PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person has been through a traumatic event, or multiple events, where the person felt his/her life or other’s lives were in danger. The hallmark symptoms include:
- Repeated “reliving” of the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity
- Avoidance of situations that remind you of the event
- Feeling numb
- Hyperarousal (feeling keyed up or on edge)
Sean had a long list of problems associated with PTSD, depression, and anxiety. While he was in medical hold he was able to hide many of his problems from me as I was not seeing him on a daily basis. We communicated mostly by phone and he would try to keep things positive and not worry me. So the changes in him were quite a surprise when he came home. The first couple weeks were wonderful as the family was in a type of
“honeymoon” phase. But soon it was apparent that Sean was struggling with many demons.
Sean does not feel safe. He sits with his back to the wall so he can see everyone around him. He scans parking lots and open areas. He has terrible road rage. Sean is highly impatient and inflexible. He cannot tolerate noise, crowds, new people and places. He is easily irritated and startled. He is angry much of the time and subject to outbursts of anger for seemingly meaningless incidents. Sean has trouble concentrating, has memory loss, cannot make decisions easily and questions his decisions repeatedly. He has trouble sleeping, sleeps excessively, has night terrors and night sweats where he wakes punching and kicking, but does not remember the nightmare. He has episodes where he stares and appears to be “checked out” where he is non responsive and is very confused when he comes back around. He repeats conversations as if they never occurred. He forgets events and conversations.
It saddens and infuriates me to know that while he was at WRAMC and in medical hold he told his case workers at least three times (and this is documented by the case workers) that he was having PTSD symptoms, and ALL THREE TIMES he was DISMISSED and told there was NOTHING wrong with his mental health! Here was a soldier asking for help, and it was refused because no one followed up with it. According to the notes, the psychologists found him to be experiencing normal stress and agitation. However, Sean says the sessions were relatively informational and were not indepth. I wonder now how many of these symptoms he is still experiencing four years later might have been lessened with early intervention.