Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- Never Give Up!
It was April 19th 1993 and it was a wet night and I was on my way home from work, at the time I was a Welfare Rights Officer. I loved my job helping people get the benefits they were entitled to. It had been another late night at the office as I prepared for a Tribunal and I was glad to be on the way home. In Belfast were I lived we had a local Black taxi service that served both sides of our polarized community, one service for Catholic areas and one for the Protestant areas.That’s just how it was in Northern Ireland.
I got into the front seat of the taxi beside the driver and in the back was a woman with her son. We approached the end of the street and as we hit the junction, a masked man approached my side of the taxi and opened fire shattering the window of my door the second bullet struck me in the side of the chest knocking me upside down and I landed head first on the floor and my legs dangling in the air, the gunman put the gun in the window and fired 2 more times somehow missing me from around 2 feet away. In the ensuing madness the driver somehow managed to get the taxi going again and he headed straight into the police station just up the road.I knew I was hit as I felt a burning sensation in the side of my chest but didn’t know if I was seriously hurt. The next bit is a blur to me I just remember the ambulance man cutting my jumper and saying to me it’s OK I can see the bullet I will get it out I was clearly going into shock at this point as next thing I remember I was in the ambulance with an oxygen mask on and being told it’s OK we got the bullet you will be fine. I was taken to the hospital and cleaned up and stitched up and released the next day. I had been very lucky, the bullet had lodged on my rib cage and the ambulance man had manged to get it out before it fell in. In the next 9 months there was 2 further attempts on my life but I survived those without injury. I had been picked because of my religion but so were so many others throughout the troubles in Northern Ireland but I had survived, little did I know that I was now to endure the biggest fight of my life and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was waiting in the wings for me and that has changed me and had an effect of those around me in ways I never thought imaginable.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? PTSD
The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life.
In most cases, the symptoms develop during the first month after a traumatic event.
But in a minority of cases, there may be a delay of months or even years before symptoms start to appear.
Some people with PTSD experience long periods when their symptoms are
less noticeable, followed by periods were they get worse. Other people
have constant, severe symptoms.
The specific symptoms of PTSD can vary widely between individuals, but generally fall into the categories described below.
Re-experiencing is the most typical symptom of PTSD.
This is when a person involuntarily and vividly relives the traumatic event in the form of:
- repetitive and distressing images or sensations
- physical sensations, such as pain, sweating, feeling sick or trembling
Some people have constant negative thoughts about their experience,
repeatedly asking themselves questions that prevent them coming to terms
with the event.
For example, they may wonder why the event happened to them and if
they could have done anything to stop it, which can lead to feelings of
guilt or shame.
I also experienced severe emotional problems along with Hyper Arousal or vigilance which means I am always on edge but it is what it did to me as a person was the most destructive.
A lot of what happened in the ensuing years was a bit of a blur to me as I got lost in a destructive pattern of behavior involving Compulsive Gambling, Drinking and heavy medication. My behavior became more destructive as time went by and my relationships with my partner and family broke down beyond repair. I knew that my behavior wasn’t right but I didn’t seem to have the ability to stop or care enough to stop. I was in work and out of work for years, I ended up homeless several times and lost any sense of self-worth. I was in rehab multiple times and got periods of general normality but it never lasted.I asked myself many many times how can someone as intelligent as you are not cope with being a “normal” person? Simple answer is that PTSD controlled my actions but even to this day 25 years after the event I twitch and shake on a daily basis I find it difficult to interact with people, something which hurts me the most as Through my work I had to interact a lot, my second job when I was younger was that of being a Disc -Jockey so I was a shy guy in any way.PTSD had robbed me of many things and had taken me down roads I never though I would travel. I’m 55 now and somehow still alive so I have decided to give this life thing another go, there may be a lot of things I will struggle to do but I must overcome the thoughts of fear and anxiety that have controlled me for so long.
If you are someone who is reading this and have suffered similar experiences I would love to hear from you as living with this illness is a lonely journey at times so feel free to contact me at email@example.com I will be delighted to hear from you
Now and the Future
Lately I took a big step forward and joined Wealthy Affiliate an online business academy and so far it is going well I now have my own website affiliatesprosper.com which I am very proud of as one of my major issues with my illness is that I always seem to quit as I find it very hard to stay focused. I am trying to overcome that and I have a lot of support within the WA community.
I know I have many struggles still ahead and just writing this article feels like a big step forward for me. I will not give in to this hidden disease and each day that I can keep moving forward is another battle won in a war were there seems no chance of peace but hopefully I can negotiate a truce with my PTSD and hopefully I can make a success of my online business at Wealthy Affiliate