A look back at the PTSD post.

In casual conversation today, I referred to the post on PTSD and divorce, which made me take a look back and read through the comments from that day.  Ironically it has been two years since that post was published and today it continues to be the most clicked on this site!

So I thought we should take another look at what started that historical ( in my blog life) day long conversation.  Click to view the original post.  Then take some time to read through the comment thread.  Comments are posted most recent on top so you will have to scroll down to start at the beginning.

On October 24, 2013 at 12:15 am (Eastern Standard Time) Rebecca left the comment that would spark an all day conversation.  I am always very excited to wake up and see a new comment, when I read it though, I wasn’t so happy.  I felt like it was the beginning of an attack on what my purpose of the blog was.  I reptsd1responded quickly at first but then as the day went on and the comments were pouring in from my readers, I decided just to sit back and read what was happening, then process it all later that night.  At which point I would do my research and formulate a brilliant reply, and I think I did just that.

On October 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm (Eastern Standard Time) I politely and gratefully responded to Rebecca and having had done my homework, I felt empowered, smart, witty, and most of all determined to stand up for what I believed was something worth fighting for.

I would love to get another conversation going, as this topic is one that is very close to my heart and I know there are many others out there who could use our help.  Feel free to post comments on this post or the original and know that sharing even just a piece of your story, may help even just one person.  I look forward to the conversation.


Courageous Butterfly


Below you will find Rebecca’s first comment and my last.  Take a peak and take time to read the comments in-between on the Does PTSD after divorce exist page.

The reason more doctors and therapists don’t diagnose divorced folks with PTSD is simple… get a DSM and read the diagnostic criteria. Unless there was physical violence and events involving threatened or actual death, or physical injury, what you all are describing does not meet the criteria. In my 20+ years of practice I can fortunately say I can recall just two women who did meet the criteria due to abuse in the marriage.

Should we psychologists just throw our diagnoses without cause? Would you want your dermatologist to diagnose you with skin cancer when what you have is a 2nd degree burn? There are ethical guidelines to diagnosing conditions.

What you all are describing would certainly meet the criteria for Adjustment Disorder, and surely, I have seen patients who have a depressive disorder or anxiety disorder concurrent. Rarely, I can justify using the diagnosis Acute Stress Disorder, and perhaps you would meet the criteria for this. Please have respect for those who do suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, because reading your post and comments here, honestly, it’s insulting, and it’s as as if you would choose to claim you had skin cancer when what you have is a 2nd degree burn. Trust me, ladies, I agree that you have suffered, but I would not wish PTSD upon anyone.

BTW, Rebuilding is an excellent book/workbook!

Hi Rebecca, no worries I am not one who deletes unless it is true spam! My soul purpose for my blog is to put information out there for who ever may be needing it and for any reason. I am grateful for your comments on this post because you have sited several valuable resources that can help my readers and anyone else that happens along the site.

I will not argue that you are correct in the new criteria on the DSM 5, it is clearly stated that in order for one to be diagnosed with PTSD they must meet the specific criteria. I did a little research today and it looks like that change was very recent, possibly this year. I would like to site some references myself that I found, one is from the National Institute of Mental Health.


Under the “Who is at risk?” section of the article it states “Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events. Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event.”

What does this mean to me? Well I do not hold a license in counseling or in divorce but what stood out to me is, “abuse” it does not specify physical or emotional it’s just abuse; as well as the part that reads many other serious events, again not specific to physical abuse or the fear of death. I’m not an expert and I don’t argue that if a health professional needs to code PTSD, it must follow the criteria you mentioned. However, I do believe that someone can exhibit all the signs and symptoms of PTSD, no matter how traumatic their event.

You mentioned the ladies in your group and how they were sad for me, and the other survivors that have posted on my site. You stated that one said “If they want PTSD so bad, they can trade lives with me in a heart beat.” I’m going to get very honest with you and tell you that my blog posts are just a snippet into my story, and I’m going to guess that those that have commented on my posts may not be sharing every detail of their experience either. In which case they would not need to trade lives with your group, because they are living their own version.

