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Most Symptoms, No Real Trauma

Discussion in 'Military & Emergency Services' started by GwenDR, Mar 1, 2017.

  1. GwenDR

    GwenDR Active Member

    I talked about it some in my welcome post, but I'm a Navy veteran. I never saw combat. I wasn't assaulted or abused. I wasn't exposed to anything everyone else wasn't. Nothing that's abnormal or outside normal life experience. I was closeted transgender, I performed miserably, I was yelled at almost every day for screwing up, I found the DC equipment horrifying to wear, especially the OBAs which cut off your ability to breath when you're running between air stations. But nothing unusual. I just couldn't take it. But other than criterion A, I arguably have at least one item in every other criterion (not necessarily the minimum number for all of them, though). I have major anxiety that keeps me stuck in the house. I miss school over it. I've avoided finding a job because I'm scared of being trapped around people and unable to go hide. I want to curl up into a ball around screaming. I'm suicidal off and on. I was definitely suicidal while in the Navy. But I shouldn't be this messed up from being around, at worst, a few bullies, and having to run a few ship drills. No real emergencies, ever. I did have a friend crushed to death in machinery, but I wasn't' even on the boat at the time. Another friend committed suicide a few months after I got out. But I wasn't a responder, wasn't around for either one.

    I hate being like this, and nothing happened! My ability to cope with stressors is horrible. I shut down. I avoid going to the VA just because I don't want to be reminded about the military. I don't even want to track down friends from the Navy because it has to do with my time there. It's been seven years since I got out and I can't function. And nothing happened. At least, I feel like that all the time.
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  3. ladee

    ladee All the hard work has been worth it ! Premium Member

    You may be minimizing the trauma. To be in a constant state of fear of being outed by itself traumatic.
    Trauma is trauma is trauma.
    Feeling trapped. Not getting to be your authentic self .
    That is traumatic.
    No matter the big capital letters..you were in a super stressful envionment for long periods of time.
    And being yelled at because they didn't know you couldn't picture a procedure...plus being in a constant state of fear and anxiety, is traumatic.
    Reading your introduction I felt like I couldnt breathe..so can only imagine being there in real life with No escape.
    No matter..you are very welcome here.
    Hope you start to feel more comfortable here as time goes by.
    We are glad you are here .
    tiredtexan, GwenDR and claroscuro like this.
  4. GwenDR

    GwenDR Active Member

    Followup post about one of the friends who died. Industrial accident. This was originally part of a chat conversation, edited.

    I was on a ballistic missile sub, the USS Nebraska. We had two crews, Gold Crew and Blue Crew, and we trade the boat back and forth. My crew will deploy for a few months, then we come home. Both crews work together to get the ship working and ready for the next deployment. Then the other crew takes it out, we do office work to support their deployment and prepare for our next. So Gentile and I were both A-Gangers, he was Blue Crew. I was Gold.

    A-Gang has the worst job on the ship. We own almost everything, that's not nuclear, not electronic. We do plumbing and sewage, atmospheric purification, air conditioning, hydraulics, high pressure air, and damage control equipment. Other stuff too. But we have so much stuff that we basically don't get time off when the ships in port, because it takes 16-19 hour days, 6-7 days a week just to keep in in repair, in addition to staying on the boat every few days for watch duty, including armed watches.

    At least once a week, in port or underway, the entire crew will deep clean the whole ship. It’s called a Field Day. Chiefs walk around with giant flashlights pointing out everything you missed, while you try to hide in the bulkhead or under the floor cleaning the same spot so you can just chat with your buddies for the whole 3-4 hours, if you can get away with it.

    Once me and Gentile were cleaning in the bilge, and he'd crawled under a bunch of dense pipes and gotten really stuck. I wound up having to help him get out, and it took a while, He was panicking, and was really scared from being stuck.

    A few months later, while the blue crew was underway, they had a field day. He was cleaning by the rudder ram, which is a giant hydraulic piston that moves the ships rudder. He climbed inside it to clean some oil leak. They turned the ship at that moment, and his hips were crushed by the moving parts. They did an emergency surface, and were able to get a helicpoter to the boat for an emergency evac, but he died on the helicopter a few hours later. We found out about it when we got to the office that morning, that they were pulling into port because if it.


    I spent a lot of time of time imagining finding him, or stoping him. Or just thinking about what it must have looked like when I'd walk by the ram. I stood watch where I would have been the one to find him. Or how I would have felt if I had been operating the rudder, which was also a job I had. I cleaned where he cleaned all the time. And I'd think about the time he got stuck in the pipes, and how scared he was, and wonder how much more scared he was in the accident.

    There were all kind of safety procedures that should have prevented that. It shouldn't have happened. I can't understand why he'd have crawled in there. That was such a bizarre safety violation. He should have notified somone he wanted to clean inside the rudder ram, get permission. They'd lock the rudder, station someone at the location in constant communication with the bridge, and everyone would get constant updates about what was going on. No one would ever have expected someone to do that. I can't understand it.

