Thursday, 3 November 2016

Acts Of Violence

"I was a third year teacher when one of the student's parent came into the classroom high on drugs. Without saying a thing he shot me once in the chest. I remember ordering the children to run out of the room. Next thing my grandmother and my grandfather who I never got to meet, were telling me that I have to go back. There were things I needed to do. I remember not wanting to go back but I'm glad I did. I married and raised two children."
This comment from yesterday's blog literally took my breath away.
It described an act of violence in such a conversational way that it almost hurt reading it.
It shows a huge capacity in coping.
Thankfully acts of true violence are rare.

Apart from having to deal with paranoid and combative patients on intensive care, I have never really been party to a violent situation. When patient's kick off, my psychiatric training will often kick in, so remembering the mantra " keep close and keep in control" I have often used my fuller figure to my advantage to quash  any violent situations with a hefty fat arse! well until the time the doctor with the sedation can swing in to the rescue.

One study in the US found that up to 22% of nurses showed symptoms of PTSD
I thought this statistic as interesting as it worrying. So I won't apologise for another of Going Gently's straw polls! 
Has anyone out there suffered from PTSD ?
Or did the violence managed to pass you by?


84 comments:

  1. Thankfully, no. We have a friend who had a meeting planned in one of the twin towers on 9/11 and was in his hotel room nearby it happened. He suffered quite a bit afterwards from the trauma. He may still suffer but we don't ask.
    Mary's story was, yes, breathtaking.
    John, in your profession you must have been present at the passing of patients. Have you ever seen or experienced anything unusual at the time?

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    1. Not once Andi, and Imust have been witness to perhaps 100 in my career....

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  2. In about 1982 I was subjected to work place violence. I was to start holidays the next day with a trip to New Zealand. I cried in front of management and I was cross with myself for doing so. I downplayed it to my partner and I did not let the incident affect our holiday, but it still haunts me at times. Of course, just like a woman who has been raped who might be wondering, did I lead him on, it was my fault, so do I think.

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    1. You comment wants me to ask more about the incident
      It opens so many gender issues

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  3. There are a couple of different types of PTSD. I personally suffer from 'Complex PTSD Type 2'.
    I lived with an emotionally abusive and violent partner for 23yrs. My PTSD has kicked in big time since he has been totally out of my life for the past 7months. During the trauma, (in my situation) you down play the violence and abuse. You minimise it to enable you to live day to day. To you its 'normal'. That's your life. I'm out of it now. I was in a serious situation and I see I'm so very lucky to escape with my life. The traumatic events have come back to bite me on the bum big time, but I'm confident that I've done the hard bit and will also learn to cope with the PTSD.
    Many people down play violent or abusive acts as its their brains way of being able to cope with the trauma.

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    1. Your final sentence resonated with me, as I remember discussing the holocaust with a psychiatrist I once worked with. He said that trauma like the final solution was soooo traumatising for many that it would be dangerous to try to vent the pain. Once buried , for some, it would be left just buried

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    2. Yes, that is very true. I experienced some very violent acts that I know are 'in my head', but I also know I will leave them buried there as to repeat any of them would destroy the peace of mind I am aiming for.

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  4. I suffered a lot of trauma as a child aged 12/13, and even before those events with parents who battered each other. I dealt with it entirely by myself (I felt I had no choice), but with the benefit of adult hindsight, I can see it affected me greatly, and still does to an extent. Children are amazingly resilient, though.

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    1. Yes, they have a different insight and perhaps differing mental mechanisms to bring into play

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  5. Stunned reading Mary's above . . .
    Plus the others here and in your previous post . . .
    It has me wondering about me . . .
    Several years as a trauma center hospital chaplain and traumatic critical incidents are flashing in front of me . . .

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    1. I think experiencing trauma , loss and violence second hand so to speak has its own problems

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  6. i have full blown PTSD. I am PTSD. i was in therapy for 30 years and it really didn't help.

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    1. What symptoms do you suffer from the most?

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  7. When I was 20 years old, my boyfriend asked me to bring him a glass of water. I did. Next thing I knew he was grabbing me by the hair and beating me .. he was angry because the water was not cold enough. At work the next day, I told a girl that I worked with and at lunch time she took me to the apt and we smuggled all of my belongings out and I stayed with her until I could leave the area altogether .. I used to play the scenes over in my head, except this time I had a weapon or was super strong and could fight back. Now I just feel so sorry for that young girl who was so clueless about people and too trusting. God or whoever made up for it by sending me a husband who was gentle and good. So I look back on the violence as something akin to getting hit by a car, it was horrible but I lived and was happy.

