When I left my last job, I was feeling that I was burned out. When I walked from the car to the employee entrance, the closer I got to the door the lower my energy levels became and the less focused I was. I knew that if I kept up at this rate I would end up making a mistake that might harm a patient. So it was a great of regret that I tendered my resignation. When I started taking my first nursing class, I remember on my very first day what our instructor said. She made a few statements, all of which have stuck with me to this day. (1) do no harm (2) above all else, be a patient advocate because in many instances they won’t be able to speak for themselves (3) and finally, be flexible, nursing is an ever evolving discipline and that is what makes it an exciting field to work in. The exact wording may be off slightly but the message still remains clear. I tendered my resignation because I made a pledge to follow those unofficial tenets of nursing. Because I was concerned about doing no harm, I sacrificed a well paying job to do so. Not to mention I was also burned out. You might recall from my first book, one of the last things I wrote was a story about a police officer dying of COVID, well, that proved to be the final straw for me. I had just seen too many people die.
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks after I left my job and I was still having dreams about that police officer that I began to suspect that something was amiss. I had never done that before. Sure on an occasion, I would have a dream about work but never about a single patient. I also began having more and more dreams about taking care of patients and of death, in general.
I was just wrapping up my first book, so I thought that including a story about the police officer would in some way be cathartic. It helped somewhat to recount the story and to put it into writing. However, it did not take care of the problem because my dreams continued unabated. It was at this time that I began to think that I might be suffering from some form of PTSD. However, I did not give it a great deal of credence. The only reason I investigated it on the internet was to put those thoughts to rest and not to show that I was experiencing the actual symptoms.
Before I go any further with my narrative, let me first discuss the subject of PTSD a little, just in case the reader is unfamiliar with the subject. I never try to assume anything today. Everyone has different learning experiences, expertise and knowledge and no one except for God, can know everything.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
PTSD: Top 5 signs of PTSD you need to know
- A life threatening event. This includes a perceived-to-be life threatening event. …
- Internal reminders of a traumatic event. These signs of trauma typically present as nightmares or flashbacks. …
- Avoidance of external reminders. …
- Altered anxiety state. …
- Changes in mood or thinking.
What are examples of PTSD?
It can have long-term effects, including flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety. Examples of events that can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) include wars, crimes, fires, accidents, death of a loved one, or abuse of some form. Thoughts and memories recur even though the danger has passed.
What can trigger PTSD?
The most common events leading to the development of PTSD include:
- Combat exposure.
- Childhood physical abuse.
- Sexual violence.
- Physical assault.
- Being threatened with a weapon.
- An accident.
How long does PTSD last?
Some people recover within 6 months, while others have symptoms that last much longer. In some people, the condition becomes chronic. A doctor who has experience helping people with mental illnesses, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, can diagnose PTSD.
Impact of PTSD on relationships and day-to-day life
PTSD can affect a person’s ability to work, perform day-to-day activities or relate to their family and friends. A person with PTSD can often seem uninterested or distant as they try not to think or feel in order to block out painful memories.
What does mild PTSD look like?
Symptoms of uncomplicated PTSD include: avoidance of trauma reminders, nightmares, flashbacks to the event, irritability, mood changes and changes in relationships. Uncomplicated PTSD can be treated through therapy, medication or a combination of both.
How do you calm down from PTSD?
Coping With Triggers
- Deep breathing.
- Expressive writing.
- Social support.
Can PTSD be cured without treatment?
As with most mental illnesses, no cure exists for PTSD, but the symptoms can be effectively managed to restore the affected individual to normal functioning. The best hope for treating PTSD is a combination of medication and therapy.
- Sometimes things happen to people that are unusually or especially frightening, – horrible, or traumatic.
- For example:
- – a serious accident or fire
– a physical or sexual assault or abuse
– an earthquake or flood
– a war
– seeing someone be killed or seriously injured
– having a loved one die through homicide or suicide.
- Have you ever experienced this kind of event?
- If YES – please answer the questions below.In the past month, have you….
- 1. had nightmares about the event(s) or thought about the event(s) when you did not want to?
- 2. tried hard not to think about the event(s) or went out of your way to avoid situations that reminded you of the event(s)?
- 3. been constantly on guard, watchful, or easily startled?
- 4. felt numb or detached from people, activities, or your surroundings?
- 5. felt guilty or unable to stop blaming yourself or others for the event(s) or any problems the event(s) may have caused?
After answering yes to all these questions, I still was not satisfied that I in fact had PTSD. So I continued to look for a more sophisticated tool.
Screening for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
If you suspect that you might suffer from PTSD, answer the questions below, print out the results and share them with your health care professional. You can also download this form here.
To locate a specialist who treats PTSD, visit the ADAA Find a Therapist.
Are you troubled by the following?
|Yes No||You have experienced or witnessed a life-threatening event that caused intense fear, helplessness, or horror.|
Do you have intrusions about the event in at least one of the following ways?
|Yes No||Repeated, distressing memories, or dreams|
|Yes No||Acting or feeling as if the event were happening again (flashbacks or a sense of reliving it)|
|Yes No||Intense physical and/or emotional distress when you are exposed to things that remind you of the event|
Do you avoid things that remind you of the event in at least one of the following ways?
|Yes No||Avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations about it|
|Yes No||Avoiding activities and places or people who remind you of it|
Since the event, do you have negative thoughts and mood associated with the event in at least 2 of the following ways?
|Yes No||Blanking on important parts of it|
|Yes No||Negative beliefs about oneself, others and the world and about the cause or consequences of the event|
|Yes No||Feeling detached from other people|
|Yes No||Inability to feel positive emotions|
|Yes No||Persistent negative emotional state|
Are you troubled by at least two of the following?
|Yes No||Problems sleeping|
|Yes No||Irritability or outbursts of anger|
|Yes No||Reckless or self-destructive behavior|
|Yes No||Problems concentrating|
|Yes No||Feeling “on guard”|
|Yes No||An exaggerated startle response|
When I took this test I had answered YES to 12 of the 18 questions. Well, that was good enough for me and I had tested positive on two respected questionnaires for PTSD. So now what does this mean for me? First off, I am not a military vet. There are few resources out there for veterans let alone for other high risk careers. I called a few legal teams that handle PTSD cases. All of them that I called on handle cases for veterans, none of them had the vaguest idea how to pursue a PTSD case for a civilian. I finally found one legal group that handled civilian cases of PTSD and as luck would have it, they were not licensed to handle cases in Nevada. So that basically left me up a creek without a paddle. I was at the time both unemployed and uninsured. No way could I afford any type of counselling. The only treatment for me was to stay away from hospitals as long as possible, get some sleep, spend time outdoors with nature, and work on a second book. I felt that the more I dealt with the subject and the more I kept my mind occupied the better off I would be.
While I still can’t sleep, I am a little less jumpy and I startle less easily. Concentrating on my book, blog and podcast is giving me a sense of purpose. I have found a less stressful job to work at. So that took care of the income related stress issues. Over the last few years, I have been gradually gaining weight, so now I have self-image problems as well. I have decided to be proactive and attack that problem head-on by having a gastric sleeve procedure done in June. They say that there is no cure for PTSD, so all I can do is to continue on doing the best I can. I am fortunate that I have a roof over my head and love and support of a loving and caring wife. I know that I am more fortunate than a lot of other sufferers of PTSD, so, of that I am grateful. Only time will tell how successful the actions I have been taking are. I am, however, ever hopeful that my life will eventually return to some state of normalcy.
Note that the material that I referenced for PTSD was found by doing a simple Google search and is in the public domain.