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Old 05-14-2015, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Northwest Virginia Beach
4,677 posts, read 3,305,795 times
Reputation: 5050

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Okay I have to be to work at 5 so I'll try to be brief here...

I recently moved back into my parents' home in March (I'll be 26 next month) after creating some debt and unflattering situations for myself. I came from out of state, although I saw my parents relatively often (3-4 months) and talked to them both several times a week. My mother is 47, my father is 50, and both are retired military. My mom did a combined 22/23 years between the Coast Gaurd, Army, and Army reserves. She served a tour in Iraq in 05-06 before retiring in 2008, I believe....

The backstory is that she suffers from some form of PTSD, and has yet to receive compensation, here seven years after her retirement. She was also raped while she was in the Coast Guard, by one of her shipmates. She was raped by a cousin as a teenager, molested by a female babysitter when she was only 4 or so, in her father's home while he was passed out drunk. This is of course all proceeding the ugliness she witnessed in Iraq. She has some images saved to her laptop of dismembered body parts, and has told me she saw people die right next to her....

Her mom left her dad when she was 13, so that relationship has been fractured for years, although they speak from time to time. Her relationship with my grandma is a complex one that I don't fully understand, but they do "get along" for lack of a better phrase. She's told me she was an alcoholic at 18, but having kids forced her to quit drinking. She contemplated suicide before she had kids, and as recently as last year she told me she'd contemplated suicide during our teenage years, although she hasn't said she gets those feelings now or anytime recently...

The meat of the problem is she now gets these awful panic/anxiety attacks, and she says she's gotten them for years but hid them from us. She had a bad one today, and between me, my dad, and my brother, we don't know how to help her. She's currently in these "sessions" at the local VA for women with traumatic history, she goes every Wednesday, and she tells us that she has these moments where she sees things, or hears things, or remembers something she wishes she didn't...

My mother was the epitome of strength growing up; I never knew ANY of her past experiences until the last few years. She was solid as a rock, even after Iraq, but it seems these last few years she's breaking down. Oh yeah, she had a health scare with her uterus that turned out not to be cancerous, but she needs surgery...

My mom has always had a flair for the dramatic and exaggeration, but gauging her experiences I am ashamed to assert that she somehow exacerbates these attacks. She is still her normal bubbly self most days out the week, but a handful of times she gets really depressed and cries for hours on end. We all sat with her today....

But we are mystified on how to help her. She says she doesn't know what triggers the attacks. The VA has been slow on giving her all her benefits. She's on 13 pills for various issues. Please help me so I can help my mother. I a very worried about her. Any other info you guys need from me to help, I'll gladly provide when I get home from work.

Thank you any and all!
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Old 05-14-2015, 04:06 PM
HDL
Status: "Faith over fear" (set 8 days ago)
 
Location: Seek Jesus while He can still be found!
3,175 posts, read 6,165,272 times
Reputation: 8362
First of all, a BIG thanks to both your parents for their military service! I really wish that I knew what to say to you to help your mom, but I'm at a loss . Hopefully someone else will come along after me with helpful advice and some words of wisdom for you. In the meantime, thank you for sharing your story and my prayers go out for your family !
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Old 05-14-2015, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Mount Pleasant, SC
130 posts, read 133,439 times
Reputation: 382
Many hugs to you and what a wonderful concern you have for your mother. I saw a great drawing the other day of how to help a friend who is suffering from depression - it was a picture of the depressed person closed off under the covers, and the other friend getting under the covers with them. No words. I think it applies to so many things. You can just be with your mom. You don't have to fill the air with advice and she doesn't have to fill the air with trying to explain what is going on. She will talk if she wants to talk.

When people experience so much trauma, they push it out of their heads in order to cope. Finally addressing these issues with things like therapy, can start to bring it all back to the surface. As you emotionally get stronger, the brain sort of starts to release some of the things you were stuffing down so you can deal with them. We've all had moments of having a flashback to something that bothers us, like teasing someone in elementary school or tripping in front of the whole class. Imagine having a flashback about being raped or seeing a murder. Even just a quick scene from an angle you don't remember. The jarring nature of that is enough to turn your whole day around. And there's nothing really that you can do to stop a flashback from happening in the first place. This produces anxiety.

