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He's not my uncle...

**This is intended as educational information and is not a form of diagnosing or treatment. Reading below does not constitute a physician-patient relationship.


A 25-year-old man has recently graduated college, landing his first big job. The employer requires that he share office space with a 43-year-old bald man who smells of Newports and Polo Blue. Under normal circumstances, this would be no big deal. You stay on your side of the office, and I will remain on mines. Unfortunately for our young man, the nauseating smell of cigarettes and old-school cologne sends him into a panic. Multiple times during the day, sweat beads on his forehead, his heart is racing, and his hands shake. Why is it so hot in here? His chest is tightening, and he feels unable to breathe. The sound of the older man sliding his chair back and forth to adjust himself seems to be ear-piercing. Our young man feels small, minor, and trapped. WTF? Every day he runs out of his office, searching for space where he can get some peace. Cafeteria, outside, copy room, the bathroom. Who cares? He cannot sit in that office. Most days, he leaves his job feeling drained, disappointed, and overwhelmed.


At home, life seems to go on like the workday is okay until he tries to sleep. Dreams of a dark figure opening up his door and sitting in his desk chair are happening more frequently. That chair screeching causing the ear-piercing sound is annoying, mostly because he knows what happens next. We woke up in a panic, drenched in sweat and hyperventilating. Why are these images coming back?


At work the next day, he seemed to be doing better. The air freshener he purchased is doing its thing, the sun is shining, and his office mate is out sick. But tomorrow was the same. As he was sitting at his desk with his back turned, he heard, "aye, young blood, come here and take a look at this," right while the older man laid his hand on his shoulder. Our poor young guy lost his it. He was yelling, cursing, swinging, and punching the air. Knocks the older man down as he runs out of the office, down the stairs until outside. So what happened?


Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a commonly known disorder. Most people understand that soldiers returning from war suffer from it, but you may not realize your own experiences have to lead you down the path to deal with the symptoms. First, there obviously must be a "trigger." In previous years the trigger had to be first hand, but this is no longer true. Witnessing a death, or hearing the awful news of the death of someone close, abuse (sexual, emotional, and physical), financial abuse, being attacked, near-death experience, or any other "traumatic" experience. For the most part, we can handle such events; however, when our brains cannot cope, our brains cannot cope.


When your brain signifies emotions to change within you, symptoms may arise. Such symptoms as reliving of the events, flashbacks, nightmares, a heightened startle response, avoidance, numbness, physical symptoms like our guy, and other symptoms can cause a significant decline in your ability to function. Just like our young man in this story could tell you, he had PTSD. I am sure you can imagine what the trauma was and why it may be difficult for him to handle.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of men, yes, men and women who suffered sexual trauma as a child. The acts themselves making you feel dirty, used, and low. The shame of having to keep the secret because your "uncle" said no one would listen to you. Maybe you tried to inform someone, but they sent you away with your "childish game-playing" or told you "to hush, we don't talk about him." Those actions that were taken by the people you trust only perpetuate the ideas of further guilt and dismay in your heart and mind. No wonder you only go to specific family functions or leave early; no one has noticed that the exit is when he enters. Maybe you haven't had sexual trauma, but you found your oldest sister dead on the floor from an overdose when she just promised you yesterday would be her last hit. Whatever the case, if you have any of the symptoms above and more, it may be time to start healing.


Mental health treatment for PTSD is heavily centered around psychotherapy. Yes, therapy. Meaning you will have to expose, process, and work to change the negative emotions. It won't be easy. It could even be more triggering. At times the symptoms are so severe you may require medications. For what? The depression that has been lingering for years, the anxiety that is crippling, making you cry in the bathroom, the nightmares leading to ever-lasting insomnia, and the ruminating thoughts. How on Earth do you stop the thoughts over and over again? It would be best if you had a break. You need help. Call today to discuss your options. A detailed plan will be carved out for you and your abilities. We meet you where you are, then help you stride for a better you.


Possible Medication Treatment Option: Prasozin is a medication used to help alleviate nightmares. No significant side effects, but it is a known blood pressure pill. It is not effective as a blood pressure medication at the dose used to treat nightmares, but numerous research studies show its effectiveness.


Remember, you do not have to suffer alone.


---Dr. K

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