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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About mitsanuk

I left the RAF in 2015 following 20 years as a frontline paramedic. It has been an amazing career but then found myself suffering because of this. My blog exists as an outlet for me as well as a place for others to read and try to understand the mind of someone with PTSD. Please feel free to make comment on any post and lets raise some discussions on how we can help to end the stigma which surrounds mental illness. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please follow and share in the hope my experience will help others.
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14 Responses to An embarrassing side effect…

  1. Sarah says:

    Hi Michelle, I was in the RAF for 10 years although I havent lived through the same trauma you have on the front line, ive experienced other kinds. I stupidly let it take over my life and left the RAF which I shouldnt have done. Although im 4 years down the road from my deamons and am a different person and have different life which is working. I.E i get dressed, can see a future and feel relatively ‘normal/happy’. Your blog touches my heart, thank you for sharing your most intimate thoughts. It is a very brave thing you are doing. I have a small boy who wets the bed sometimes muliply times a night. I have learnt to use Terry Towling mattress protecters as they dont rustle when he moves. Also keep the sweat down. Also ive learnt to double up so if he wets the bed at 3am i just whisk the top 2 layers off and there is a top sheet and other protecter underneath. If you hadnt already thought of this then it may be if help to you. It took far wiser mummies to fill me in on the tip, which i wish i had known a year ago. Good luck brave one!

    Like

    • mitsanuk says:

      Hello Sarah, thank you so much for your message, it means a lot to have your support. I am sorry you have your own demons to tackle but at least we are not as isolated as we think we are eh. I wish you a well & blessed life.

      Thank you again xx

      Like

  2. Mary Jane says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Thank you for sharing your story with people, to all know they are not alone.
    Please also know you are not alone to manage your PTSD either.
    There are some ways to overcome these memories, which are proving to work very effectively and have been used with American Military Personnel with great results so far too.

    The technique being used is EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques (also known as tapping) and it’s results have been amazing.

    I’m very touched by your story, especially because a family member also has experienced PTSD, which has affected their life greatly. Also, in the last week or so, I saw a news piece run by the BBC, which talked about a soldier in the UK, who had PTSD and they reported that nothing can be done for him. I was so saddened by this, because there are ways…and they have been around for over 20 years now to help those, like yourself, who have suffered with PTSD.

    So I share this information to you with love and hope that as many people as possible will see this information and find a practitioner who can help them. I also share this information, because I am an EFT practitioner, who has seen first hand the profound positive impact this technique has had on my own life, as well as with clients…and it is my wish that others experience this too, for whatever it is they are challenged by. I am not personally experienced to work with Military Personnel however. Though I am happy to guide people in the direction of trusted EFT colleagues, who are well versed in working with this client group.

    Also, the link which I share below is by Gary Craig, the founder of this technique…so the information comes direct from those who know it the best…rather than it being filtered down.
    Here is a link to see what has been done at the Veterans Administration in the USA…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3JnxLWe5RI

    Should you require more information and some leads for who to contact in the UK to make a start on how to find help from certified practitioners, who are experienced with military personnel, please do get in touch with me, where I would be delighted to share what I know.

    With love & blessings to you all
    Mary Jane

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  3. anne says:

    the trauma and pain you have experienced makes me cry, your honesty and openess is uplifting Michelle. I wish you peace,joy and happiness to come xx

    Like

  4. David Harvey says:

    hi Michelle, thanks for sharing your truly harrowing experiences I know from experience that this is such a difficult thing to do as doing so tends to shake up the bag of demons inside. However one has to recognise they have a problem in order to seek professional help. As you know PTSD will not cure itself, it won’t just disappear. As your blog quite rightly says, PTSD isn’t unique to the military personnel but to the whole spectrum of human kind. I was a firefighter for almost 24 years and not much would ever faze me until I was searching for casualties upstairs in a house fire of a hoarder when the ground floor burnt from under me. I managed to self rescue as my colleague had managed to bail out with my help just before the floor broke. I got away with minor injuries but rather than shrugging this one off and going back for another attempt, I truly believed I wasn’t getting out alive that time. Being stuck in a hole in the floor with superheated flames licking up around me being in intense pain did it for me. After I bailed out believing that I was completely on fire and I had abandoned a woman and child to die until about 15-20 minutes after when the supposedly trapped woman came up the road and the child’s screams we could hear was a rabbit. Within a week the fire service had picked up something wasn’t right with me and set the ball rolling to get me treatment which came in the form of EMDR which is now used on many combat personnel with great success. PTSD is something not readily recognised within the fire service throughout the UK as yet although I was lucky enough to have a couple of switched on officers on my side. That was over two years ago, I’ve finalised my treatment but I still do have the odd Bad day with symptoms bubbling back up to the surface but on the whole I am far better now for the treatment supported by medication as the two go hand in hand. One day I’ll wake with out ever suffering any symptoms again. My positive disposition tells me I will…. One day

    Like

    • mitsanuk says:

      Hi David,

      Thank you so much for sharing your personal journey. It saddens me that so many people can relate to my own journey. It pleases me however that you had people looking out for you.

      Your right, PTSD will never go away but we can desensitise from it a little. If we all keep talking about this we can really help wach other out. That is my intention and godwilling it will help others as well as myself.

      Take cate David and thanks again xx

      Like

      • David Harvey says:

        Michelle may I please take this opportunity to say if anyone whether or not they’re in the emergency services wants to get in contact with me regarding PTSD please feel free to pass on my email address. Let’s be there for each other and encourage others to walk out of the darkness into the caring arms of people like us

        Liked by 1 person

      • mitsanuk says:

        Absolutely!! Thank you for supporting this. I think its so very important. Link with me on Facebook so we can chat further x

        Like

  5. john creed says:

    Hey Michelle, long time no speak. I like your posts and your courage for putting all of this out there. I have suffered with depression etc for quite a few years now for a number of reasons. Although I have been Discharged from mental healthcare I am still struggling. Probably wasn’t too honest about how I felt on my final reveiw with the psych nurse! Its at the point now where it seriously affecting my life. I hope you get better and continue to spread your words.

    John creed

    Like

    • mitsanuk says:

      Hi John,

      Great to hear from you but sorry you to are struggling. I know it’s up to you but perhaps you need to revisit some help. That way your life can be a little more balanced as you get the help you need. It doesn’t have to be career changing for you either hun. I’m happy to chat to you anytime for sure, on here or look me up on Facebook.

      Take care buddy and thanks for your kind words xx

      Like

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