October 4, 2016

Trying hard to win the war within yourself

Dear Bloggers,

My wife is going through some traumatic times as she is emotional abused for almost three years in a row by two psychopathic and narcissistic persons (managers) that did everything to bring employees down that didn't fit into their profile. The company gives them a lot of freedom and it is a very sick atmosphere. A lot of former employees signed for their resignation and got a few months pay so they agreed to keep their mouth shut. My wife wasn't in the flow for leaving the company as she enjoyed what she was doing and this was against all the expectations of her manager. He was not amused with the fact that she was putting up so much resistance to keep her job. 

She kept up the fight for three years and dragged herself to work everyday. I pulled the plug in February of 2014 and she was tired and mentally so beaten up. In the last two years we have been trying to get her back on her feet with psychological help and psychiatric assistance. She has been checked on a medical scale by a neurologist and she was tested on defects by a neuro psychologist, lucky enough that there is no damage found in the brain. She is diagnosed with Complex PTSD with a panic and a anxiety disorder. Our wonderful future has been destroyed by two bastards that should be held responsible. 
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, is mostly associated with soldiers returning from war. After the horrors witnessed in such an unnatural setting, many wo/men have a difficult time returning to “normal” life, often suffering from flashbacks, panic attacks, and severe anxiety.

Contrary to popular misconceptions, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Acute Stress Disorder (or Reaction) are not typical responses to prolonged abuse. They are the outcomes of sudden exposure to severe or extreme stressors (stressful events). Yet, some victims whose life or body have been directly and unequivocally threatened by an abuser react by developing these syndromes. PTSD is, therefore, typically associated with the aftermath of physical and sexual abuse in both children and adults.
Any traumatic event can trigger it. Rape, assault, acts of physical or verbal violence, even repeated emotional abuse or the sudden split of a significant relationship, especially if abuse was involved.

Repeated abuse has long lasting pernicious and traumatic effects such as panic attacks, hyper vigilance, sleep disturbances, flashbacks (intrusive memories), suicidal ideation, and psychosomatic symptoms. The victims experience shame, depression, anxiety, embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, abandonment, and an enhanced sense of vulnerability.
My wife is rather ashamed to admit that she has experienced them all. These last few weeks have made me realize just how deep the managers have traumatized me, she said. It was my husband who noticed, actually. He said that I was exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, and he was right. How embarrassing to be experiencing PTSD because of such a short-lived work-relationship. But all of a sudden there it is.

However, this reaction doesn’t reflect her or her ability to cope with it, as much as it speaks to the depth of the abuse. The depth of the trauma caused by emotional, cruel verbal, and even narcissistic pressure abuse, not to mention the sudden change in her personality and subsequent abandonment.

The first phase of PTSD involves incapacitating and overwhelming fear. The victim feels like she has been thrust into a nightmare or a horror movie. She is rendered helpless by her own terror. She keeps re-living the experiences through recurrent and intrusive visual and auditory hallucinations (“flashbacks”) or dreams. In some flashbacks, the victim completely lapses into a dissociative state and physically re-enacts the event while being thoroughly oblivious to her whereabouts.
In an attempt to suppress this constant playback and the attendant exaggerated startle response, the victim tries to avoid all stimuli associated, however indirectly, with the traumatic event. Many develop full-scale phobias (agoraphobia, claustrophobia, fear of heights, aversion to specific animals, objects, modes of transportation, neighbourhoods, buildings, occupations, weather, and so on). My wife has somethings the other way round for example she has no more fear of heights and isn't afraid of spiders anymore. Strange how the brain works
Her fear has been so great, that an email from him throws me into a panic attack, knowing that it just contains more pain. She doesn’t read them when they come in. In fact, she does not longer know if they are coming in or not, thanks to email filters that just delete them before we will even see them.
Thank goodness for technology.

Emotional abuse, like gaslighting as well as so many other insidious forms, is hard to recognize and even harder to prove. Let me first of all explain the gaslighting effect: “Gaslighting is an insidious form of emotional abuse and manipulation that is difficult to recognize and even harder to break free from. That’s because it plays into one of our worst fears – of being abandoned – and many of our deepest needs: to be understood, appreciated, and loved. The abuser is usually a very insecure person. He has a need to put others down in an attempt to make himself feel better. He must be seen as right at all times.” Often, the only indication that your partner is causing emotional damage is to trust yourself and how you feel.
  • Are you asking yourself if you’re crazy?
  • Are you questioning reality?
  • Do you feel blamed for everything in the relationship?
  • Do you feel unsafe to talk with your partner about anything? 

Certainly not all charming people are predators or abusive, but it is something of which to take note, especially if they are particularly charming. Please, please look closer, or perhaps, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Find out about their past relationships. How many? How did they end? Do they take responsibility for their actions? Their words? Are they relatively consistent in their words/actions?
indication: They don’t take responsibility for their own actions.
Please believe me when I say that these actions are insidious. I mean it. They are so subtle and often covered up by grand gestures of love and excessive affection. It is very intoxicating and convincing, but beneath it all there might be a constant assault on your sense of self through gaslighting and other forms of covert abuse.

The first step is recognizing abuse as abuse. One very surprising thing I learned about this over the past few weeks is that some types of emotional abuse feel like love. Another reason the trauma is so deep: it’s not just the damage , but it is unhealed damage from a lifetime of emotional abuse.

Research PTSD and Emotional Abuse. If you are exhibiting any of the signs, you might be trapped in a betrayal or trauma bond with the abuser. This makes it even harder to get away and heal.

Let us all learn how to protect ourselves from such people, for in this society, there is no other recourse. No way to prove it. No way to make them accountable for the damage they cause. Our only hope of defense against this type of abuse is to recognize the danger early, reinforce our armor, and get away before a trauma bond can be created. Slowly we start with counseling. To me it’s an interesting one, and it might be helpful to you, reading this blog, as it shows how one is in so much denial at first because of the shock and disbelieve, and how, if you commit to healing, you can uncover some pretty horrific things and extensive PTSD.

My wife quotes: “I might never be working again and damaged for life. Still, I’d rather know, accept, and heal than to fall into the same trap with another predator”.
Let's hope the future brings better times.

The Old Sailor,