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Sufferer PTSD & Me - A Unique PTSD Story... Childhood Trauma & Assaulted At Work

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New Here

First of all I'm very glad I found this place to hopefully get me some advice/connections/knowledge about my condition!

I was diagnosed with PTSD/Possible CPTSD, panic disorder, depression, dermatillomania, and generalized anxiety disorder 9 1/2 months ago following my first 2 years of teaching middle school in low income schools. I was assaulted (at least) twice, black mailed by my principal, humiliated in front of all the teaching staff and student/parents, had both students and parents threaten to kill/harm/stalk me, and was constantly told I "wasn't a good enough teacher" despite working 80-100 hours a week.

My new therapist recently pointed out that this was on top of trauma I experienced because of my narcissistic/borderline older sister physically and mentally torturing me while I was growing up, my parents messy divorce when I was 8, being told my mother was not my biological mother (egg donor), and some mental health issues my parents deal with. All of which I tend to not think of as "trauma" but just how I grew up...

Of course when I type it all out, that seems like an inordinate amount of horrible (or at the very least, unpleasant) experiences for someone to have had at only 25 yrs old (ok, technically 24, but my birthday is in a week- yay!) BUT- I still struggle with nagging feelings that "it wasn't that bad!" and I need to "just deal with it and get over it".

Yet, as many of you on her know i'm sure, PTSD isn't something you just get over. It takes work, and trying new therapies, and having symptoms flare up, but also having good days!

As far as treatment for my PTSD I have had three therapists. The first did very little to help me, but he was not a trauma therapist and I just wasn't ready to talk yet. The second was actually a marriage therapist that both me and my husband saw because my symptoms flaring up after months of just trying to ignore my diagnosis caused a huge strain on our marriage. He was quite helpful for our marriage, and was very vocal about me needing to se a therapist that specialized in PTSD. Which leads us to where I am now, seeing my AMAZING new therapist and feeling very hopeful that she can help me learn to cope in healthy ways, and desensitize me to my triggers.

I also have a great GP/psychiatrist who has found a medication that helps me tremendously (when I take it...) and has been great at treating my other physical issues that come from the stress of PTSD flares or panic attacks (eczema, IBS, nausea/vomiting, passing out).

The last member of my care team is my........DOG TRAINER!

Yes, you read that right. After realizing that this wasn't going to "go away" even with my medication and that Im substantially limited in my ability to function like a normal human being my psycharitrist and my therapist both recommended a service dog for me. I've done months of research, and hemmed and hawed about the decision for hours but ultimately have decided to at least give it a shot as it really would benefit me.

My dog will be trained to remind me to take my medication (I yell at my husband when he tries to remind me, or refuse to take it), alert me to early anxiety cues such as scratching or skin picking, do deep pressure therapy, and lick my face/nudge me when I am in a panic attack or dissociative state.

I am picking up my service dog candidate tomorrow if the final evaluation goes well and am very excited- but also extremely nervous! Thinking of all the ways it could go wrong etc.
Welcome @Eleanor27 ! Glad you found us. Hope you take time to read the Articles and especially the one about our Stress Cup.

This is a very supportive forum with people who understand. Glad you are here, if not glad for the reasons.
Welcome to the forum. I'm glad you've found a PTSD therapist--getting on the right track made a big difference for me.
Its a combination of forgetting and becoming irrational and not wanting to take it. I still struggle with denial of my diagnosis, and my family is hugely unsupportive of me taking any kind of medication because "its not like youa re a crazy person or something!". My husband tries to remind me but I often get irrationally angry at him for doing so and it just causes a lot of issues...A dog however I cannot argue with! I feel like I would be much more likely to just take the medication with a doggie reminder since the dog is neutral and just doing what I asked him to do.
Denial is a maladaptive way to cope with pain. Your pain has been bad enough to put your marriage on the line, rather than accept you are in pain and have to work on it. No judgment, I pretty much wrecked my life in denial over PTSD.

Service dogs are great, mine has saved my life several times over, but it's a lot of work. A lot. There are some real downsides to the service dog lifestyle (and it does change one's lifestyle) that tend to go better when someone does work on the issues the dog is to help with, long before getting the dog. Perhaps you are already doing this work.

I have utilized a service dog for many years. I really strongly suggest working on challenging any distorted thoughts (most people with PTSD have distorted thoughts) and self-judgment regarding the condition, need for treatment, and to work on skills around boundaries with others regarding treatment. Once you have a service dog, you'll need to figure out how you respond to your family saying things like, "Why do you need a service dog? You are fine." if they don't like you taking pills, they'll likely struggle with an even bigger reminder of you having the condition.

You'll need to have strategies on hand to handle this not just with your family, but general members of the public will comment on this as well. You'll also have to be good at saying no to people who come up and try to pet with or play with the dog while it is working. If saying no to your family's advice to not take medication is a problem now, you'll likely struggle with members of the public pleading to pet the dog (and thus screwing up it's alerting) or questioning why you have one at all when you look able-bodied.

Service dogs are a tool, but it comes with downsides, and they don't take away our need to do a lot of work to develop a whole box of tools. It stinks, but it's worthwhile to do the work on that toolbox.
Thanks for all the advice. I have been doing a lot of work on my own and with different therapists since I was diagnosed. I am much better than I was 9 1/2 months ago! A lot of the denial comes from the improvement I have had, feeling like I can't have PTSD still if I am having so many good days with minimal symptoms. It's one of my biggest hurdles, but Im trying to keep pushing through it even when it pops back up after I think I have it squashed. It has been much worse this week as #1) today I picked up my new service dog candidate and have been feeling particularly guilty since I don't have PTSD as "bad" as I did or as "bad" as others have it, and feel like a fraud for getting a dog, and #2) this week was the 2yr anniversary of the first assault.

I have also done thousands of hours of research on service dogs and am fully committed to a new lifestyle. I believe that changing my lifestyle and routine to care for and train my new dog will be helpful in my recovery, as I am very aware that I have to be able to function at a certain level to even be able to utilize my service dog as a tool. Im also thinking of it as a way to kind of "turn over a new leaf" where Im able to accept my PTSD and move forward as I settle in to a new routine. Im also generally a pretty outspoken person, and do not have the typical social/crowd anxiety that many PTSD sufferers have (I'm terrified of seeing my students/principal, or large groups of kids- but not people in general) so I would feel very confident telling someone to leave my service dog and I the heck alone! My job is to tell people no all day long (I work at the intake department of an animal shelter and we turn people away all the time) so I have some practice.

Surprisingly, my parents have been much more accepting of me getting a service dog than taking medication. I have always loved animals and I think it is easier for them to think of me being helped by a dog than being a patient who has to take medication. My parents are both doctors and have always been very wary of me or my sisters taking anything not strictly necessary because the town we grew up in had so many prescription pill addicts.
A lot of the denial comes from the improvement I have had, feeling like I can't have PTSD still if I am having so many good days with minimal symptoms.
Keep in mind... that’s the entire point. To reduce symptoms down to as close to nil as possible, or even wholly asymptomatic.
My dog was a miracle worker. Unlike others experience mentioned here, my family fell in love with her.Altho I often had to remind them she wasn't *just* a pet but a tool. She who must be obeyed was a nom given her!
Welcome. I just wanted to mention by not taking your medicine as prescribed it could be causing more issues. I know when my guy misses a dose or two it really sets him back. Glad you found us!!
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