PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship

Making sense of PTSD

Having now left an abusive relationship I found that struggles began in other areas. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) became a daily (and nightly) problem. For me this didn’t make any sense, here I was now free of any form of abuse -although I was struggling with depression. Yet I was experiencing all manner of ‘flashbacks’. Furthermore, there was no initial trigger or understanding why they were happening. The worst was waking up following a bad dream thinking she was in the room with me.

Having to admit to being a male victim of domestic abuse (especially sexual assault) was extremely difficult. Perhaps these episodes of PTSD was a way of venting this frustration against a world of whom I considered did not care – this was enforced and endorsed by the police who failed to react or support me in my claims.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship
Flashbacks hurt

My experience of PTSD

Enduring any length of abuse whether physical, emotional, sexual or psychological will leave some form of mark. Some domestic violence survivors, like myself, will suffer PTSD. Suffering these emotions does not indicate any form of weakness.  I have had to deal with my PTSD which has made me relive my ordeal through flashbacks and nightmares that have interfered with my ability to function normally on a daily basis. This has often left me tired or uninterested in doing daily activities. Further symptoms are listed below

The symptoms of PTSD can include

  • Intrusive memories of the abuse – this can come following certain songs or smells or even being in certain places at certain times. There are no strict rules to this – it can just happen anywhere at any time.
  • Loss of interest in other people and the outside world – I found that I isolated myself from friends and was happy to stay indoors.
  • Insomnia (see my post on depression and sleep)
  • Agitation – I found that I would often jump at the slightest movement by other people
  • Depression – (see my article on depression)
  • Overwhelming feelings of sadness, fear, despair, guilt or self-hatred. I questioned my self worth. If I could allow one person to do these things to me what was my true worth?
  • Physical pain that migrates throughout the body. I experienced headaches and joint pains.
  • An inability to imagine a positive future (why depression makes you feel guilty)

Following research I found that these symptoms will last for at least a month and can occur either directly after the trauma, or be delayed, beginning six months, a year or 20 years after the abuse has ended.

 Treatments

Everyone recovers at their own pace. As a minimum you should be seeking help and support from your doctor.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression PTSD Following An Abusive Relationship
Medications.

I had to move to temporary accommodation and as a result I registered with the local GP there. I must stress that from the outset they were fantastic. She took the time to listen to events and and aftershocks. I was prescribed medication for both my depression and my sleep problems (see my relationship with medication).

My work supplied and paid for counselling sessions. Initially, I was cautious about sharing my thoughts and experiences with a complete stranger but she allowed me to work at my pace.

Afterwards

I wondered if the effects of abuse would ever go away. Yes, I am still jumpy at times and I still experience thoughts following certain triggers but I recognise these now and can prepare myself for this. I have not fully recovered but I sense a certain amount of freedom from PTSD. There was a time when I stayed silent about the abuse but a part of my recovery was to share what happened either with friends or by writing it down (via this blog), medication, counselling and a slow recognition of my own self-worth.

http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/ways-to-care-for-a-loved-one-undergoing-ptsd-k0717/

Dealing With PTSD Symptoms After Leaving Abuse

Being a bloke means you can’t take medication

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Being a bloke means you can't take medication

Why don’t men take medications?

I would consider myself to be a ‘blokey bloke’ and as a result taking medication for me, was the equivalent of admitting there was a problem. My policy was not take drugs unless it was a life or death situation.

When I saw how medicine solved problems, I considered that;

  1. It was a sales ploy by the medicines manufacturers.
  2. They (the patient) should not have got themselves into that position in the first place.
  3. There must be other alternatives to medicines.
  4. The miracles of medications are often offset by side effects.
  5. Taking medication could be seen as a failure.
  6. You’re not as strong as the people around you
  7. You will be judged.
  8. There is a stigma to taking medication (especially headmeds).

But when the choice was either dealing with the discomfort or taking medicine, I would always choose the discomfort. After all, it usually sorted itself out after a while anyway.

What’s the difference between taking medications for mental conditions over physical?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Being a bloke means you can't take medication

I am aware that depression has played a major feature of my life and has, to a degree, shaped my personality. I don’t begrudge this as I am (today that is) reasonably happy with the way I’ve turned out. Of course, we all have our faults but I am happy to accept mine.

Mental Health verses Physical Health

As a paramedic, I often came across patients suffering some kind of physical trauma. It was both reasonable and morally right to administer some kind of pain relief, or a mixture of medications to maintain life. Yet, when it came to mental health it was somewhat different. This was partly due to the failures of the NHS to treat mental health on the same level as physical conditions. But it was also my male pride refusing to accept that I had a problem that could not cure itself.


My relationship with my headmeds

As you recall from my previous blog – My relationship with Sertraline. Is it ok to consider medication? . I was more than happy to welcome the idea of medication into my daily routine. After all, things were bad and I knew it. As stated, I was given a fairly low dose initially. I accept that it was possibly down to the fact to see how they agreed with me, but also to develop a build up into my system.

