The next to last symptom in the numbing and avoidance set is no longer being interested in things that used to interest you. This is another survival skill because what you are interested in is avoiding triggers at all costs.It helps to understand the progression of triggers. A second generation trigger, like the gun, beer and friends in my example yesterday, can lead to third and fourth generation triggers of things that are around when one of those triggers you. If things trigger you that seem not to make sense, try to figure out when you first felt this way...
Even without second and third generation
triggers, people who once had lots of friends may now avoid them. People
who loved hunting, now can't hunt. People who were out and around now
stay home all the time. Movie lovers don't go to movies anymore.
People who loved sex, don't want to do it anymore. (One of the truths no
one ever mentions...war ruins sex for many men for various periods of
time after). Naturally wives don't know this so they feel undesirable
and get mad. Guys don't know this so they start looking for someone more
exciting. Believe me, it is not you spouse and it will pass. I have
only talked to men vets about this, but I suspect it is true for women
combat vets, and I know being raped ruins sex for anyone.
you lose interest in outside things, you may find yourself staying home
and advising your wife on how to wash dishes. This is dangerous, guys.
Snarling often results. If you did stuff together, she may feel
abandoned when you won't participate anymore.
The last symptom in
the numbing and avoidance category is when you can't remember all or
part of the traumatic event(s). Traumatic amnesia is common. Traumatic
events often happen too fast to be laid down as a narrative memory,
which is what your fore brain does. Your are reacting with what used to
be called the reptile brain in my high school science classes. This is
protective. Some events are so overwhelming they would incapacitate you,
so evolution or God has given you this capacity. Hugh Thompson, the
helicopter pilot who tried to stop the My Lai massacre, forgot it until
the Army investigators came to interview him two years later. My husband
Bob has a picture of himself in front of a bunch of dead VC at Plei Me,
but he does not remember the event. One of my favorite vets tried to
kill himself the same day ten years apart, so his therapist decided they
should check the unit records. Turned out 28 guys in his unit died on
that day. If you find yourself doing odd things the same time every year
you may be reacting to an anniversary which leads me into the third set
of PTSD symptoms, re-experiencing, which I will start on tomorrow.
If you follow the facebook page Recovering from the War, I think you
will get these automatically. I will be posting every day this month. Or you can follow this blog. I cross post.