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    1. Thank goodness for your friend

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  8. So far I've been lucky. Don't know how I'd cope with something like that.

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    1. People just do....well....until they dont

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  9. When my older brother arrived home from Vietnam he was a mess. He slept most of the time, and we were afraid to rouse him. He would come off of the bed fighting for his life. Sometimes, fully asleep, he'd be crouched in the corner of the room and weeping. We had an ice storm that blew out one of the electrical transformers. Before I could realize that the lights had gone off, he was on the floor, pulling me down and screaming "Get down! Get down!" I know that his case was extreme and that there are milder forms of the disorder. But sometimes I think that people use the term too lightly. Some members of my breast cancer survivors group claim to have PSTD. I never tell them that sadness over the loss of your health or the loss of a breast isn't PSTD. I just let it go. I think if they really saw PSTD, they'd understand the difference.

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    1. How did he get through

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    2. I respectfully disagree. There are degrees of trauma. I have a blog friend who writes insightfully about breast cancer. This year she posted about the increased rate of suicide among cancer survivors. If you'd like to read it, here is the link: http://www.womaninthehat.com/survivors-suffering-suicide/

      Please know that this in no way diminishes what your brother went through. That is something no family should have to suffer. War truly is hell.

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    3. One type of Trama may happily bounce over one person's head and quite graphically cripple another ....there is no fairness in all this

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  10. My ex-husband was controlling, unstable, and ultimately physically violent. I stayed with him for ten years until I finally realized that he would eventually kill me. I left with our daughter and the clothes on our backs. It's been 25 years but the trauma can still be felt. Even just writing this has my pulse elevated. Certain sounds, situations, songs, etc can trigger a panic attack.
    But, I'm much better than I was! And improving all the time.

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    1. Powerful...even writing a name causes you stress?

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  11. John, I just wanted to say that just by reading the comments you get I see that many of your readers have had very interesting lives. I don't know if it is how you frame a question that leads so many people to open up to you but well done! Back to the question - I think many people have undiagnosed PTSD. My Mum was a child in the Second World War. Even now she gets jittery if a low flying plane goes over. She told me once of being in the classroom and of an enemy pilot flying so low that she came face to face with him through a window in the building. My Nan suffered nervous breakdowns - she lived through two World wars. I expect that any prolonged traumatic event could lead to PTSD in later years.

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    1. Now, that HAS sparked something!
      I am now convinced that my maternal grandmother suffered from PTSD as probably did my mother. They both experienced bombing in Liverpool in 1940 . I remember seeing my grandmother hide in the airing cupboard during a thunderstorm

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    2. I bet a lot of the older generations kept their horror stories deep within. Today we are told to 'open up' and share our thoughts or have counselling. Sometimes talking about events can help but I think a lot of people would rather forget than rake over what has passed.

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    3. Wow John, your reply to the above comment has also resonated with me. My mother grew up during the Blitz in London and she too used to hide in a cupboard, or under the stairs, or under a table during thunderstorms. She often dragged us kids in there with us.. she was so bad my Dad used to come home from work just to check on her.

      Jo in Auckland, NZ

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  12. i startle easily. i can't sleep. i can't relax because i am always expecting that something bad is about to happen. it's weird because i'm a very happy person but this is always looming over my head. i'm extremely cautious and i can judge a person in a nano second. i learned very early to 'read' people so i will know who is good and who is bad. my shrink said she never knew of anyone who could read people so quickly and i have really never been wrong.

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  13. http://memoirsofacardiopulmonaryguy.blogspot.com/2014/10/rainy-night-prelude-to-last-story.html

    Sorry for the link, John.
    Mike

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    1. That was powerfully written Mike

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    2. Wow....I couldn't read the story in one try. I would stop, relax, go back to it, stop, relax, rinse wash repeat. Thanks!

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  14. I am always slightly disturbed by the idea of PTSD John. My first husband was on tje Death Railway in Siam as it was then. He saw the most horrendous atrocities, nearly died of things like cholera, malaria, beri beri and the like. Came home, aged only 22 (he was captured at 16 as a boy soldier), trained as an art teacher, met and married me and I can honestly say that in our thirty nine happy years together I was never aware of any such condition. He spoke of his experiences sometimes, but not often. I know one case doesn't make PTSD non existent, but he always soldiered on putting it behind him. As, incidentally, two friends who were survivors of the holocaust. Of course I never knew what any of them were thinking, but they managed to live full and happy lives notwithstanding.