I only know what is being shared. It is quite possible that one if not all of these people commenting did have a gun pointed to their head, or were beaten or sexually assaulted, and if that is true then they would be medically diagnosed with PTSD. I was surprised that you would leave your comment when you don’t know all the facts. If you could just reflect on the fact that people usually don’t share everything on an online forum, or they can’t. I for instance, leave out certain details in order to protect loved ones. Wagering a guess other’s have done the same. So, maybe the people on this blog and all the many other blogs in the world are the same as the people in your DV group, and should not be made to feel like they are any less than anybody else.

When I originally wrote this post it was not to drown myself in my sorrows or tell the world that I am a victim of PTSD, it was the sole purpose of reaching out to even just one person who was feeling the same thing I was and to let them know that they are not alone, they are not going crazy, and that the symptoms they are experiencing may be true symptoms of PTSD.

NIMH lists signs and symptoms of PTSD and I have experienced every single one because of what I went through. The level of my abuse may not even compare to what other’s have suffered but the point of my blog is not to say “Hey I have it worse than you”, it is to say “hey you are not alone”.

I will brag and say that I have been able to help several people who have found my blog and in turn Several have helped me!! That means I have accomplished my goal, which was the reason for my blog. Rebecca, you have added to that with your resources and again I thank you. I also thank you for the work you are doing in helping survivors move on.

Many Many Blessings to you,


Courageous Butterfly

Calm, Cool, and Almost Collected

calmSince my last post dealt with realizing the amount of physical pain that can come along with stress,  I had better follow-up with talking about the stillness that can come following acceptance.

It was not easy for me to grab onto the diagnosis of stress induced nerve damage, it’s not something that is frequently talked about and I had never really heard of it before.  I figured I had two options, shut up and deal with it or argue.  Since I have been searching for three years for the cause of my symptoms I decided I will just shut up and deal, starting with some positive life changes.

I sat down to make a list of things that I thought would help to alleviate some of the stress, but these had to be things that I could actually control.  Of course I would love to say, erase all debt and make me pain free…There! done! stress gone.   That list is the pretend list cause those things are out of my control.  Yes I can work on my lowering my debt but erasing it all is a complete fantasy.  I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with a long list of things to start with so I wrote just a couple and within a weeks time I have been able to make those changes.  The first was to get extra rest.  I decided to make a cut off time every night where I would sit down, decompress and relax.  I would do this with enough time before I actually went up to bed so that once I was ready to sleep, the thoughts of my day would be done and my mind would be able to rest.  I ended up sleeping 12 hours two nights in a row!  I changed my schedule only slightly, doing some of my weekend morning things in the evening, so that if my body wanted to sleep in I would not be missing anything I needed to do.

The second item was to work on changing my thoughts when they drifted to a place that would cause me anxiety.  This meant any anxious thought that popped into my head at any time.  I knew this would be more difficult than the first item would be and would take more effort on my part.  With comments from my counselor we agreed that when these moments came I needed to first take a deep breath to settle myself, then figure out what caused the thoughts.  What was I doing in that moment that prompted it?  Once I have that information, decide is this something I need to be doing, if not then it would be the last time, but if it is then what do I need to do in order to complete that task without raising my stress level?   So far so good that part is going to take some training but I am confident that I learn to master it.rest

All in all I would say I had a productive week and completed my first step to learning how to alleviate stress that is in my life and/or caused by life.  We will never be totally free of stress and I can attest to the fact that traumatic events will cause stress to linger a lot longer than we ever thought possible.  Learning how to cope so that it does not get to the point of causing us physical harm is vital to our wellbeing.

Do you have any suggestions on being calm, cool and collected when surviving stress?  Please share.


