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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

walking wounded

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the term for a severe and ongoing emotional reaction to an extreme psychological trauma. The latter may involve someone's actual death or a threat to the patient's or someone else's life, serious physical injury, or threat to physical and/or psychological integrity, to a degree that usual psychological defenses are incapable of coping.

It is important to make a distinction between PTSD and Traumatic stress, which is a similar condition, but of less intensity and duration.

i am posting on trauma today to speak to an acquaintance i have made in blog-world and i hope this is anything but sad. he experienced a pretty traumatic experience a couple of months back and i am only offering this perspective in reference to some things i have noticed, which he may very well be aware of anyway. it is by no means a judgement or a bitch. it is only offered with respect, because i experienced my own share of horrifying traumas and never realized that my reactions and behaviors afterwards (for up to years btw) were connected and resultant. sometimes people think the world is against them and become combative in response, and sometimes people assume they are to blame for everything. it is not exactly the same for everyone, but it does have an effect. i think that understanding what it is firstly, and then how it works are very crucial pieces to working through trauma and ptsd. of course there is always the saying: if it don't fit, don't force it.

as for me, in case you haven't already considered it, enduring these situations and experiences can and oftentimes does lead to substance use and addiction. the memories and reliving of traumas can easily lead one down the path of self-medication. and oftentimes a person gets stuck in that mode. drug and alcohol abuse and addiction have a closely knit relationship to trauma. and a common belief (and my own personal take) is that hiv creates trauma and that many of its carriers endure these very issues. this is true from my personal experience, although hiv was not the original trauma, it was an addendum trauma, which is also very common. a trauma survivor will engage in behaviors that perpetuate additional traumas.

what i have uncovered, is this syndrome, this disorder, went unchecked in my life for years and has left a crevasse as deep as the grand canyon in its wake. i always felt that i needed to be tough and that i had to handle all the negative self perceptions i took on as a result of terror. many of these i actually still hold on to at my core. it also became almost impossible for anyone to get beyond the emotional fortress i built to protect myself. i would re-enact bits and pieces throughout the years and destroy any good things i had created in my life. my friends and family can certainly attest to this fact.

but i am sure of at least one thing in my particular case. once i understood the ramifications of what has transpired in my past, and that my feelings were more reactionary than independent, it became more possible to move towards forgiving myself and my abuser. i began to let go of the shackles that those incidents had placed on me. and this has moved me much closer to being present and being able to participate in life today. i stress the importance of a trained and licensed professional. this can and did make all the difference in the world and paved the way for a 12 step program or any other process to actually work in my life.

one thing i personally believe to be true for many gay men:
we are queer! we have lived with and through fear!(remember the 80's?) we are walking wounded! we are survivors! we are healers! we are shamans!

i love my tribe!

this is an excerpt from an article from

and then a clip of the corrs:

here is a link to find out a bit more about trauma and there are several more good ones on google as well. click here


Steve said...

Very good posting which resonates with me. Thanks for sharing. I was mugged at gunpoint a few months ago. It brought up much worse trauma issues which I thought I'd put into their proper place. The experience which happened to me as a teenager was much more violent; and I almost died. It's taken me years to get over my 'walking persecution complex' with anyone who I felt was threatening me. And unfortunately this mugging has stirred up a lot of demons. Once again, thanks for sharing.


Marc said...

Did you say "Post-Traumatic DRESS Syndrome?" Isn't that when you go to a benefit and another trophy wife is wearing the same Balenciaga? Horrors!

(And then there are those of us who use humor to treat everything. Or hide behind. I prefer the former interpretation, but plead guilty to excessive flippancy at times.) This is a helpful entry about something that needs to be more recognized in areas beyond the tradtional, i.e. military and violence aftermath. I believe that PTSD from sexual molestation explain a huge amount of problems with weight in women, for example)


You have a brilliant ability to touch people's hearts with your thoughts. I admire that.

There were worse times than the '80s--for the survivors. And there are so many behaviors devised to exist. This is a lovely, open post. A lot of wisdom here. I learned to survive by being brash and vulgar, not queenly but quite belligerent toward str8 men. After a teen experience, I had to learn that survival meant preemptive and vicious violence. The violence has gone, so has the hatred and self-loathing, Now I am who I am, because of who I ever was. It took years to make me human.

FireHorse said...

Are you aware that the photo is of an Australian soldier (known as Digger's) being assisted out of the jungle of Papua New Guinea by the local villages who beacame known by the Aussie's as the "fuzzy wuzzy angels".

The track is known as the Kokoda and it is the same trail my friend Trish will be walking in October to raise money for breast cancer research.

I like that you share your feelings with such honesty and openness. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is what I believe to be a true quality of a man.

I disagree about "lov[ing] my tribe!" I love some of them but not all of them as I am not comfortable being with people who cannot see passed their own nose's.

warrior scout said...

hey steve- i'm honestly glad you could relate to the post. my sense of you has changed since the mugging and that is one reason i posted this really. i'm not trying to be too personal, i just really want to help you find as much grounding as possible. in other words- i feel you man!

marc- ptds is a huge problem. i didn't know you were a trophy wife though?

staggo- however long it took to make you who you are today, it was worth it. you are a sweetheart and consistently so- according to all the comments and posts you have so benevolently done in kindness to and for me. you protect yourself i'm sure, but beneath that you are gold.

and denys- i had no idea the photo was of an aussie, but it doesn't surprise me. you chaps are everywhere in my life. good on ya for the breast cancer walk. i am considering training for an aids ride next year for my 50th. wanna join me?
oh and i do plan on working on that last item with you a bit. loving people who are in pain is the only kind to do.

FireHorse said...

I'm not personally doing the walk Rod. A friend from school is. She and I think eleven other woman are walking the track. The track is the original trail that was cut through the jungle during the Kokoda campaign.

I thought you were referring to all gay men.

"loving people who are in pain is the only kind to do." I'll leave that to you then.

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