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PTSD Trauma AS BAD AS IT GETS

BY STEVE GLENN, MS, COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY AND MSC, ADMINISTRATION

Don’t you sometimes marvel at your ability to become focused and helpful in times of extreme trauma? After the initial impact, we focused on the needs of others and only repressed the traumatic ´ä´ê´ëďĉòÄĉòê´®ÔĴ¨ĔäďĉÔďĔ“ďÔòëȊ This happened to a friend of mine. "ģ´ëëòĤȅķÄď´´ëĪ´“ąĉä“ď´ąȅÒ´ĉďÔää tears up when he recalls the moment he held an eight-year-old child in his arms while the child died. All of his senses were on high alert. He could smell the burned rubber and the blood; he could hear the cries of the victims and the responders as they took control of the scene. He could see the anguish on the faces of people who had gathered from nearby homes. He could even taste the chemicals from hoses and gas tanks. And sadly, he could feel the life going out of the little boy he had helped remove from one of the cars and whose body he now supported. The incident had been a ê“ßòąǶǵȜǺǵȘ“¨¨Ô®´ëďșȅ“ë®ďÒ´êòďÒ´ą

of the little boy died instantly. The child looked at my friend and asked, “Is my momma okay?” My friend remembers smiling through his tears and saying, “She’s going to be ķë´ȊȥnÒ´§ą“ģ´äÔďďä´ boy smiled, closed his eyes, and joined his momma. Now friends, that’s trauma. What followed was grief. Even when the trauma doesn’t happen to us personally, we can still suffer post-trauê“ďÔ¨ĉďą´ĉĉ®Ôĉòą®´ąȘbnișȊĪ®´ķëÔďÔòë PTSD is “a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it.” Many Ôë®ÔģÔ®Ĕ“äĉȚêÔäÔĪĂ´ąĉòëë´äȅķąĉď responders, and many trusted others—are dealing with one level or another of PTSD. Can people really experience so much trauma that they develop a serious disorder that can manifest itself as totally unacceptable, or even tragic, behavior? Are they a danger to themselves or to others? Are more and more people displaying PTSD? The answer to these questions is, unfortunately, yes. In my research, I have found sad-buttrue instances in which people have been hurting and have asked for help only to be told that their situations are “just part of the job” or that they will “eventually be able to handle things better as their

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time in service increases.” Some people have been referred to a “peer counselor” or even a company “shrink.” However, the peer counselors are well-meaning but inexperienced or the recommended psychologists are overbooked or not trusted. Many people simply don’t know to whom to turn. I believe there has been an increase in the number of citizens with PTSD. Let me share a couple of true cases that I have personally investigated. Although these examples involve law enforcement òĴ¨´ąĉȅÔë®ÔģÔ®Ĕ“äĉĤÒòĤòąáÔëĂąÔģ“ď´ companies and government agencies can also show the effects of PTSD. nòêȅ“ĂòäÔ¨´òĴ¨´ąßĔĉ陸¨áÄąòê his second tour in the Middle East, was driving on patrol at approximately 2 p.m. KòĉďòĴ¨´ąĉĤÔääĉĂ´ë®ďÒ´ÔąĉÒÔÄď“ëĉĤ´ąing calls from dispatch or from their EDT ȘďÒ´¨òêĂĔď´ąÔëďÒ´Ôą¨“ąșȊT뮓ĪĉĤÒ´ë òĔąòĴ¨´ąnòêÔĉëȧď§ĔĉĪ“ëĉĤ´ąÔëŨ“ääĉȅ he expands his service by performing self-initiated activity—things like checking parking lots for vehicles reported stolen or having been used in crime. TĴ¨´ąnòê®´¨Ô®´®ďò¨Ò´¨áďÒ´ doors of many of the businesses that were closed for the day in his area of responsibility. He locked his unit and began walking from door to door. At that time Tom was in a good mood, happy to be providing a service he can’t offer regularly. A mother and her seven-year-old son were walking along the sidewalk, and the little boy said, “Look Mom, a policeman.” Mother replied, “Why you don’t go shake his hand; policemen are our friends.” nÒ´òĴ¨´ąĉ“ĤďÒ´¨ÒÔ䮓ĂĂąò“¨ÒÔëÅȅ and something in his memory clicked back to the horror of war. He saw the approaching child as a Middle Eastern child with explosives strapped around ÒÔĉĤ“ÔĉďȊĉďÒ´òĴ¨´ąĤ“ď¨Ò´®ďÒąòĔÅÒ ÒÔĉê´êòąĪȘbnișȅÒ´ĉ“ĤďÒ´¨ÒÔä® ´ĩĂäò®´ȊnÒ´òĴ¨´ąą´“¨ď´®ÔëÒòąąòą and began screaming and backing away from the child. The little boy ran back to his mother understandably upset. The mother reported the incident immediate-

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San Antonio Influence  

April/ May 2017

San Antonio Influence  

April/ May 2017