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Fenika
03-08-2008, 10:00 PM
This came up last night as I was trying to edit- My MC wakes up and finds herself not in the hands of her captors, but safe and with friends. She did initiate her escape, but then went unconscious just as it seemed she'd failed to get away.

So I've read about post post traumatic stress, but its fairly broad and I want to know how she'd react immediately after (and for the next day or so as the knowledge settled in). I figure she won't be talking or communicating much, as she stopped speaking to her torturers.... But would she be more likely to be jumpy/twitchy or withdrawn from things going on around her (ie- sit passively while her ex-bf touched her face)?

Cheers,
Christina

How2writer
03-08-2008, 11:22 PM
Everyone is different. In my case I was in a functioning fugue state for several years. I could function to some degree, but slowly. I was always looking over my shoulder; sounds bothered me. I couldn't listen to music for about 3 years because it was too much stimuli to bear. I couldn't read a one page article in a magazine because it took too much effort to focus for that long. (I normally love reading.) My tolerance for frustration was extremely low and I'm normally a person capable of finding multiple solutions quickly. I was in panic state if someone knocked on my door. I was often short-tempered where normally I am quiet and calm.

So I would say not only does it depend on the person and the traumatic event, but also that the person could be in and out of different states: changeable. And that can be frustrating to those around them.

archetypewriting
03-10-2008, 06:26 AM
Hi Christina,

I'm a psychologist, PTSD is one of my specialties, so we'll see what I can do here to help. :)

Do you mean she actually lost consciousness after escaping, or that she just doesn't remember the escape?

If she just doesn't remember it and was still awake, she dissociated, which means she experienced a split in consciousness that she's now locked away in a different part of memory. (A fugue, to give a formal definition to how2write's experience, is a dissociative state in which someone travels away from home--the travel is crucial for diagnostic purposes--and takes on a partial or new identity. After they return to their "original" life, they may or may not remember who they were and what they did while they were in their "second" life. Obviously others may tell them what they did, but they may not actually recall. Fugues don't usually last very long, thanks to credit cards and ss#s and the like, which force you to face your identity or at least tend to land you back home.)

PTSD-type symptoms are very, very common immediately after a trauma, and they're actually called "acute stress" reactions unless they last a month or more after the trauma.

PTSD is caused by the brain going into fight-or-flight overdrive in an attempt to keep the person safe in case the danger is still around. So imagine how your MC would be reacting if she were still in her captors' grip, and then keep her reacting that way. Would she be having nightmares? Jumping at every sound? Recoiling from touch?

Symptoms fall into 3 categories:

hyperarousal - the body is revved up, in a constant state of readiness to fight or flee -- that means the person is irritable, jumpy, has trouble sleeping, etc. The ongoing anxiety makes some people say they feel like they're "on the ceiling" or like they could "come out of [their] skin."
intrusive - the trauma keeps coming back (intruding on the person's life) in nightmares, flashbacks, panic, etc.
avoidance - the person tries to avoid anything that will trigger the intrusive symptoms and/or panic reactions. Since darn near anything that reminds the person of the trauma -- from the quality of the light to little sounds to smells and touches -- will set the already-hyperaroused system into a panic state, the person will typically avoid more and more and more things over time.So I think your MC would be more likely to be jumpy, twitchy, irritable, and afraid, especially if she got herself out of the situation. She'd be constantly prepped to have to rescue herself again. Like the knowledge that she's safe hasn't caught up with her yet.

If her symptoms go away after a few days, she has struggled with "acute stress" rather than formal PTSD, which is, as I mentioned above, a long-term change to the brain and body chemistry.

If you want more specific information on what happens to the brain, I can give you that, but from your question it doesn't sound like you need quite that much info. ;) You may also find this article (it's not too long) on my website helpful -- it touches on the brain chemistry info: http://archetypewriting.com/articles/PTSD.htm Let me know if I missed anything or can help any more!

Carolyn

Fenika
03-10-2008, 07:36 AM
:Jaw: wow, that was incredibly helpful! Thank you Writing and Writer.

The idea of being changeable definitely applies to what I have in mind for my MC, so I will definitely use that.

Yes, my MC actually went unconscious during the escape. And yeah, acute stress sounds about right. I will go look at that article. :)

Cheers!
Christina

SupplyDragon
04-23-2008, 05:52 PM
I have PTSD and Arche up there has it about right on the nuts...

I currently experience all three of her types due to my combat experiences in Iraq. I've been home for nearly two years now and I still jump at noises and sleep is limited and sparadic. Something to do with the Ceretonin levels in my brain chemistry. (I'm guessing thats one of the things mentioned in her article)

Also, I really dont care for fireworks anymore. Especially if I can smell the smoke.

Scents are the worst things for me as far as causing flash-backs. But, like she said, everyone is different. Hope this helps!

Fenika
04-24-2008, 05:04 AM
Thanks Dragon. Your post is well timed as I am reviewing my PTSD/acute stress section now.

And thank you again to everyone that posted/pm'ed.

Cheers,
Christina

Vanatru
05-09-2008, 08:14 AM
I have PTSD and Arche up there has it about right on the nuts...

I currently experience all three of her types due to my combat experiences in Iraq. I've been home for nearly two years now and I still jump at noises and sleep is limited and sparadic. Something to do with the Ceretonin levels in my brain chemistry. (I'm guessing thats one of the things mentioned in her article)

Also, I really dont care for fireworks anymore. Especially if I can smell the smoke.

Scents are the worst things for me as far as causing flash-backs. But, like she said, everyone is different. Hope this helps!

Don't forget nail guns.

I was walking out of the gym and some roofers nearby started popping off with that thing and I didn't know whether to hit dirt or freeze.

Transitions from the in country to the real world suck.

I still find it hard to believe when my wife tells me I used to get up in the middle of the night at the slightest sound and start talking to my squaddies and start moving through the house looking for badguys. Never remembered a think the next morning. And that was as current as...........day before yesterday.

Joy.