• Michelle Partington

An embarrassing side effect…

I was absolutely shattered last night but when I went to bed it took me ages to get off to sleep. My mind was so busy and the wind was howling so bad, shaking the windows, pushing against the front door making it rattle and making ghostly sounds down the chimney. I eventually got off to sleep but had another hideous dream. The dreams I’m having vary in severity but are definately related to what I saw, smelt and felt out on tour. They are extremely vivid with unimaginable horrors and sometimes I’m fearing for mine or my comrades life.

So my latest dream was mainly about two people who I knew but I couldn’t tell you who they were now but I felt very close to them. They had both died in their bed and their flesh was rotting. I’m not sure how long they had been there but I was absolutely in bits over their deaths. They smelt absolutely rancid but I couldn’t walk away from them. Eventually my nanna and grandad took me away from the scene. A little later I walked past the same room, stepped inside and noticed the bodies had been removed. All that remained were remnants of end of life bodily fluid staining the sheets and bits of flesh all over the bed.

I woke up in a bit of a mess and sadly and embarresly noticed I had wet the bed again, either that or I had worked up a heck of a crazy mad sweat! I do think it was the first though or the dampness would have been further up the bed. I feel really embarressed to be sharing this with you but I have to open up and admit it to you or else what is the point of doing this blog at all. I felt like a naughty child gathering up my dirty laundry in the middle of the night.

I’d stated on one of my facebook pages that I wanted to meet someone special and break down those barriers but who’s going to want to date me now. I’ve probably just jinxed myself but I had to open up to let you know your not alone and that everyone needs to be able to relate to others going through the same turmoil. I would like to say though that if I do meet someone I would always be worried about inviting them to stay over. Time will tell I guess; “Through sickness.and in health….and wet bed sheets.”

Thankfully wetting the bed has only happened 3 or 4 times since being diagnosed with PTSD but obviously I cannot control if and when it will happen. I do have a mattress protector on thankfully but even that is embarressing because its like having a plastic sheet on your bed as a kid, rustling every time you turn over. I know it happens as a result of my horrendous nightmares and I have been told by my counsellor that it’s an unconscious defensive mechanism to stop an attack or from the sight of terrible trauma. I eventually took a sleeping tablet to get me back off to sleep because all I could think about was the dream and wetting the bed.

I know I have talked briefly about my time in afghan and my dreams but imagine experiencing the most terrifying horror movie you’ve ever seen playing over and over again in your mind. You just can’t fight the images to make them go away. Most of the worst dreams stay with me throughout the day and one of the things it causes me to form is emotional detachment. This is not obvious outwardly to anyone other than the person experiencing it but it is very real. For those of you experiencing the same thing, your system goes into emotional overdrive, finding it difficult to be the loving member of the family you used to be. If your anything like me you would do anything to avoid activities, busy places, and anyone who would be a reminder or a trigger to the traumatic event. You’re drained emotionally and physically and have trouble functioning nearly every day. Any sudden noises make me jump out of my skin when others would probably just be startled by it. I completely overreact to small things and have immense difficulty in concentrating frequently. I worry that all this would affect my chances of finding a job where I can perform and function well. Who knows what my future holds when my days are troubled and my nights even more so. Time will tell I guess. Being diagnosed with Complex PTSD limits my employability and it would take a truly understanding employer to hire me.

PTSD is among only a few mental health illnesses triggered by a disturbing external event which can range from transport accidents, sexual assault and domestic violence. Other experiences, including natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornados, affect multiple people simultaneously or just one individual. PTSD isnt unique to the military, anyone from child to the elderly can suffer some or all the symptoms and just can’t stop remembering the trauma singular or repetitively. It causes psychological and biological changes in anyone living through these demons. Mental health specialists such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and other health care professionals can attempt to understand your response to these traumatic events and help your recovery from the impact of the trauma. Not everyone who is exposed to trauma either experienced or witnessed suffers PTSD. Some people won’t have serious long term effects. They will of course have memories but they will go on to live their lives without the constant debilitating fear. A group of people witnessing a singular event may be affected in different ways and not everyone will suffer anything of consequence.

It has taken me some time to accept what is happening to me, especially when things like last night happen. I know research has shown that PTSD is associated with changes in brain function and that those with certain pre-existing abnormalities in the brain’s stress-response system may be predisposed to developing PTSD. MRI and PET scans show changes in the way memories are stored in the brain. It’s an environmental shock that changes your brain, and scientists do not know if it is reversible. This proves the fact something physical/biological happens in the brain of sufferers of PTSD and other mental illnesses so why is it not taken as serious as other physical illnesses?

Once someone has been exposed to trauma but the danger has gone, the body begins a process of shutting down the stress response which involves the release of a hormone known as cortisol. If your body does not generate enough cortisol to shut down the flight or stress reaction you may continue to feel the stress effects of the adrenaline. Trauma victims who develop PTSD often have higher levels of other stimulating hormones (catecholamines) under normal conditions in which the threat of trauma is not present. These same hormones kick in when they are reminded of their trauma. Physically, your body also increases the heart rate. After a month in this heightened state, with stress hormones elevated, you may develop further physical changes, such as heightened hearing. All these physical changes, one triggering another, start to exhaust you. Evidance has shown that early intervention is best to warn off the effects of PTSD.

Due to the fact there is little help out there the process ends up being down to us to help each other out. So if your reading my blog either as somene fighting demons, know someone who is or you are just interested then there is something you can do to help. We are all close to someone either related or otherwise so you can help by being alert to the behaviors in loved ones, coworkers, friends, and family. Any sudden or progressive change out of character of someone you know may be a sign something is very wrong. You may already be aware that they have been exposed to some form of trauma so you will already be a little more in the know about the reason for the change in them. No knowledge of an exposure to an incident will make it much harder for you to understand or accept the change in someone close to you. The more we can help each other the more the movie inside our head stops playing and gradually fades with time.


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