Courageous Butterfly


Related blogs/links

Oceans, Hillsong United

Anxiety, A Life Less Physical

Stress Management (AKA the silent Killer), Real Living

Limits And Stress, QuirkyJuice

Unguarded Heart

Protecting  someone or something is a natural instinct.  We’ve all been in a situation where we needed to protect a friend, child, or family member and we’ve even seen footage of wild animals protecting their young.  So if we have this natural instinct to protect then why is it so hard to know whether or not we should be protecting or guarding our hearts?

What is the heart? If you look it up in Google, it is referred to as the following:

1.  A hollow pump-like organ

2. The center of the total personality

3. The center of emotion

4.  Capacity for feeling.

I’m sure I”m not the only one to notice that the very first definition that comes up on any search engine is “a hollow pump-like organ”.  Most of us believe that this is the place where we store emotion, joy, sadness, any feeling we can possibly feel.  When in reality those feelings technically come from our brains.  If  you stop to think about it though something has to send the signal to our brain in order for us to have those feelings.  I like to think the heart is the culprit.    I had a hard time accepting that the heart started out as a hollow organ.  There had to be some sort of emotion or feeling stored in there at the moment of birth.  Then I looked at the other definitions and they made more sense to me.   I would much rather believe that when we are born our heart is filled with the capacity to feel and as we grow we use that capacity and center to develop our personalities.

If you look into the eyes of a newborn baby you can see the love in their hearts and as they grow their personality develops.  Based on this principle I disagree with the first definition of the hollow organ.  Yes I know medically speaking the organ is described that way because it does not contain anything, it is just a vessel.  Well, non-medically speaking it contains a hell of a lot!

We hold everything in our hearts and what is in our heart determines how we live our lives.  It doesn’t matter what we are suffering from if we hold that  in  it will continue to have a negative effect on our lives.  It’s not easy to let things go and move on but it is so important for our well-being not to hold onto the pain.  I”m not healed 100% just yet but, I have noticed that the days I can say I’m ok with everything are so much more productive in my life.  I’ve had to do a “clean sweep” of my heart on many occasions over the past couple of years but it was always necessary.  By “clean sweep” I mean taking the time to think and focus on how that pain was affecting my daily life.  I found that by keeping the painful feelings so close it was only going to bring me down and I would never move forward.  I still have some days where it tries to creep back in and those are the days I stand up and fight!
Our hearts will also hold happiness and there is a lot of room in there for that!  We start out in life full of happiness and somewhere along the road things happen and  that space can be taken up by grief, sadness and sorrow.  Any type of  loss can destroy the heart no matter what the circumstances are and having the courage to put yourself out there again is terrifying.  No one who has been through those feelings want to go through them again and many of us decide to close off the heart and not take the risk.  I wonder though, are we doing more damage by being so guarded?  Some of you know that I made the choice recently to go in unguarded and no matter how it ends up, I will never regret letting my heart feel again.   Each day that I spend with an unguarded heart I am the happiest.  The days that I choose to be protective of it is was when the fear and uncertainty creep back in.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m not a fan of feeling fearful or uncertain.  I spent too many years that way and it’s time now to choose not to let my heart fill up with those feelings.

We all have heard the phrase “it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all”.  I truly believe that;  no matter how much pain or suffering I went through with my divorce.   The beauty behind that phrase is that  it applies to anyone you have loved.  Be it a friendship that didn’t last, a romantic relationship or the passing of a loved one it is all the same.I will continue to be somewhat protective of my “feelings” which are controlled by my brain, rather than being over protective of what I am allowing to pass through my heart.  I know that it has a lot of room, I”m hoping most of that will be for happiness but I also know that there will also be some pain that has to pass through it again as well.  The good thing is I’m ok with that because I have already proven to myself that I can survive the pain that passes through my heart what’s important is that I allow that to happen.  In order to survive it you have to let it pass through, do not choose to hold it in.


Courageous Butterfly