weapons in the hands of an enemy but shattered by abuse from a relative, or vice versa. So if something horrid happens to a group of people, chances are some of them will sustain traumatic damage from it while others won't, and the degree of impairment and symptoms are likely to vary.

The more representations of PTSD that are available, the more likely people with it are to see something that matches their experience. So that helps identify it and encourage people to seek help if such is desired and available.

This divergence between different manifestations and expectations reminds me a bit of the situation with rape, where people usually think of stranger rape because it's so garish, but acquaintance rape is far more common. A lot of people who have been raped just don't realize it because their mental image of the crime is so different from what they experienced, even if it fits the legal definition. So for example, if people think of PTSD as a doorkicker's problem featuring vivid flashbacks, they might not recognize that three years of domestic abuse resulting in insomnia and touch-aversion could be a different facet of the same condition.
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 08:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>I know that *intellectually*,<<

There's a long hard way between knowing and feeling.

>> but there were thirty odd of us all told, and sometimes, when I'm feeling especially broken I can't help but feel angry at them for not even noticed I was being broken by the cases i was dealing with. <<

Sooth. It may be that you hid it well; you're a strong person. It may be that some of them really didn't care. It's downright likely that some of them didn't see how wrecked you were, because they were wrecked too, just not showing it noticeably; it's often the case in groups that some damage will be more visible than others.

>>Both the personal (the suicide of a friend & the death in a RTA of another that forced me to pull away from part of my support structure) and the day in, day out deaths in Afghanistan, some for the stupidest reasons - and some because no one had read our reports yet.<<

Yeah, that last bit is really hard. Lack of accurate information can be fatal. I think people don't realize how crucial knowledge is. One of the things I deal with least well is problems caused by other people's ignorance or indifference in the face of knowledge that I have.
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

>>I think the incidents that stick worst in my mind are the ones that involve egregious cases of that.<<

Sooth. That's always going to hurt.

>>and that kind of detail coupled with a mind used to meditations/trances and fabricating worlds for writing?<<

Yyyyeah ... that's a problem. That kind of mindset can tear itself apart under the wrong circumstances. The strength and the weakness of the power are the same thing; like the way super hearing makes it possible to hear a lost person from a distance, but also makes sirens a misery. There are things I try to limit my exposure to for that kind of reason.

>>On the slightly brighter side of things, later this year I should be attending a chronic pain programme specifically geared for people with PTSD, despite technically not fufilling the diagnostic criteria on the UK psych manuals, as my secondary care professionals agree its the best course of treatment for me they can offer.<<

Good luck with it!

A lot of mental health care comes down to "We don't really know what's going on because the mind isn't something we can X-ray but this is the best we've been able to figure out as a solution." Sometimes it helps. It's just so much harder to fix things that can't be touched directly with what most people have available.
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 22nd, 2013 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

So much that people need is either unavailable, or available only with the permission of people who don't always have their best interests at heart. It's very frustrating.
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: March 20th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now look at the part where it talks about society not being a safe place, everyone's out to get each other, no trustworthy connections, no safety net if something goes wrong, nobody to care if you live or die.

I admit, I've been having a lot of these thoughts since I fell off the money ladder and entered the disability application process. Like, I'm extremely lucky, in that I have pretty good health insurance and a lot of people who love me, but I'm still living in that damn crawl space, and I'm likely to be there for another six months, at least. (I never imagined my dreams at the age of twenty-five would involve four walls and a window.)

Like, it's bad enough if I'm just spectacularly unlucky, right, but the horrible thought is that I'm LUCKY. I would never, ever want anyone else to go through what I've been going through the past year, and I've never even hit the rock bottom of true homelessness.

And I wonder, was the system always this bad? I haven't been around long enough to know. The world just feels like a cold, vicious place, and I hate the thought that I'm coming out LUCKY on the stack!

--Rogan
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 20th, 2013 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>> (I never imagined my dreams at the age of twenty-five would involve four walls and a window.) <<

And that's what the American Dream has come down to, hoping you have health insurance and a roof of some kind. It's a disgrace.

>>And I wonder, was the system always this bad?<<

No. Very early on, it was a great deal worse. Then people decided that was untenable, so they made it quite a lot better. Now people think it's okay to let someone suffer and die if he can't do anything you want, so things are getting pretty bad.

>> The world just feels like a cold, vicious place, and I hate the thought that I'm coming out LUCKY on the stack! <<

One thing that worries me is how much effort it takes to get any kind of help. A great many people who need help do not have the time, money, energy, or other resources to fight with the system in hopes of maybe wringing loose something that will make them feel better. So if they don't have a friend or family member to do that for them, they often go untreated. Which does actually cause problems for bystanders even if people don't realize that.
cissa From: cissa Date: March 24th, 2013 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I am convinced that if i grow old, I will be living on the street and rely on a cat to catch me pigeons to eat. (This is based on a Doris Lessing story that obviously had a serious impact.)

My husband tells me that's crazy... but I remain convinced. I just don't believe anyone has my back, and that's PTSD talking.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 25th, 2013 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

What bothers me is the tendency to skid along the spectrum from "good world" to "bad world." PTSD is, at heart, an adaptation for survival in a very dangerous situation, that becomes a problem when it can't shut off in a less-dangerous situation. But sometimes the world really is a mess, sometimes people will hurt you and nobody will care if you die. That's a bad thing. It's even worse when people lie about it and say there's help when there isn't, or when the "help" actually makes things worse. Because then, if there's already a disconnect between the events in the world and the perception of the world, that gets worse when the false information doesn't match the events.

I want to live in a world that doesn't randomly break people. What I actually have is a world that's so erratic in its performance that trying to predict it is like trying to predict whether the psycho boyfriend is in the mood for flowers or fists. That's a problem.
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