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Can I Have PTSD If I Can't Remember?

Discussion in 'General' started by Rapunzel, Mar 27, 2007.

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  1. Rapunzel

    Rapunzel New Member

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    I've read the facts here on the site and diagnosis sheets and they are aimed (of course) at those who have had traumatic events. Now I feel a little bit of a fraud because I'm wondering if I can have pts syndrome if I can't remember the events?

    What is the difference between depression as a result of life's events, and ptsd?

    The best I can do is identify that I have been trying to deal with some kind of trauma, and compare my symptoms with those of other people, but I have no real recall of the events, apart from hints.

    Is recall necessary?

    Tricia
     
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  3. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

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    In regards to memory, or lack of, it's actually incredibly common with PTSD... memories get fragmented, don't make sense, get out of sequence....one of the 'symptoms' can be (but doesn't have to be) not remembering important aspects of the trauma in fact.

    From my understanding, PTSD is a description of a reaction to trauma that hangs around. Left alone, it often does not get any better -not in the same way that 'depression from life' can, when life gets better. Often referrals to trauma specialists happen when someone has been through therapy and it hasn't worked... because it is PTSD, and is not responsive to certain therapies aimed for other issues. It is not a mental illness, though sometimes causes diagnoses of various 'illnesses' or other psychological problems. You can have trauma, in that you have traumatic events in your past, but not develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But secondary psychological problems are not rare at all in PTSD either.

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is exactly that - post trauma stress, with guidelines of typical manifestations of that. There is evidence that traumatic memories are processed differently to normal memories, so in regards to memory I wouldn't say you DON'T have PTSD just because you don't remember.

    I don't know your situation, or what affects you feel, but if you feel that the trauma is still very much ingrained in your life now and you can't get away from it - whether that be with nightmares, fear reactions, emotional/sensational/visual/auditory/olfactory flashbacks, inability to concentrate, get it off your mind, spacing out, losing time, not feeling real, being over scared, jumpy etc. Sometimes you might not have the memory, but you know you are reacting strongly to a trigger.... all these, and more, I believe would be PTSD.

    If you have suffered trauma, and the trauma is affecting you still now to a significant degree.... that is most likely to be PTSD. Depression will stem from that. My guess is, without memory, it is probably difficult and confusing for you if you are reacting to things, and not knowing specifically why.

    I can't say you do or don't have PTSD simply because of memory loss, because PTSD is more than memory. If you just were able to remember what happened, those memories don't affect you, then that wouldn't be PTSD. If you don't remember, and just knowing the trauma happened but it doesn't affect you, it isn't PTSD (but may develop if memories come back). If you do remember, and are affected, that is PTSD. If you don't remember, but know you have trauma and ARE affected - that would still be PTSD. It is the reactions... not whether you can remember or not.

    I hope this helps?

    In regards to this I actually have a question of my own!! Does anyone know if psychological threat such as sexual abuse is now part of the diagnostic criteria? My impression is that it is widely accepted to be PTSD, but i'm not sure if it's in the DSM-IV-R??

    :) Lisa
     
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  4. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Amnesia is a part of trauma, though all memories will come back at some point, like it or not. Lisa explained PTSD with memories quite well, so I won't rehash it myself. Well said Lisa.
     
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  5. Grama-Herc

    Grama-Herc I'm a VIP

    Rapunzel, You are exactly like I was and I guess I still am. No memories-not a single one- from well forever til I was about 23-24. My therapist decided that attempting to dig up the past tramua was not the best thing to do as I may not be emotionally equiped to handle whatever it was that basically erased my memory. Through therapy I have been able to finally accept the fact that my childhood memories and teenage memories and early adulthood are gone. Sometimes when people start talking about things they remember from their childhood I get a mix of emotions-anger-jealousy-envy-depression- I even hate them because they have something I want. My life ! ! ! Cuz not being able to relive these things hurts. How much of you life is missing from your memeory? Mine is pretty much a blank and the most difficult part is 3 fold. My mother is now 83 and her memory isn't very good so that source is no longer availabe to me, my father is dead but the most frustrating part is the feeling that my mother-god love her-is keeping the trauma from me. My gutt feeling is she is lieing to me, that she does know and will not tell me, and I resent it. But my therapist has told me repeatly that if and when my mind can handle the trauma then I will remember but until or if it ever happens--CHILL OUT LET IT GO and this has helped me release the feeling of emptiness and some of my fears. I hope that this has helped you. I know that to have someone who truly understands what is going on with you is so important and really does help even if to jst know someone is listening. Chat with me anytime. I know how it feels Bye for now HERC
     
  6. Rapunzel

    Rapunzel New Member

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    Hello, and MANY thankyous for your kind replies. It's helped me (also as always made me feel shaky and scared because anything that gets me into "that place" has that effect).

    What you said, Herc, is immensely comforting to me. I am in the same position, although I don't currently have a therapist. It's only recently that I realised I don't remember my childhood, apart from one or two incidents and a general feeling of unhappiness.

