On Thursday June 9th, Kirk gave us a presentation entitled; “ PTSD “
Kirk began his topic of discussion by sharing a little bit of history on PTSD ( post traumatic stress disorder)
He advised some of the most common PTSD symptoms are fatigue, tremors, being easily startled, also insomnia or nightmares, irritability, and severe anxiety. During the beginning of World War I around 1914, soldiers began to experience shell shock, which was an earlier term used for PTSD. Shell Shock was diagnosed when soldiers were unable to perform their required duties.
This shell shock became even more prevalent during the Vietnam War, and was eventually diagnosed in 1980 by the DSM3 ( diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders ) as PTSD. They defined as an anxiety disorder that reacts to severe mental distress.
Kirk went on to give us a little bit of history on the beginnings of his own PTSD. It was during junior high that Kirk began to experience some of his symptoms. He grew up with his family living in a small town, and was relatively happy. It was during this time that his family experienced a home invasion. During this frightening incident he and his family were holed up in a bedroom with the doors locked, listening to the intruders. Finally his Father became so frustrated that he bolted out of the bedroom and chased the intruders out of their home. Up to this point, Kirk had always felt safe at home and well protected. As a result of this incident, Kirk began to experience the symptoms of PTSD. After realizing that his family life at home had turned into a high stress household, Kirk began to contemplate moving out of the state to escape all of the bad memories he had as a result of the incident. It was at this point that he moved away to Texas to attend college.
Once he had graduated college, he realized he needed some help with his ongoing anxiety and depression. Eventually he ended up moving back to Omaha on 09/11. With the significance of this date about to be a part of our country’s permanent history, he also had a life changing experience happen to him. Kirk had just moved into a new apartment, and noticed a new neighbor moving in next to him, a friendly young man. Shortly after his new neighbor moved in, it was during this time Kirk started noticing a strange smell in the apartment building, and finally reported this several times to the landlord. The owners of the building brushed off the situation as meaningless and unimportant, and that maybe it was a result of someone’s cooking. After this situation went on for entirely too long, Kirk eventually found out from his landlord that his neighbor had indeed taken his own life. The landlord’s had discovered the situation, and the apartment where this gentleman lived had actually been completely gutted by this man. At the time of this incident, naturally Kirk became very bothered by what had happened in his own building, which didn’t help with his symptoms. During this time he went to visit his family in Florida, to try and get some much needed relaxation. Even when he was visiting his family, his Parents’ neighborhood seemed to be filled with the sound of constant sirens, which became very triggering to Kirk.
During this time of his life, Kirk realized he needed help to handle his PTSD. Eventually he began attending helpful support groups such as DBSA.
Kirk advised that there are several signs of PTSD, that are usually triggered by a life-threatening event. Such as;
– you may have internal reminders, such as night terrors
– if possible you may want to try and avoid external reminders, such as sirens
– watching the news can be another trigger
– changes in your mood or thinking
– fainting spells
– high anxiety
– trouble with simple tasks
Kirk also discussed several different tips for handling PTSD;
– EMDR ( eye movement desensitization and processing)
– trying grounding techniques , such as the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique for anxiety
– and of course therapy groups
Kirk’s presentation tonight showed true signs of bravery, as sharing your life story with others is not always easy. I admire him for having the courage to share his journey with us, which helps all of us learn from his life experience.