    I wasn't there for it. Didn't see any of it, or clean it up. Didn't hold his hand as he was lying on the cot in sickbay. None of that. I mean, of course I was upset about it. Anyone would have been. But I wasn't there.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2017
  5. Deadman

    Deadman Well-Known Member

    And then you say "nothing unusual". I challenge that. I'd say that was a pretty heavy load to carry.

    PTSD isn't always the result of a single, spectacular, blow out trauma. It can be the result of cumulative traumas over a long period of time, especially if a sense of helplessness is attached to it.

    Have you talked to your Therp about this?
    tiredtexan, Friday and ladee like this.
  6. Walter C

    Walter C New Member

    Remember that most PTSD trauma doesn't come from direct combat or seeing what happened to your friend, and you don't have to fill all of the blocks to have PTSD. The fact that you are having problems like this says that you have PTSD.
    If i were you, i would request an outside therapist through VA. I have a civilian therapist i see through the Veterans Choice Program because I don't trust the VA. It was easy to do and i get a visit every 2 weeks. I only go to the VA for my medications.
    ladee likes this.
  7. parapsycho

    parapsycho New Member

    Hi Gwen!

    We have alot in common. I was also a SSBN sailor (USS Tennessee). I was a nuke mechanic (m-div), so I got to work pretty closely with A-gang, and can appreciate how difficult your job was. I probably couldn't have done it.

    I'm sorry about your friend. I heard about it while I was in, and after that I wouldnt go near the rudder ram. I think they actually had it cordoned off while we were underway.

    I also have some of the same issues as far as PTSD goes. Being a nuke sucked. Having to take written exams every week on powerpoints that you saw a month ago. Doing engineering quals and ships quals at the same time, while getting bitched at from both sides why it was taking so long. I gotta say, though, I wouldn't have gotten my dolphins if it wasn't for A-gang! Then there were guys who would come to the boat after being a staff member at nuke prototype. They were almost always douchebags, and would get most of their engineering quals written off.

    After I was taken off the boat, I went to Limited Duty under the direction of a chief that made it a daily task to tell the mental health people that they didnt 'deserve' to be there. How we were sh*tbags who just couldn't handle it. That did wonders for our recovery.

    Anyway. I just wanted to say that I think I know how you feel. My experience was more a long drawn out period of subtle abuse punctuated by periods of extreme douchebaggery on the part of people that were supposed to be there to help.

    I still have flashbacks to certain situations, followed by self loathing because I actually start to believe what I was told during my Lim-Du period.

    I'll stop rambling for now. Just know you are not alone.
    tiredtexan, ladee and GwenDR like this.
  8. woundedmind

    woundedmind Member

    Also former military (US Army Active 1986-1991). During my time period the Army was a hostile place if you were even suspected of being what they considered any of the LGBTQ spectrum. Varying levels of in/tolerance depending who you were/where you were, etc. Even if someone thought you could out them could lead to paranoia and violent behavior if you were surrounded by the so-called minority at the time, regardless of desire. Repercussions could be detrimental to your career and possibly end your life, nevermind that military members were often required to participate in dangerous activities and training even during the Cold War. Fear in these situations are not unusual but in my own case, I had to fear being alone without witnesses at any time whether on duty or off. Fearing when certain persons had Charge of Quarters duty (having access to keys to your room), etc. Having reported sexual harassment of long standing and continuing nature and have it swept aside with no investigation, having my possessions/room vandalized, being assaulted on a daily basis and verbally harassed in front of as many as 62 witnesses at-a-time through an inhouse instant messaging system certainly made me fear for my life to the point of exacerbating undiagnosed pre-existing mental health subacute conditions into chronic clinical symptoms of depression and dissassociation.

    Being sensitive (a loathed word in the macho community of the military and other milieu) can predispose you to being vulnerable to acquiring these disorders when exposed to the non-caring and sometimes downright inimical environment that can exist in the military during wartime and peacetime. The military is an authoritarian environment and despite the good will and intentions of many volunteers, it can be abused easilty should even one person in a position of ultimate local authority really have very little to check them during the times when you couldn't easily contact the right government officials when your chain-of-command wasn't cooperative or corrupt. Even a local commander afraid of what a rape incident might affect a chance of their own promotion if viewed as a failure of leadership leading to an environment that allowed 'rampant' sexual harassment to exist/hostile work and living environment.

    So unless your recall of a situation included really strange things like oompa loompas and talking cheshire cats, you may not have imagined it all (grain of truth in there). Perception of possibly dangerous things may get overexaggerated to someone who is experiencing adrenal flooding, but it doesn't mean that there wasn't danger to trigger you in the first place, just that it can cause an overreaction sometimes, the moreso the more often you are being activated without full recovery in between times.

    Source: personal reading, talks with mental health professionals and other 'victims' and personal experience.
    tiredtexan and ladee like this.
  9. woundedmind

    woundedmind Member

    Almost as soon as it was put in the DSM as an actual legitimate diagnosis, I was diagnosed with CPTSD and prior to that just about anything with a component of Major Depression, Chronic and similar diagnoses, along with what they thought was unrelated or somatoform disorders, which the medical community is starting to realize are real things and not just 'all in your head.'
    ladee likes this.
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