    While I was living in a dead relationship, it was easier just to plod along but now my emotions have been reawakened I'm having to deal with the bad as well as the good. One part of that is, my husband and I have been exchanging facts about our past. HE has suffered very much (violence, bullying, rejection etc etc) yet he's able to remember most of his childhood. I realised then that my position is unusual. It's mostly a blank.

    People assumed my parents were dead because I never spoke of them. Until recently I never dreamt of them, except in negative ways (nightmares).

    In talking about things with my husband now, he tried to edge me into that place, but the reaction was so terrifying (pure uncontrollable terror such as I can't describe) that I had to back out. He wanted to help me recover my memories and restore me from trauma, but all these years I feel (as you said) I have been protected from it. As much as I'd like - in an ideal world - to be whole and remember things, it's probably best at the moment that I do not.

    Tricia
     
  7. Grama-Herc

    Grama-Herc I'm a VIP

    no memories

    :dontknow: One of the first things I learned when I joined the forum was that my blank childhood and a good case of amnesia was not so weird. It was at that poiint that dispite having multiple diagnosis and many problems I finally did not feel like I was crazy. It still bothers me that I can't remember graduating from high school or being able to recall my sister but Now that I know why it isn't quite so hard to deal with. I have simply decided to ride it out, accept it snd if the shit comes back to me so be it. Smile a lot and it will be:drugs: OK HERC
     
  8. Milly

    Milly New Member

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    Ptsd

    My names Milly and I have PTSD, however I don't remember everything but I have sort of flashes in my mind and everything seems muddled and I can't even remember what is real and what isn't sometimes.
     
  9. map9

    map9 Active Member

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    In a word ... Yes

    Dear Rapunzle, For me the memories were always there. It's just that a part of me didn't want to think about them, dicuss them, write about them or confront them.:redface: I had tied them up and put them in an imaginary box in my brain. But the toxic issues had had such an effect that the behavior I was displaying made no sense to me. I was confounded as to why now, so long after the event or events, I was reacting. It took years, then that turned into a decade and then that turned into decades (plural) and even now I can have disclosures of moments I had thought I had forgotten.

    Those buried memories are like timebombs. Until they are dug up and out and your making progress in your therapy that is when they will start coming. It's like your mind/body/soul can and will handle these revelations when properly tended to. Like anthony so aptly noted, this is a very clever disease. It establishes a sort of status quo and we get inculcated into a false belief system. PTSD effects are infuriatingly stubborn. It's like weeding out a garden. You get one dug up and another one pops up somewhere else. It may even manifest a new set of fearful type of reactions that might turn you into a physical and/or mental mess.

    Your mind will purge itself in due time, it may come so unexpectedly when a trigger occurs or while your mind is quiet or your performing some mundane repetitious chore. This is what happens to me. Profound insights that explain volumes, these are true epiphanies. All while scrubbing the commode or vacuuming! You see, by disconnecting the part of the thinking that is always repeating the self defeating self talk, the real you comes through. It's an inner phenomenon.

    When it first happened to me, I was a bit taken aback. I had to make a real effort to hang on to my hard won mental balance which seemed at that brief moment in precarious straights. Now, when I remember some apalling memory, I put it into context. I say to myself "That happened then, this is now and I'm going to go on. I honor (the child/me or the teen/me or the young woman/me) for surviving that." If I should get into a funk:crybaby: about it, I will make an effort to do something for that person who was me at that time. Tending to stifled emotions, bottled up reactions and repressed memories takes a very consistent strategy. Forgiving oneself each time because we can literally beat our own selves up with a myriad of weird/bad habits and coping mechanisms. If you panic, then is the time to address that with your doctor or partner. Don't rebottle up what had been bottled up.

    :poke: To address the touching and hugging issue. My husband grew up in a very well educated but extremely cold family, both parents were alcoholics. Only now, well into his sixties and just months past his anger management counseling has he become a "touchy feely" kind of guy. So, it's never ever too late. It's very heartwarming for me that the first thing he wants to do when he comes through the door is give me a big hug.

    I hope I'm making some sense here. Much wellness to you, take it one step at a time and by making a concerted effort you will get better.:thumbs-up

    Love, map9
     
  10. moki

    moki Guest

    I too have a period of my life that is very fuzzy and I remember very little. It was during my teenage years from about 13-18. I was very, very depressed, suicidal and although to everyone outside my family, functional; my own family was alarmed but never did anything about it. the stuff they did about it was more harmful than just leaving me alone.

    My mother also stopped hugging me or really touching me when I was 5 years old and my stepfather never, ever touched me. He gave me the creeps anyway. It's only been in the last few years that my mother hugs me when she sees me (which is only about 1 time per year). It was very difficult for her to do this, and I think it means more to her than it does to me. My children are teenagers now, but I got some big time hugging in up until a few years ago. My husband is not a big hugger and won't even snuggle with me, so empty nest is coming and we are both scared out of our minds.
     
  11. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Hi Milly, welcome to the forum.
     
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