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I have PTSD. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. An estimated 5 percent of Americans – more than 13 million people – have PTSD at any given time, according to PTSDalliance.org. It can be debilitating, but is treatable. Let me tell you my story.
Later, my husband told me his version of the story as it unfolded. The intruder had broken into our mudroom, grabbed a broom, and was waving it around yelling, “He’s gonna kill me!” knocking stuff off in the process, and giving my husband the impression that it was a drug deal gone bad. Come to find out, he was having hallucinations from the bath salts he had used to get high. When the guy jumped head first through the window on our door, he turned his back on my husband for a split second, and my husband’s combat instincts kicked in, and he grabbed the guy from behind and dropped to the ground to choke him out. At the hospital ER, they told my husband (in a way that didn’t violate HIPAA, but let us know clearly what the issue was) that he needed to start blood testing for blood-born diseases. The district attorney on the case later confirmed that the guy did indeed have a disease. To this day, my husband’s lab work has come back normal, thank the Almighty God.
Within the days that followed, I heard everyone else’s stories of how that night unfolded. The guy had broken into another apartment and jumped off a 2nd story balcony onto a trash can that contained broken glass. He then jumped our fence and began running around our yard, apparently being chased by the ghosts of his hallucinations. That is when he broke into our mudroom. The reason 911 had been busy was due to the fact that the whole neighborhood was calling 911. Our security company had gotten through though, and for that I am grateful.
After that night, I started having issues. I was having heart palpitations, trouble sleeping, and the sound of breaking glass terrified me. Sometimes I thought I heard it (breaking glass), but in reality, I was just imagining it. I was taking MMA at a local dojo and noticed that I was having a harder time than usual with training. Our instructor, who usually worked with me since I was the only girl in the class at that time, noticed that I was having issues with the Jiu Jitsu portions of training. I would get freaked out during the choking lessons. I went to my doctor and she was concerned with my cardiac issues so she ordered tests. She also referred me to a behavioral health center to get some counseling. My heart checked out, so she prescribed me with anxiety meds to help me with my attacks. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD from the home invasion.
It has never gone away. It’s been almost 3 years, and I still struggle with symptoms. And that’s what I have learned about PTSD.
It doesn’t just go away, and you are never “cured.” Sure, you can get better and you can learn to cope, as I have, but the anxiety is still there, the diagnosis is still there, and I still cringe at the sound of breaking glass, especially at night. When my husband isn’t home at night, I have a hard time sleeping, and check the doors to make sure they are locked, and I keep a gun loaded in the bedroom (locked up of course, but it still gives me comfort just knowing it is there, even if it is harder to access). We also now have a big, shaggy alarm system that sleeps on the couch and growls at the slightest noise. He is huge and has the meanest growl I have EVER heard. It has been a huge relief for me having our dog.
What I want for you to take from this is the fact that there are a lot of people living with PTSD from many different traumatic situations. It isn’t just soldiers that have seen combat. It can happen to anyone at anytime. It can be from a home invasion, a rape, a car wreck, a shooting, or a roadside bomb. And it is permanent. It isn’t possible to cure it. It is a condition that must be fought for the rest of your life. If you have PTSD, know that you aren’t alone. You can be helped, and you don’t have to suffer in silence. And life is still worth living. There are many different organizations and many treatment options available to help you heal. I would encourage you to reach out for help, and find that road to recovery. Go to www.ptsdalliance.org and get help. Go to your doctor and let them know you want help.