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PTSD-related anxiety

liarliarliarliar Posts: 4Member Listener
edited November 25 in Mental health issues
I just bailed from a social event by citing PTSD related anxiety. It would have been so much simpler to have invented a bad back.
I have always been an anxious individual but in 1992 we were on holiday and my fiance was shot and died while I attempted CPR. At first I pretended to suffer from anorexia which enabled me to control my own narrative. That lasted for about 18 months and I recovered because I realised I didn't want to die. 
The anxiety however persists and affects my daily life. I have lost the ability to anticipate events with happy excitement, there is only greater or lesser degrees of dread. I have a lovely and very understanding husband and we live life fairly spontaneously to get around my problems. We divide life into bite-sized chunks and I always have an escape strategy, e.g. row end seats in theatres. 
On this occasion a distant relative invited us to a quite prominent event with the objective of meeting further extended family. This would involve meeting strangers, dressing up and dining out at an awards dinner. It was such I kind thought that I felt I should accept. 
Now with a week to go, I produced the aforementioned excuse and bailed, the anxiety was more than I could cope with. Shaking as badly as I do, attending could have resulted in a food fight!
Can anyone tell me whether PTSD related anxiety is a real thing or whether it's something I made up to cover my inadequacies? I don't have flashbacks or nightmares but I do carry the knowledge of what happened at the forefront of my mind all day everyday.
I told my cousin about the murder (he didn't know) in an attempt to be honest. Now I feel like a liar, a fantasist and a drama queen. You'd think I'd be over it all by now. I honestly don't know what is true and what isn't.

Replies

  • chiariedschiarieds Posts: 723Member Pioneering
    Hi @liarliar - I'm so dreadfully sorry to read about what you've suffered....some things, especially as bad as that you experienced, stay with you a long time, especially the loss of a loved one. It's very difficult to get other people to understand this, I feel, altho' your husband undoubtedly does.
    Others here know more about PTSD than I. I can only humbly say it could never be something to cover up any perceived 'inadequacies' in yourself. The trauma was so very sadly real. I hope you hear from other PTSD warriors in this very supportive community.
  • liarliarliarliar Posts: 4Member Listener
    Thank you @chiarieds, being listened to helps clarify things for me. Maybe it's not entirely relevant to dwell on the cause of the anxiety. I guess in my mind I equate it with cowardice and am looking for an excuse. It's wrong thinking and wrong to use someone else's death in this way. I am the lucky one because I got to live my life. Every time I use possible PTSD as an excuse I am losing the battle by letting what happened define me.
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,473Member - under moderation Disability Gamechanger
    Oh yes this is a real thing. If you are finding it difficult to cope, calling a MH helpline is a good idea. You can find a list of numbers on this page https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/ and here are some useful informative articles on mental health as well https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/ 
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Posts: 4,497Administrator Scope community team
    Hello @liarliar and thank you so much for reaching out and talking about this.
    What you experienced sounds horrendous and it doesn't surprise me in the slightest that you're still experiencing some kind of anxiety or traumatic response to the ordeal. You need to be kinder to yourself, but you also need to speak to someone who is qualified and able to help you with this. Have you had any mental health support at all?
    Senior Online Community Officer
    Scope
  • liarliarliarliar Posts: 4Member Listener
    Hello .@Adrian_Scope

    Thank you very much for your response. I saw a psychiatrist about month or so after the trauma, Autumn 1992. He rocked up an hour late for what was the first appointment of the day, no explanation given. I was not trying to be obstructive but I suspect I was quite defensive. He suddenly plunked his pen down on the desk and said “the question is whether you want me to help you or not” to which I replied “I think the question is whether you can help me or not” so not a great start.

    I was referred on to a community psychiatric nurse who at our first meeting got heavily into a wholly inappropriate discourse on ballistics. I didn’t go back.

    I hated the way that my life had become national news and felt that almost everyone I knew was looking at me differently and talking about me. I sometimes wonder if all anorexics feel like they’re faking it. For me it was a useful, if dangerous strategy, in two ways. Firstly as an expression of pain and grief, sort of “stare if you must, but you’ll only see what I choose to show you” and secondly, if you are so hungry that you can smell someone making a jam sandwich in the next room, the hunger is the only thing that your mind can focus on.

    I was referred to an eating disorders psychiatrist which was helpful, I saw her for about nine months but then I moved to a different area and received no further support. It took about two years, but I recovered from the pseudo anorexia, when I realised it would kill me.

    About six years ago I was referred for CBT to treat anxiety and stress. Maybe it is helpful for some people, I found it simplistic and tedious. I completed the course but nothing really changed.

    Mostly I’ve found that the key is spontaneity. I’m lucky in having a very kind husband and having been able to retire. This means we do what we want when I feel able.

    I contacted Scope because I feel terribly guilty about using my trauma as a get out of jail free card, bleeding my troubles over a kind friend and letting people down. It is something I have only done on this one occasion. I also recognise that every time you do such a thing you have lost a battle. I just need to know if I invented the notion of PTSD related anxiety or whether other people’s experiences suggest that it’s real.

    As far as future help is concerned, I’m over 60 now and don’t believe I am capable of change. I can share my experiences in writing but find speaking to people difficult and phones impossible. Thank-you for listening and apologies for posting such a long reply to what was a quite simple question!


  • chiariedschiarieds Posts: 723Member Pioneering
    Hi @liarliar - I hope you're doing OK. I'm just writing as you said, 'I just need to know if I invented the notion of PTSD related anxiety or whether other people’s experiences suggest that it’s real.' Now I understand that the last thing you would want to do is read about PTSD, but I'd just like to share with you this description from a NHS website, & I quote, 'Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events.'
    So please believe in yourself, & I'm sure you haven't let anyone down, & it's good you have a friend to talk to. You have nothing to feel guilty about; you are the one that was harmed by the past events....you did no harm. Yet it's sadly often those who are innocent that do feel that guilt.
    Please do come here & chat whenever you would like, you are part of a caring community now.
  • liarliarliarliar Posts: 4Member Listener
    Hi. @chiarieds. Thank-you for your response. I know that ptsd is an anxiety disorder but I've only ever been aware of it as resulting in flashbacks and nightmares. I suffer from generalised anxiety. I can't put my hand on my heart and say that the trauma caused the anxiety although I'm reasonably sure it didn't help!
  • chiariedschiarieds Posts: 723Member Pioneering
    Hi @liarliar - Pleased to hear from you again. Think it's likely as you say.
    I hope you've had a good weekend. Remember we're here to chat....about absolutely anything!
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