March 16, 2011

Secondary PTSD and PTSD in Family Members

From **Wife of a Wounded Marine** by Karie -
I remember being at Bethesda Naval Hospital the morning after my husband overdosed the first time. I hadn't slept other than the small amount I had had before I found him dieing next to me. After a night of panic, vomit covered CPR, following ambulances, full blown panic attacks, and being yelled at by my recently revived husband for, "Overreacting and calling 911", I had had it. I can honestly say at that point I felt as if the world was against me - I couldn't think straight, I was "done".

I can't remember exactly what I was doing but one of the Navy relief nurses pulled me aside and asked if I was doing ok. I started telling her how I felt. How I had been feeling. She said, "Sweetie, you have secondary PTSD. I wouldn't doubt it if you have full blown PTSD." I had never heard this term, "Secondary PTSD", before and this was a good two, maybe three (My sense of time is shot) years after we had been in the hospital. She explained it to me a little. She said when you are around someone with PTSD for so long and you are their caregiver you start to mirror them. The more she described it, the more familitar it sounded. I had been having horrid nightmares - sometimes even about war. My anger had gotten much worse. I was having horrible panic attacks. I was depressed. The smallest things seemed overwhelming to me. My memory was getting worse and worse. I was gaining weight at a ridiculous rate. I even had abnormal reactions to loud noises or anything that surprised me.

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