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Monday, June 9, 2014

More Reexperiencing symptoms, Day 9 of National PTSD Awareness Month

Another symptom is "intense psychological distress when exposed to external or internal cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the trauma."
If you go into a rage when some clerk down at the VA acts like a lifer/REMF/FOBbit, it can cause problems.
If you get nuts when it gets hot and muggy (Vietnam, WWII Pacific Theater vets, Iraq vets) or cold (WWII European Theater, Korea) that is an external cue.
Anniversaries apply here. Veterans find holidays hard because of what they went through on holidays and because of the knowledge that lost buddies' families will be missing them.
On top of that there are private anniversaries (which you might not even know about yourself if it was too overwhelming to remember) which can turn you numb, angry and hypervigilant. The day Joe was killed, or the last hot and heavy lift (lots of helicopters [heavy] going into a firefight [hot] to drop off troops) you were asked to fly the day before you came home from Vietnam, which still affects my nearest and dearest.
The sound of kids crying can be torture to someone who had to clear villages. Grilling meat brings up associations you'd just as soon not have.
This is part of the brain's better safe than sorry system. If you find yourself flaring up, ready for anything and you don't know why, check for progression of triggers, but also check the date. And check the attitude of whoever is with you and the type of thing that is going on. Sometimes being out with people can remind you of the insensitive things people said when you got home.
if you lost your ability trust authority figures in the war, you may find that authority figures make you feel crazy. If you were protested, protestors may upset you. If you were cheered, cheering may upset you. This is a very individual type of thing. Being thanked can hurt as much as being scapegoated if you don't think you did enough.
You may also not want to be around other veterans if someone or some group let you down.
The last symptom in the re-experiencing group is having a physiological reaction to something that reminds you of the war or whatever trauma you suffered. Many Vietnam vets respond to the sound of a Huey with a surge of adrenaline. The new vets get surges of adrenaline at the sight of trash by the road (IED) or cars coming near them among other things.
Even though this is part of the brain's better safe than sorry system, it can be very upsetting, especially if you don't know what the trigger is or think it shouldn't trigger you.
The part of the brain that is doing this can't speak English, so you can't reason with it, and it can't tell time, either, so it does not know you are home.
Tomorrow I will talk about the last diagnostic criteria, duration of symptoms...

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