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Lunar Offline
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Not really sure where I'm going now. - March 14th 2020, 01:31 AM

The past two years I was working with a therapist who convinced me I had panic disorder. I've had panic attacks for as long as I can remember. Lately I had to switch therapists offices due to an insurance change, and the new therapist believes I have PTSD with panic disorder with agoraphobia on top. I'm struggling with this. I've never really heard of PTSD unless it was associated with the military. Having a hard time believing I could have it, and having a hard time processing the fact that I do actually have a lot of the symptoms my therapist told me to 'look in to'.

Not sure why I'm taking this so hard, but I mentioned it to my partner and he kinda laughed it off, like 'there's no way you could have it' which also made my heart sink a little. I mean if he doesn't believe it, why should I? But also, it goes both ways. If I do have it, then does that mean he doesn't believe it, or me? Not sure how to process that either. Just unsure as to where to go from here. I thought we had figured out what was happening, and I was doing so well working towards the goals we set for me, but now that this is happening, I'm wondering where I stand now, what my goals should be, or where I even go from here. Any advice for me? Anything I should read/watch/learn? Thanks in advance for any advice. Really struggling here.
   
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Re: Not really sure where I'm going now. - March 14th 2020, 11:25 PM

I don't know much of your personal life, but PTSD occurs outside of the military on an exceedingly high number of occasions, often through a traumatic experience. Such experiences can cause all kinds of problems such as sleep disruption, anxiety, and much more. The military just happens to be one of the more 'common' areas of PTSD diagnosis, but it certainly isn't its limitation. For example, a friend of mine was diagnosed with PTSD due to the abuse he suffered growing up and has never served in the military. Also, you'll find a lot of members of this forum will open up and share the fact they too have PTSD, but have never served before.

I feel like your partner laughed off your diagnosis similarly to my mother when I was diagnosed with dyslexia. She claimed it was just 'word blindness' and how my high chance of having ADHD is actually because I 'have an overactive mind'. On one hand, I could say that if my mum disbelieves my diagnosis, then why should I? But to be frank, she's my mother, not a professional, and she's also someone on a family level, she's going to want what's best for me because she's known me her whole life and doesn't see my diagnosis as a 'problem', for lack of a better word. Similarly so to your partner, who sees you for you, and doesn't see that your diagnosis is the outcome of a traumatic event, or a series of them.

On a positive note, I think it's good that he doesn't see what you have as an issue and sees you as you are, but I do feel that both he and you should remember that your diagnosis was something that came from a trained professional, of which neither of you are.


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Re: Not really sure where I'm going now. - March 15th 2020, 10:06 PM

Hey there,

I'm wondering why you are having a hard time believing that you could have PTSD? As Sarah explained, though PTSD is often associated with the military, it can be caused by a variety of different things- natural disasters, car crashes, violence/assault, childhood abuse/neglect, abusive relationships etc. In fact, witnessing a trauma such as those listed, even if you aren't directly experiencing it, can still cause PTSD. While these are all different causes, they will often share the same trauma response- re-experiencing the trauma in forms such as flashbacks and dreams, or avoidance of the trauma, being hypervigilant, having difficulties with relationships etc.

It's good that you've done some research into the symptoms of PTSD, though I understand it can be a lot to take in. It can be easy to minimise what we've experienced and think that others might have had it worse, but that doesn't dispute the fact that we may have experienced trauma and may now be experiencing PTSD.

I'm wondering if your therapist can diagnose, or refer you to someone who can? How would you feel about that? Would it make it more believable if you had a potential diagnosis confirmed?

I'm sorry your partner laughed it off. It is still, unfortunately, a commonly held belief that PTSD is only experience by those in the military and it can be difficult for others to imagine that other traumas can cause PTSD- especially if we are able to 'function' somewhat. It may be that your partner doesn't know much about PTSD or the causes and that may explain his reaction. But your therapist does know about PTSD, and you know what you've been through and how you can see the symptoms in yourself. I do agree with Sarah that those close to us may struggle to see us as anything beyond just 'us' which can be helpful when we don't want to be 'defined' by our diagnosis, but at the same time, can be a hinderance if we aren't taken seriously.

It might help to educate your partner on PTSD and how it affects you. Definitely worth talking to your therapist about how to engage with your partner and how you are struggling to come to terms with the potential PTSD.

I've been in a similar position. I've experienced sexual abuse when I was younger and was also bullied at school. I've seen two therapists and one other mental health professional and they all asked about flashbacks, and one therapist suggested PTSD. But I found it difficult to believe them, because I didn't think what I went through was 'that bad' and didn't experience symptoms all the time. Members of my family also thought that PTSD was only something you could get from being in the military. And at the same time, Asperger's/Autism is also in my family and I suspect I might have it, though I don't have a diagnosis. It's a weird position to be in and just because I suspect I might be autistic, I don't want to disregard previous therapists thoughts of PTSD either. So I acknowledge that I have been through trauma, and that I do find it helpful to get support based on that, regardless of whether I actually have PTSD or not.


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Re: Not really sure where I'm going now. - March 17th 2020, 01:17 AM

Thanks. I guess I'm just put off from it because it seems like such a heavy thing to be diagnosed with. I was abused as a kid, and my therapist says it's the way I was raised that is the cause for my disbelief. I mean, logically it makes sense, but there's just something about it that doesn't seem right to me. I don't know. Just feeling lost and discouraged about the whole thing. I finally had been diagnosed with something that made sense to me, and now things are getting changed up and I guess I don't handle change as well as I thought I did.
   
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