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    1. Did you read my comment about the holocaust ?
      I repeat.. a psychiatrist I once knew stated that song awful memories are buried and buried deep for a reason.
      It's part of coping for some

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    2. My mother in law was the cheeriest and most loving woman and I remember how completely stunned I was when I heard the story of her childhood. With 2 brother much older , she and her family left Russia by any means possible, came to America .. except the parents could not come so they put their children on a ship and sent them alone and stayed behind and died.
      The children went to various distant cousins and did not see each other again until they were old .. in their 70s.
      One went to the US, one to Argentina and one to Israel.
      I was honored to be there for that reunion.
      I cry every time I think of it :) They were so old and fragile and crying to hold each other and be together again ..

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    3. Sounds like a film , people today may not comprehend the sacrifices of past generations

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  15. I was saved from a burning schoolbus as a child, and for years after I wouldn't go near a fire. I was even afraid of smokers because I couldn't stand watching them strike the match to light a cigarette.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. Bloody hell......the comments cover a myriad of traumas!

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  16. As I think you might recall, I once had to listen in the dead of night to the horror of a very dear friend being assaulted in his own home. Not something I would ever want to hear again. I suspect the victim has buried that memory quite deep. I think that's the only act of violence I have ever been anywhere near thankfully.

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    1. I think I gave more than I got! The beginning of the end

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  17. Thankfully no. did burn out when did cancer nursing, hours, deaths and not good support. Only been hit once by a schizophrenic she was anorexic and little. I'm quite tall so used my height to give her a warning. I've been shouted at which I actually find more upsetting as the person shouting was clearly in the wrong (late for appointment)and clearly used to getting own way. I do find as I get older I get more stressed easily and health issues a start to get worse. World we live in I'm afraid.

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  18. After teaching Emotionally challenged children for 30 years it's taken me 3 years of retirement to over come the violence I experience against me and others, often ending with Police intervention.
    I'm just out of depression, and starting to enjoy my life with my animals and OH.

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    1. Another interesting facet to all this.......I wonder how many police personnel have problems too?

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    2. A huge number of Australian police have PTSD, often suiciding as a result. The problem and the poor response from the Police Srevice gets a regular airing in the media.Hopefully it is getting better but there is a long way to go

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  19. Your question reminds me of a couple of patients. One an elderly Jewish lady having the quite old fashioned radiotherapy treatment internally for cancer of the cervix. Going back to the 80's non of us knew her history but one nurse a tall blond gentle lass couldn't go in the room as the poor woman screamed and screamed. The girl in question had the white blond hair so obviously she had some dreadful memories of cruelty at the hands of a woman which is all the more shocking. Another woman wept when she told me of a stillborn child she never saw 40 years before. Knew the sex only. You know some patients touch you don't they. The one who makes me cry even 20 years later was a young woman in her 20's who was a patient at my old practice. She didn't get on with her parents. I referred her for counseling and a she seemed less traumatised. However on returning to work on the Monday morning I was told she had hung herself in her parents barn. I have never stop blaming myself as we got on well. Always wondered why she didn't tell me. She looked like Tamsin Outhwaite the blond actress from EastEnders. I still get choked now thinking about her.

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    1. Some people's mental trauma is never ending and so difficult for us to understand

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  20. I've learnt a bit about PTSD through learning to understand my son who suffered from it for years. He was in Kosovo and Iraq while he was in the army, still now stories come out that he has protected the family from.

    I also think Alan has a lot of suppressed trauma, but he is the sort to bury things so deep he will not allow them to surface ... I get a glimpse every now and then of how his time in the military, and more specifically the losses he struggled with have affected him and the man he is today.

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    1. I thought the army especially has good resources where PTSD IS concerned sue? Perhaps not

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  21. PTSD. = Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's a 'disorder' of the brain after a traumatic experience. Be that bombing, a punch, breast cancer, (any traumatic health disorder) witnessing an event ...anything traumatic. What's classed as traumatic is unique to each of us too. It can be mild, it can be complex, it can be severe. Everyone of us is unique and our brains cope in ways unique to each of us.
    I wouldn't wish it on anyone (except maybe my ex) .

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  22. I was strangled one evening by a friend of a friend at work, Snack Bar at a Drive in Movie Theater. It was when we were cleaning up.
    He was goofing off with his friend but his hands were around my throat in a second. It hurt so much and I was shocked. It was only a second but I really don't remember much about what happened next. It was a strange moment and he never visited his friend at the Snack Bar again. I found another job. I never saw him again.
    I never spoke to anyone about it as it was so quick and over with.
    But I really can't remember much about the evening. It was so many years ago. I do have throat and neck problems.
    Weird.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Mary A, I am so happy to know you survived and married and have two children.