My dosage was increased after four weeks to double the original amount. Again, I was happy to give this a go.

Male Pride Can Be Our Downfall

I am so pleased that I did not allow my male pride to get in the way. I feel a lot better and I am aware that the medication has played a major role in this. If we consider, for example, that if I was diabetic, it would be acceptable to take insulin. This approach is sensible, correct and supported my recovery.

How do I feel now?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Being a bloke means you can't take medication

I have had the time to ponder and consider things around me. Firstly, my job was everything to me – it was my identity and it was my purpose in life. Yet, I now see that it was a means to pay the bills. My work often left me exhausted and removed me from thinking about my problems and not facing them head on. I now see that there are other ways of earning a living without the cost of my health.

Secondly, not seeing my daughter has been really difficult. However, I am aware that she is still young (2 years old) and I will be able to build a better relationship with her once this is all over. I won’t have the stress of my ex being present when I’m with her and all of the associated problems that she gave me. I am free of that relationship and I am happy to find out who I am – and I actually like me at the moment.

Listen up – hear what I am saying!!!!

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Being a bloke means you can't take medication

I want you to consider this – don’t be an idiot. Stop being a ‘blokey bloke’. Take the medications. Take the offers of help. You will start to feel better. Don’t get me wrong, I am of the firm belief that you (and I) will never be cured of depression, but it becomes manageable. It wont be a quick fix but if you want to be a ‘blokey bloke’ then you have to stick at it.

 

Dealing with daily concerns and pending court case

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Dealing with daily concerns and pending court case

Difficult day

I’ve found today fairly difficult. Of course, I’m still doing my routine of getting up and taking my pill. Then getting dressed and heading off to the gym for a couple of hours. However, the pending court case has been at the forefront of my mind today.

Good character

I know everyone keeps telling me that there is no evidence and it’s her word against mine. Yet, throughout my life I have avoided getting into trouble with the law and so standing in a court room is more than just defending myself against a false allegation. It is shaping my character and my standing.

I don’t suppose these feelings will go until after the court case yet even now I know that whatever the outcome it will change me. I’m also aware that I will probably crash and want to sleep – even if I am found not guilty.

Trying to keep myself busy may take my mind off things

There is nothing I can really do about it. I’m taking my headmeds, I’m going to the gym, I’m filling my time with things. I’m even considering changing my career and starting a fresh in something new. I suppose I just have to get on with it.

The point I’m making is that I’m sure these feelings are normal for anyone going through this. It’s just not a very nice feeling at all.

I’ve been busy keeping myself busy – a good way of feeling better?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression I've been busy keeping myself busy - a good way of feeling better?

It’s good to keep busy. Have a routine

I’ve quickly learnt that I don’t like sitting there and doing nothing. I tend to find that my mind wanders and reflects on past events and present outcomes. I’ve learnt that my personality requires me to keep busy. Having a routine makes me get up and get things done.

If You Keep Yourself Busy, You Won’t Be Depressed?

Joining the gym

Initially it was suggested to me to join a gym. It was a good idea, and as it helps my mental health I’m also hoping that it will help eradicate my belly. I’ve found that I have become somewhat competitive with myself. Over the last few weeks I’ve increased my times on each machine and raised the difficulty level. It’s kept my mind focused whilst I am there but it has also given me a sense of achievement.

I must admit that I had some initial reservations about the type of people who would be there. Would they all be “body beautiful” laughing at me with my belly and skinny pale legs. But no. There was all sorts. Some old, some young, some large and some small. It appears on observation, that there is some form of etiquette whereby you don’t talk to anyone (unless you know them and came with them) and you don’t do eye contact – which suits me. You just get on with your task and you’re left alone, which is just ideal for people like us. On reflection, I wasn’t the worst there but equally I wasn’t the best.

Benefits of joining the gym

Writing my blog

I’ve  found that this site and it’s management has become an obsession.  I’m constantly trying to improve it, add to it, check to see if it’s easy to find on Google etc… I’m equally hoping that at some point this page will find someone of whom it will help and possibly share their thoughts too. It’s almost like a Robinson Crusoe of the internet world. However, it’s been good to share my thoughts and feelings and I would recommend anyone to do it – perhaps they will be better at it than me.

Being busy has helped?

I have found that filling my day with something is an essential thing to stop negative thoughts and feelings. This does, I must stress, go hand in hand with my medication and counselling. I cannot rely on these things alone but together, they were a big step to take but a good one.

My relationship with Sertraline. Is it ok to consider medication?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My relationship with Sertraline. Is it ok to consider medication?

Why don’t men like taking pills?

I must admit I’ve never really been a big fan of pills. My arm would need to be hanging off before I would even consider taking a paracetamol. It’s not that I was being macho or anything. It’s just that I either not be bothered or thought they might not work. I want you to consider that there are benefits to taking medication. In my case Sertraline.

