Ask Ms. Vicki: Can I Ever Get Over PTSD?

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Dear Ms. Vicki,

I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and I am seeing a specialist but bringing the past back up has really caused me some serious problems. I'm having nightmares about the rape [I experienced] and I thought I saw the guy, but of course, it wasn't him.

Now, I think everyone is going to hurt me and there's nowhere I can hide. I stay in a room in my house in the basement thinking if I don't go out I will be protected, but I have to go to work and I'm very jumpy and paranoid.

When I'm at work I think that someone will come up behind me and rape me, so I'm constantly looking back while sitting in my cubicle. When my boss walks up behind me, I'm always jumping and staring at him as though he's going to hurt me.

I can't continue like this, I'm so very tired of living my life in fear that he's coming back, and I'm getting raped every night while I sleep because I'm constantly reliving this nightmare.

How do I go on like this? Since I've been in counseling the nightmares have increased and I'm hearing voices. Why would it get worse?

Sincerely,

Desperately Seeking Peace

Dear Peace,

Thank you so much for writing and for sharing. Please know that I am thinking of you and that I know what you experienced is traumatic and difficult. Moreover, what you are feeling and experiencing right now is very normal given your experience.

Keep in mind that PTSD is an anxiety disorder. This is the reason you are nervous, jumpy and even having some feelings of paranoia. Your story shows that anyone can have PTSD, not just combat veterans.

You can get better. I wish I could tell you exactly when, but I can’t. Your care should include many resources, not just therapy. Other changes may help too -- for example, if you are living alone, it may help to live with a close family member or a close friend. This may help you feel safer.

Did you report the crime to the police and was a victim’s advocate assigned to you? The advocate could also provide other resources like group support, legal resources, etc. Below, I have listed some resources that I believe will be very helpful to you.

Rape Abuse Incest National Network RAINN: 1-800-656-HOPE

Visit their website for tons of resource information that will be very helpful to you: www.rainn.org

The Department of Defense has a Safe Helpline too for victims who prefer to get help by phone. Call 877-995-5247 to speak with staff for personalized advice and support.

Make sure you are working with a clinician who is skilled at working with anxiety disorders, PTSD and trauma. The professional would also know which treatment method is best. Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing. I am hoping for the best.

Sincerely,

Ms. Vicki

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