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    2. There are quite a few survivors here me thinks

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  23. Some tragic stories here John.

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    1. More than I expected ..which speaks volumes

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  24. I once had a contretemps with a bearded male nurse at a poseurs' pub in the centre of Sheffield. It's called "All Bar One". He was as pissed as a vicar at a Christmas party. He bumped into me and spilt my pint of Tetley's so I invited him outside and gave him a right pasting. He kept yelling "Stop it! You're hurting me!" in a soft Welsh accent but I showed no mercy. I bet that fellow's got PTSD.

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    1. I remember it well!

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    2. Oh! How embarrassing. It was you! Please accept my apologies. I was in a bad mood that night.

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    3. Weren't you just

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    4. I will be happy to reimburse you for the hefty dental bill you must have incurred.

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    5. Yorkshire Pudding, I have had my misgivings about you before. To beat someone to a pulp over a spilled pint of something and admit to it in public? Nah. No substance, even less style.

      U

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    6. He was joking Ursula ..he was pretending he met me when I lived in Sheffield
      U need to lighten up a little dear girl

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    7. But the funny thing is - and Yorkshire Pudding couldn't possibly know this - is that you did once need dental work after a night in All Bar One. Those were the happy days! I still laugh!!

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  25. I lost my business partner to breast cancer last year. After her death we discovered she had been stealing from our clients the last few months before her death. I was horrified, shocked and so angry and still am but paid back all of our clients within a week or so... and had a drinking problem since then. I know I have PTSD,

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    1. Well you can't get any more honest than that

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  26. Yes. And fortunately my both of my previous employers in the US invested in a 1-800 hotline system for you to call, just to talk("get it off your chest"), or give you information on where to go if you needed more counseling. Which I did.

    Having that in place, a system that is anonymous and won't get you fired, really helped me cope through some trying situations, and by pursuing counseling further, I learned some excellent coping skills that I can still apply to this day.

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    1. We have the Samaritans !

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    2. What if you are deaf John? can you email the Samaritans?

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  27. As at least one of your commentators said, certain "conditions" and their names bandied about with abandon. Which, and no doubt your experience, gives those terms an inflationary "value".

    The closest I have come to someone with PTSD (and she wouldn't call it that) was when my parents came to visit me in England, and we went across some pastures green when gun shots (hunting in the vicinity) took off. I'd never seen my mother like that. One might say she came close to a state of hysteria. When she was a child she fled, with her mother and siblings, on foot and cattle wagons, right across the motherland, to escape the advancing troops. Gun fire and the noise of overhead planes having some god almighty impact on her to this day. And there is nothing you - the outsider/bystander - can do much about it.

    U

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    1. As at least one of your commentators said, certain "conditions" and their names bandied about with abandon. Which, and no doubt your experience, gives those terms an inflationary "value".

      I have no idea what this means

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  28. I don't suffer from PTSD but my husband does, he was injured in an industrial accident. He was blinded in his one good eye, could no longer drive and lost his business. He was sent to a rehabilitation centre and came home one weekend to find his suitcase in the front garden and another man in his house. His wife told him he was no good to her if her wasn't earning money. Some time later when his compensation came through she went after it through the courts and won. He was too apathetic to fight.
    He still get flashbacks about the accident and cannot walk past certain types of building sites without having panic attacks.

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  29. I've had some hard times but nothing violent or traumatic enough to give me PTSD.
    I suppose I am pretty sheltered and very fortunate

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  30. I had an uncle who served in Italy and desert (NZ Division) when he came back home he never spoke of what he'd seen. He just painted huge murals 30-40, then gathered them all up an burnt them in the back yard. His way of coping I guess.

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  31. My first husband has PTSD. From a tour in Northern Ireland back in the 70s. Wonderful thing to discover on your honeymoon. All I could do was let him talk and hold on to him.

    My first delivery was terrible. I was diagnosed with a form of PTSD along with post partum depression. The sight of my newborn made me cry and whimper. Not the joys of new motherhood. To this day, the sound of a newborn crying, terrifies me.

    I've been assaulted twice at work, for no reason. Part of it is the patient population we serve. Let's leave it at, I rarely enter certain patients rooms alone.

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  32. Not true PTSD but all these years later I still find myself inwardly cringing when planes fly low over the beach, as they are landing at JFK. I find myself watching their path, until it seems safe.

