Undiagnosed I think I have PTSD? Flashbacks and Nightmares

nina.is.cold

New Here
Hi friends. I've never done anything like this before.
I was sexually assaulted at five years old and have witnessed domestic abuse, child abuse, and just like a lot of shit that doesn't even have a fancy label for it.
I was diagnosed with depression at 16, and anxiety at 22 but I'm starting to think that I've been downplaying other parts of my mental illness.
I have nightmares that are so vivid and crystal clear that I have a hard time discerning them from reality when I wake up. True story: I went an entire day thinking my mom was dead. Luckily she was fine. Another thing: doesn't happen much when I'm sober but when I smoke weed, I get vivid flashbacks--visual/auditory/emotional.
Please help me. My shrink thinks I'm just another angsty adolescent. Do I have PTSD?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Welcome! And sorry for what you have been through.

Have you spoken with your doctor/therapist about whether they think you have PTSD (or maybe complex PTSD)?

Does having a diagnosis make things clearer for you? Or is understanding these flashbacks, and making links about your thoughts/feelings with your experiences the key?

You're in good company here. You'll be heard and validated and supported. It's a great forum.
 

Friday

Moderator
Please help me. My shrink thinks I'm just another angsty adolescent. Do I have PTSD?
No one here can diagnose you... and a great many people who CAN diagnose life long disorders, shy away from doing so with adolescents... as that diagnosis can cut you off from all kinds of amazing opportunities in life. Often, to no purpose, as all disorders share symptoms (and all symptoms? Are “just” extreme versions of normal life things) ...and what can make life difficult for 6mo, 2 years, 5years? Shouldn’t cut anyone off from amazing opportunities for the next 80 years, ya know??? Because a lifelong diagnosis was slapped onto someone young enough to totally recover. ((That doesn’t mean that all adolescents with effects from trauma will totally recover, but it isn’t slamming the door shut on you, before giving you a fighting chance, either.))

I’m a great big huge giant fan of proper diagnosis, as knowing what one is dealing with is a massive shortcut in getting help for what one is dealing with. And prevent wasted years trying to jam a square peg in a round hole. But? Young brains are so plastic/adaptive that they can tick every box for a diagnosis for a few years and then POOF. Never tick those boxes again. Especially with assistance via things like trauma therapy, sleep therapies, stress management, etc...but even without outside assistance? Young brains are just so. damn. badass. that they can adapt and improvise their way to being totally healthy all on their own.

Seeking help with nightmares, panic attacks, flashbacks, etc. as you are? Gives you a giant leaping head start in building up something known as “traumatic resilience” ...which is the single best way to avoid PTSD. And to encourage that total-recovery thing. Because you don’t need a diagnosis to work with a trauma therapist (and there really are dozens of disorders, not just PTSD, that result from trauma, and trauma therapists work with all of them); nor does someone even have to have a disorder to feel the effects from trauma, and learn to manage them.

So it’s really not bad news that your psychiatrist is holding off on a diagnosis. Whether that’s PTSD, ASD (acute stress disorder), or any of the rest of them, or none at all. It’s actually a damn good sign he/she thinks that what you’re dealing with? Is completely recoverable, not just manageable, or remission... but total recovery.

It also doesn’t say anything about how severe your symptoms are, or how much they’re impacting your life. PTSD ranges from mildly annoying, to profoundly severe. Someone with no disorder whatsoever? Can have FAR more severe and painful issues going on & impacting their life, than someone who has a mild -or even moderate- case of PTSD. PTSD isn’t a pain-scale. It doesn’t measure how much someone is hurting.

Welcome to the community!
 

nina.is.cold

New Here
Does having a diagnosis make things clearer for you? Or is understanding these flashbacks, and making links about your thoughts/feelings with your experiences the key?

You're in good company here. You'll be heard and validated and supported. It's a great forum.
Thank you very much for your response. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

I suppose having a diagnosis would just...put a name to the terrible shit I'm going through? I know that's a toxic thing to do, but I feel like my sadness goes a little bit beyond basic symptoms of depression and anxiety. The flashbacks are the most concerning thing to me. And the thing is, I don't even know if they're flashbacks. I read a little bit about them, and people say they're "visual and vivid, like you're literally there," and I dont see things with my literal eyeballs but I'm there, and I see and feel it crystal clear in some weird alternate realm that isn't perceivable with eyeballs.

I'm digressing. What I mean is, I fear that I don't actually have PTSD--that I'm just really sad and really f*cked up, and I'm merely floating around in some vague, un-nameable misery that can't be treated. Maybe I seek the comfort of knowing, or being able to point a finger at something and say, "Aha! I knew I wasn't f*cked up! It's because of my insert-diagnosis-here!" And if I don't have PTSD, then what the f*ck is wrong with me? Why do I have to be so much sadder than everyone else? Why can't I enjoy things and be happy like other young people? I'm not asking in a self-pitying, rhetorical way either. I'm desperately wondering. Not having a clear answer is a scarier thought than the thought of having PTSD.
 

nina.is.cold

New Here
So it’s really not bad news that your psychiatrist is holding off on a diagnosis. Whether that’s PTSD, ASD (acute stress disorder), or any of the rest of them, or none at all. It’s actually a damn good sign he/she thinks that what you’re dealing with? Is completely recoverable, not just manageable, or remission... but total recovery.
I really hope so. Is it bad that I think that even if I were to get treatment for the nightmares, the flashbacks, the night terrors, etc--that I'll never truly be happy? I've been this way for so long and while I am enthusiastic about getting help and doing whatever it takes to better myself, what if I'm never actually happy, and I die at 85 having lived a life of complete and utter misery?
 

Weezley

New Here
I really hope so. Is it bad that I think that even if I were to get treatment for the nightmares, the flashbacks, the night terrors, etc--that I'll never truly be happy? I've been this way for so long and while I am enthusiastic about getting help and doing whatever it takes to better myself, what if I'm never actually happy, and I die at 85 having lived a life of complete and utter misery?
I truelly understand what your going threw. Having been beaten and molested. Alot of times I question weather or not I'll get better. The one thing I can tell you for sure is giving up is a guarantee to being a miserable 85 year old. Keep working on your self. Even if as small as introducing healthier foods into your diet and or taking a self defence class to make sure it never happens again. You'd be amazed what alot of small changes can do to build your self back up.
 
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