Tuesday, December 17, 2013

PTSD and the "Cure"

I know it is has been a while since I blogged, and I know I posted on Facebook that I would be posting "soon". The issue with me is #1 busy schedule #2 motivation #3 I love to sleep. I am working 34 hours a week, and I just started working on my 2nd masters degree as well. Add to that an emotional 14 year old girl that is struggling with school and  a husband with PTSD that is ALSO struggling with school and you come up with a woman who is so stretched thin that she just wants to get in her footie pajama's and crawl in bed before 9pm. Wine would help too, but I had to request a special order for it... so I wait for my Riesling escape.

Well, the point to this blog is mainly to discuss something that has been bugging me as of late. My husbands counselor has said that she thinks his PTSD is in remission. Great news, right? Well it is wrong, because she is wrong. How can PTSD go into remission? It is not a fucking disease! People may learn to control their symptoms/triggers, whatever you want to call them, they may not react as severely as they once did, but those triggers that they have never really go away. PTSD is not curable. I was stupid and naive to believe people when they told me at the beginning of this ordeal that "The good news is PTSD is not forever", the fuck it isn't. There will ALWAYS be triggers, there will ALWAYS be pain, there will ALWAYS be struggles... the difference is how it is handled pre treatment vs. post treatment.

I have done a LOT of research on this, and I have not seen one article ANYWHERE that states PTSD is curable. I did see one article that said that statement was up for debate, but generally it has been shown to not be curable. The DSM-5 (American Psychiatric Association, 2013) changed the classification of PTSD to a stress/trauma disorder rather than an anxiety disorder. And as I write this a thought just occurred to me. The DSM states that PTSD can be caused by learning about a traumatic event that happened to a close friend or family member (pg.271)... I would say that in instances like that maybe PTSD is curable, but to people who directly experienced a traumatic event that have those images from their experiences seared into their memory, it will be a lifelong struggle that most people can never understand.

The lifelong struggle is what drives so many veterans with PTSD to commit suicide, ignorant statements such as "It is curable" gives these people false hope, and when that long awaited remission or cure does not happen they feel death is the only escape. I live in fear every day that one of these days my husband might become one of those statistics of veterans that lost their fight with PTSD. When he makes remarks like "I am sorry I am such a burden" my heart sinks. I tell him he is not a burden, but he just does not believe it because HE feels like he is a burden. It is not anything we say to him, it is his own internal struggle.

I am working on my 2nd masters so that I can become a counselor; I want to become licensed and help people and their spouses deal with this horrible disorder. I cannot directly help my husband. I can be supportive of him, love him, and be there for him the best that I can, but I cannot be his therapist (Lord knows I don't want to be either). I can, however, help people in similar situations as ours and try to help guide them towards hope rather than despair. Teach them that while it is not curable it is treatable and can one day become manageable with hard work and effort. I don't want any veteran thinking that a permanent solution to any problem is ever the answer.

If you are ever thinking about suicide and feel unsafe:
Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day.
Veterans, press "1" after being connected, to be routed to the Veterans Crisis Line.
Veterans can also chat live online with a crisis counselor to get help at any time of day or night. Go to Veterans Crisis Line*.
The Veterans Crisis Line also responds to text messages. Send a text to 838255.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and 
     statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: 
     American Psychiatric Publishing.