This is the third part of the “So What Exactly Is PTSD and Who Does it Affect?” portion (read the first part and the second) in Athena Dean Holtz’s series on Dealing with PTSD from a survivor’s perspective. Catch her introduction to the series here.
STRESS TEST RESULTS
Take the stress test if you haven’t already. Count up all your “yes” answers and give yourself five points for each one.
If you scored 0 – 45 points: Chances are you are not a sufferer of post-traumatic stress. You either have already allowed the Lord to heal your stressful past, or you have not been subjected to situations that are outside the range of normal human experiences.
If you scored 50 – 95 points: It is likely that you have expereinced stressors (past trauma or abuse). Many people are in this category simply because it is difficult to go through life and not experience anything that causes suffering from stress. Scoring in this category would mean that you are a mild PTS casualty and could probably benefit from a Christian support group.
If you scored 100 – 200 points: Without giving you a clinical diagnosis, according to your score you have moderate to severe post-traumatic reactions to your life and environment. We would highly suggest that you:
- Seek one-on-one Christian counseling,
- Graduate on to a Christian support group environment.
Now that you’ve got an idea of how you’re doing with regards to PTSD, let’s take a look at how the mind and emotions are affected by stress.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
HOW STRESS AND TRAUMA AFFECT THE MIND AND EMOTIONS
God designed our mind in an amazing and intricate way. In His word our heart is equal to our mind, will and emotions. Our mind is like a filing cabinet, and all that is stored there are things that we have experienced. You may not remember the experience, but the memory is still filed away. Emotions are feelings that come from our past, or all our combined experiences.
So, how does the mind work? Well, our conscience mind analyzes normal everyday experiences without any problem at all. You walk outside and it’s sunny, your car is parked in front of your house, and you’re going to unlock the car with your remote, walk over to it, get in and drive away.
Your ability to analyze can break down during severe stress or trauma, but the interesting thing is that this ability to analyze can break down at the thought of the trauma. The actual trauma doesn’t ahve to be happening now.
SOMETHING TODAY FORCES YOU TO RELIVE THE PAST
Since all that is recorded during traumatic incident is filed away in the subconscious mind, smells, sounds, and sights in the current environment that are similar to the smells, sounds, and sights during the trauma may trigger that memory hidden away in the filing cabinet you call your mind.
You walk outside and it’s sunny. A car speeds down the street with the windows open and music blaring. You start feeling your palms get clammy, your hands start shaking and your heart races. You feel a headache coming on and generally feel agitated and angry.
What is happening is that the behavior becomes reacxtionary. Pain is actually experienced now, even though there is no rational reason for it. Most times you’re unable to put your finger on why you feel the way you do and will typically look for something to connect the dots. “I didn’t sleep well last night” or maybe “I must be coming down with that bug everyone else has.”
In this particular incident, the song that was blaring out of the car speeding by was the same song playing in the background when you were accosted as a young woman and brutally raped. You’ve stuffed that memory as far away as possible, because the shame and pain is unbearable. But it’s still there, just waiting for an opportunity to come alive and create unwanted emotions and stress.
BEFORE WE START DISCUSSING ADRENALIN AND TRIGGERS I WANT TO GO OVER SOME MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PTSD. THAT’S WHAT OUR NEXT POST WILL COVER, AND THEN WE WILL ADDRESS HOW OUR BODY RESPONDS AND, MOVING ON FROM THERE, WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT SO WE DON’T CONTINUE BEING A VICTIM OF SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED DECADES AGO.
Stay with me … really. I want to help you or someone you know.