    As for yesterday's near death...during one hospital stay I began bleeding badly. No nurses answered my calls [they were in an emoty room watching a music awards show]. I finally tried to crawl out to the corridor, but was too weak. I remember lying on the icy floor, thinking it was not as clean as one might wish....then I woke up in ICU having transfusions. No angels or pink clouds, just dirty linoleum for me.

    lizzy

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  33. I lived in Belfast, N. Ireland in the early 70's (during the troubles).
    Working alone one lunch hour in an old office block. Doorbell rings, I have to go down and answer the door.
    Two girls push their way in, one with a LARGE hand gun, pointed at me. She was very young, maybe 16, shaking like a leaf. I thought she would shoot me whether she wanted to or not. Other girl at the door, 2 men run in, with machine guns. They start to run up the stairs, guns go off, smoke everywhere. They run to the top of the building and then down again. Tell me I will get my head blown off if I put my head outside the door, and then they are gone. I run across the street to a bank, they call the army and the police.
    The Irish police are not nice to me because I wouldn't go to the station and look at mug shots. I said that they could remember my face as well as I could remember theirs and I didn't want to open my door at home one night and have them standing there.
    The army guys (Scottish) are really nice and understand why I won't go to the police station.
    To this day I can remember the faces of the girls and feel confident I could identify them if they looked the same as they did then.
    I still don't like hearing fireworks going off, children playing with guns or cars that backfire. Lots more to the story but I'm getting palpitations just typing this much!

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    1. I forgot to mention that on the top floor was a laundry business. Later found out it was undercover British army.

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    2. Bloody hell...hells teeth.......bloody hell

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  34. Big men have a definite advantage in the classroom, John! Many times I would've gladly taken on the odd 60-70 lbs. just so I could more easily maintain control of a room of rambunctious children!
    I think that I probably suffered from PTSD after the shooting but back then it wasn't diagnosed. I went back to my class as soon as I was discharged because I needed to count noses and see with my own eyes that my "kids" were unharmed. Not one of my students were injured and the shooter was ultimately killed by police. I'm sure the kids needed to see me just as much as I needed to see them. We sat in our classroom and cried upon meeting. Hard times.

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  35. This presidential election has been so vicious and violent that a lot of us 'normal' folk are suffering from the strain. Relentless threats and fear-mongering and hate and church-burning and voter intimidation are having a profound effect on the general psyche. I'm afraid to watch the news anymore. I wonder if it was like this in Germany when the Nazis took over.

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  36. I don't know if you can call it PTSD but for sure something has been bothering me all these years. My ex was a violent alcoholic, eventually diagnosed as bi-polar, so I had the singular privilege of being kept awake for days at a time with his ranting/violence when he was on a high. One vivid memory is of him sitting on my chest on the bed, pinning my arms down with his knees and threatening me with a broken whiskey bottle! And I kept a log of his behaviour for 6 months (to use in court if necessary) and it makes horrific reading - he was at it at least twice a week! I'm not stupid and had a job and I sure as hell didn't stay because I loved him, but when you function for years on 3 hours non-consecutive sleep a night, plus the beatings it is hard to get your act together to get the hell out of there. But I did and it has been over for 5 years (7 if you count when he buggered off to torment his skank). Despite the debt he left me with (over €250,000) I don't care - I am just so thankful to be away from him. But - and I guess this is the whole point - I can't seem to get the resentment out of my head. I can't say I hate him - I am indifferent to him - so why do I have to keep giving him space in my head! Truth be told, in some ways it was a "good thing" - weird to say that I know - because in my 50s it gave me another perspective on life and another shot at it. I guess the resentment comes more from the fact that I don't think I will ever be able to let another man close again. I hope I am wrong because I know most men are good men, but I'm not sure how to deal with those feelings. I suppose also, the fact that my oldest is getting married next year here in Switzerland has started that old knot in my stomach at the thought of the ex swanning back over here and acting like we're all good friends. I have spoken to a couple of therapists on this and I think I have it figured out, but I don't seem to be getting anywhere getting this resentment out of my head. Anna

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  37. Sorry I took so long to post this comment. Obviously, I was a bit hesitant.

    I was roughed up in the rest room of a gay bar. I won't go into the sordid details except to say I was in my early 30s, had just recently started going to such places, and wasn't careful or leery enough when opportunity seemed to present itself. The incident scared me away from the gay scene for about a year and a half, but the effect I now think went on much longer. Along with the threat of AIDS and the overwhelming homophobia of the working class, I had yet another reason to not want to be gay. Still acting as if I had a choice (which of course I don't) I went through some absurd lengths to convince myself I was really straight (more sordid details there). I eventually came to terms with being gay, but much, much too late. I trace that delay at least in part to that one act of violence.

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