Considering what I had been through and what I was experiencing I felt that I really needed some sort of support. After all, I had opened up to the idea of seeking counselling (which as a new experience) and so some form of “headmed” may be beneficial.

I sought treatment almost instantly following my release from the police back in May. My doctor initially gave me a low dose – just to see how I got on with them. I must admit it took a while to see any sort of improvement. There are other forms of “head meds” available but it really is a case of trial and error to get the balance between any benefit and side effects. To date, they seem to be ok but, like I said, I had been given a low initial dosage.

Increased dosage

When I visited my GP last night as a follow up and to see how I was getting on, I wasn’t surprised when she suggested upping the dose. I must admit that I was equally grateful to continue with the medications at a high dose.

It is so difficult to consider how I would have been without them. But it’s not a problem to see them as  form of mental crutch. My view is that if I had broken a bone it would have been treated in a standard, recognised way. Ok, my head is broken, but I don’t see it as a problem to have medication to help me through this. After all, it was pride that had stopped me from getting things sorted in the first place.

Why do many people have moral objections towards taking antidepressants?

How mood can change so quickly. It’s ok to say “I’m not ok” and be unwell.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How mood can change so quickly. It's ok to say "I'm not ok" and be unwell.

Things can change so quickly

It’s amazing how things can change so quickly. One day I’m a family man and the next I’m an enemy of the state and a not fit or anything. Equally so things can change within a few hours.

The day started well

I woke this morning knowing I was seeing my councillor at 10. Recently, I was pleased with my progress and equally keen to share my positive thoughts with her. As always, I arrived early and we discussed my feelings and how I was coping with daily experiences. I was proud of how I had changed over the last few days and started to feel ownership of myself and my thoughts for the first time in ages.

It’s ok not to be ok

I had planned to go to the gym afterwards but here is where it all changed. I left my councillor and sat in the car exhausted by talking and discussing. Perhaps I was not as advanced as I initially thought I was but I was ok with this. I still know it will be a long process.

Guilty until proven innocent. Unless being abused is a crime

I opted to drive to a coffee shop and pull myself together a little bit more. Whilst drinking coffee I contacted my daughter’s mother asking if I could arrange a video call with my daughter. She replied after a while stating that she had social services coming around tomorrow and she would discuss it with them then. My god, even hardened murderers seen their children, yet here I am, innocent of any crime (other that staying in an abusive relationship longer than I should have). This continual blocking cut deep and further enforced my anger at the injustice and heavy handedness of it all. If there is a domestic accusation you are indeed considered guilty until proven innocent. I will also point out that I have still not had any formal notification from social services about their actions.

Recovery takes time

Well I returned to my friend’s house and retired to the bed. It is a place of safety for me. There is nothing wrong with this but I was also aware that my recovery is taking longer than I initially gave me credit for.

Depression. Why are men so bad at admitting that they have it?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Depression. Why are men so bad at admitting that they have it?

What is the difference between depression and feeling down?

There is a clear difference between depression and feeling down. To put it simply depression is physically painful and swallows you whole. But men are so bad at admitting that they have depression

I was never really one to share my feelings or emotions with anyone and this became a problem within itself. I found it difficult to share what was going on and even more difficult to admit that I felt a failure and was a victim of my female partner. It was often found that I was justifying her actions and felt that in some way I deserved what I got. I was made to feel grateful that she was questioning everything I did or challenging my thoughts and feelings.

Understanding depression – website

How did it feel to see no way out?

During my relationship with my ex I felt as if I had a bag over my head. I could not see where I was going or what was happening and I just could not breath.

Following my encounter with the police I quickly learnt that everything I believed to be true, was clear nonsense. As previously stated, I was always led to believe that the police were there to protect us from harm. Yet when I needed their help the were far from helpful. As a result my long lack of trust was further cemented. I hated the world I was living in and hated what I knew to be true. Life became physically painful and it was a real effort to do the simplest of things like getting up or eating.

You can understand when people say that living is more painful than dying.

Bad habits become a way of life

It took a while to realise that the cause of my problems were no longer present in my life. Yet, I still had the habits of feeling that I needed to tell someone where I was or what I was doing. I had fear of going home, not knowing what to expect as I walked through the door and being verbally and emotionally abused. It also took a while to realise that her allegation of assault (spitting) had no foundation or evidence and was based on sheer spite as she found out I intended to leave her.

It has changed me

Of course, the recent events have and will change my perception of the world around me. I’ve considered a new career. I’m tempted to just disappear and starting again somewhere else. I’ve considered so much but why should I run when I’m the victim? Yet, I’ve been suspended from work, I can’t see my daughter and I’ve lost my home. Would this have happened if I had been female? I very much doubt it and the proof is in the status quo of my ex.

I still don’t think I’m anywhere near full recovery and I expect to find myself falling again once all of this is over. But I’m more prepared for it this time.

Rethinking depression – website