This is my question for the morning as I ponder a rough night last night.
Is what I went through a panic attack?
A trauma response?
Or, all of the above?
It is not my first time having these stressful episodes that make me feel like I am loosing my mind, that I can trust no one because people will hurt me, and my body – on its own – starts having somatic release.
I have an appointment with a psychiatrist tomorrow. An appointment that, in these COVID days of overwhelming the public mental and physical health care system – I am so very lucky to have secured. Typical waiting times to see a psychiatrist for a one hour session in the Nova Scotia public mental health system can take up to 5 months or even longer.
I’ve waited about four months for this appointment. It took my family doctor, my therapist and myself to advocate and actually get the ball started to get the coveted appointment.
Before I was even given an appointment to see the psychiatrist, I first had to be pre-screened by an intake worker. This involved a rigorous assessment with a social worker. I advocated for myself like a mad woman desperate for help. I listed everything I was doing to live a healthy, empowered life – but felt like I didn’t have control over my life because of the intense level of anxiety and dissociation I can experience.
Seems I passed the test, and my appointment with the psychiatrist was booked at a much earlier date than even anticipated by the social worker who screened me.
Then this serendipitous event happened where, long story short, I recently changed therapists and my new therapist knows the psychiatrist I am scheduled to see because she once worked in the same public mental health building where my psychiatrist appointment is.
I then asked my therapist how a proper diagnosis of my brain can be done in one hour by someone who has never met me before?
My therapist comforted my fears, indicating there will probably be more than one session with the doctor.
Time to Prepare
So, here I am.
I am taking today to prepare for what feels like the most important appointment I’ve had in a long time – to finally know what is wrong with my brain.
I’m going to start, for my own purposes, to write a closer look at what each issue I wonder I am having, to help me be prepared for tomorrow’s appointment.
I’ve written recently about Trauma, Flashbacks and Dissociative Disorders.
But, here I am today. With new musings and wonderings as I try to find my way…
I can identify with most of the symptoms. Last night I experienced the sweating, nausea, numbness in my hands and feet (common for me), hyperventilation. The somatic release was more intense than trembling and shaking. Thanks to my Fitbit, I know my heart rate spiked to 130bpm.
This has been a new experience for me, as these episodes started a few years ago.
A couple of these episodes have been witnessed by trained trauma therapists and have been labeled as trauma response.
I found an excellent article on what living with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder feels like when I googled symptoms of trauma response.
I read it out loud to my husband, who was able to verify that I consistently experience a majority of what the article describes.
I will list the specific sub-titles that describe what the article speaks of, of what living with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder feels like:
- Deep Fear of Trust
- Terminal Aloneness
- Emotional Regulation
- Emotional Flashbacks
- Hypervigilance About People
- Loss of Faith
- Profoundly Hurt Inner Child
- Helplessness and Toxic Shame
- Repeated Search for a Rescuer
- Persistent Sadness and Being Suicidal
- Muscle Armoring
Here is the link to the article that goes into details of each subtitle:
Complex PTSD, according to my internet search, seems to be a new and upcoming term for those who suffered trauma over many months and years verses PTSD that is a result of a singular traumatic episode.
Photo Credit – in2uract – A Therapist’s Journal
This is, feels, very different from a panic attack. It can feel like a trauma response, but is more a part of a trauma response when I feel like I am a younger age/part (dissociation) while (as I’m learning) experiencing emotional flashbacks and other symptoms of the trauma response.
I also experience dissociation on a daisy basis, without the loud volume of the trauma response taking over. This feels like I am in a dream or outside of myself – not connected to myself or I feel like a younger age has taken over and is driving the bus of my brain.
Difficult to explain.
Add to that, the lack of trust (bordering on paranoia) that is always simmering beneath the surface.
“Signs and symptoms depend on the type of dissociative disorders you have, but may include:
- Memory loss (amnesia) of certain time periods, events, people and personal information
- A sense of being detached from yourself and your emotions
- A perception of the people and things around you as distorted and unreal
- A blurred sense of identity
- Significant stress or problems in your relationships, work or other important areas of your life
- Inability to cope well with emotional or professional stress
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors”
This diagnosis is certainly one for the professionals.
I’ve been menopausal for a few years now, with recent bloodwork confirming I am post-menopausal.
Menopause is such a mystery to me, because I can’t tell when it started. I had a hysterectomy at least ten years ago. I’d say my hot flashes became noticeable in my memory about five years ago.
I blogged about it:
A recent conversation with my family doctor confirmed that menopause hot flashes/night sweats and PTSD hot flashes/sweating can appear the same.
How do I tell the difference between a menopausal hot flash and a PTSD hot flash?
How do I tell the difference between a menopausal mood swing and PTSD irritability and always on edge – hyper-vigilance?
Photo Credit – verywellhealth.com
I guess this is why there are trained professionals out there who can sort through mental health symptoms that overlap, to determine which one is the best fit.
I wonder what my diagnosis will be?
I’m looking forward to the journey…