You mother might also try some mindfulness techniques like yoga or meditation, things that are aimed at clearing out the mind for a little while. There's an app called HeadSpace that has some guided meditation and there's also a free website called Calm. This might be a nice thing to do as a family. Even for 5 minutes a day. It can be very empowering to feel like you have more control over your thoughts.

Also, definitely lean on whoever is in charge of getting her authorized for medical care. Medication might be out there that can help.
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:34 AM
 
4,761 posts, read 11,751,139 times
Reputation: 7878
The remedy for panic attacks is simple for you to do. These are caused by "information overload" / "too much information". Or in body terms, too much sensory input to the brain. The solution is to cut off as much "sensory input" as possible. So...

Move her into a quiet dark comfortable temperature controlled bedroom - no sounds, no light, not cold/hot - comfortable temperature. And have her lay down for an hour or two and not move. No one is to talk to her or disturb her. No music/TV in house that she could hear through the door. Let her come out when she feels like it. Don't talk about what happened as that might make her think of the terrible thing which was too much to handle.

And that is the thing with PTSD, someone has gone through an experience or experiences which are "too much to handle"! We try to forget about it, but sometimes the memory "pop's up", then "sensory overload" -> the body "shuts down" with a panic attack - the body is saying "no more stimulation"!

People with PTSD can eventually get to where they can talk about it, but that is about it. So sounds good your mom can talk about some of these things. Best to not ask her about them and don't encourage her to talk about them - if she wants to talk about something, fine.

So far as the VA and benefits, your county government may have a veterans department and that is specifically there to advocate for your mom - they are on your side. Or there may be a "Veterans helping Veterans" group in your area? - Ask at the local Veterans club. They know about all these things and can hook you up with people who are on your side and will help.

As for you realizing what someone who has a panic attack is going through, imagine you are fired from your job, you come home and your husband picks a fight with you... Then the phone rings, the kids (6 of them) are running around screaming, the teenager blasts his stereo, and then someone knocks on the door! AAAAHHHHHH! LET ME OUT OF HERE!!! (Is the feeling.)
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Old 05-18-2015, 05:33 AM
 
1,110 posts, read 887,427 times
Reputation: 2290
Murksiderock,

First of all, Ditto with HDL on thanking both of your parents for serving our country.

Thank you for being a loving adult child of your Mom. I'm so sorry for what she and your family are going through. I know it's not easy on anyone. Just being there and letting her know that she can talk to you anytime she feels like it is a good start. Even if you're not a touchy feely kind of family, give her a hug and let her know how much you love her and support her. The tiniest act of kindness will mean the world to her. Do the dishes, wash her car or even just buy her a little bouquet of flowers. If you have an Aldi's around you, you can get a pretty bouquet for $5.00. Just a small gesture of love and support will boost her mood.

I was just diagnosed with it in Feb and am now finding out that I was misdiagnosed for 3 years for another event in my life. Have your Mom call your city r*pe hotline. Those people are the most compassionate and wonderful people. It's a non-profit here and I'm assuming it probably is there. I had to attend 2 workshops before the counseling was scheduled. I attended 4 and went to the PTSD one twice. My sister came with me to the workshops as support for me. They won't charge your Mom a penny. I do have insurance and they accept whatever the insurance pays. Even people without insurance can go there for free.

It disgusts me that our Vets don't get the level of care that they deserve for serving our country. That's another thread and I'll shut my mouth about my feelings on that.

Tell or show your Mom your OP. If she wants to talk to me, have her open an account and she can DM me. I can only answer any questions she may have about regarding the process of the counseling center. I've never served, so I have no idea of what she's going through with that. I can tell you that's she's in crisis and needs to get help fast before it affects her health as it did mine.

I'm assuming that I'm probably older than your Mom, maybe not though.

I admire you for being such a loving child seeking out help for her.

I can say that I'll take every tool that they offer me along with the loving guidance. I will learn and work toward becoming as close to the person that I used to be. I see the beginning of the healing just in knowing I'm being treated by people that specialize in PTSD.

I wish the best for your Mom and I think you're a great kid, even if you're an adult kid!

I wish healing for all of you.
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