(That’s Post Traumatic Stress DInjury – the D is silent: unfortunately the DSMv was written by a one armed martian with a sense of humour and a sadistic anti-veteran/first responder/human view of life, thought it’d be funny to call an injury a disorder. Strange what some martians will do for shits and giggles.)
Why? Wouldn’t this be the worst, most triggering topic to bring up in a group who have all been traumatized, a lot sexually? Bit like poking you all with a red hot poker or slicing off your digits one by one and then asking you to play the piano?
Would it be better that I leave you sitting alone in your head, asking these questions without any hope of getting any answers? Or privately messaging me and asking “Am I warped?” Adding this self-disgust to an already heavy load of self-disgust and loathing that you have this injury, when others prance around HQ declaring they think this PTSD thing is made up (Hello Senior Toronto Police Association and Service brass buttoned white shirts, That would be You, you lifeless buffoons). The truth is you aren’t.
Nor are you alone.
Many of you have seen horrific things. Parachuted behind lines, mission clearly outlined, failure not an option you come across a gang rape but must quietly, invisibly stand-down, do nothing. This isn’t your mission, you have to follow orders and those orders are clear. Stand-down. Stay hidden. A child. A woman. A boy. Men. How many times do you have to see these brutal acts of violence and barbarism before it injures your internal wiring? How do you go home and see your sexual partner the same again? How do you see yourself sexually the same again? Or the world?
The answer is, you can’t.
And you don’t.
Same goes for paramedics, fire fighters and cops who daily do battle with the barbarism, sordid insanity of our modern drug culture fuelled on under age sex and pornography that knows no limits. How does your brain re-adjust from that field of horror to home? The answer is, you can’t and you don’t.
So why do I open this subject up, other than the fact that I’ve been asked to so often it’s time to put my big girl pants on and give it a go?
Because we need answers and hiding is killing us. The cycle of giving drugs to ease the pain of the demons that haunt us, that then denies us the ability to feel anything including sexual attraction to our partner, followed by the frustration, guilt, loneliness, isolation and then comes the decision to simply stop taking the meds.. which will kill us… and so it goes. We can’t say “Don’t mess with your drugs” without addressing the reason people decide to go off them cold turkey: 9 times out of 10 I can guarantee the reason is sexual.
The onslaught of sexual dysfunction is easier for some reason to talk about than the converse: hyper sexuality. Isn’t that strange? The whole topic is one that screams TABOOOOOO. Leaving those with PTSDInjury alone, lost and fearful.
“Kate my husband is a [deleted to protect], what I read today in your post … it makes so much sense! His sex drive is either through the roof or when he’s on medication, non-existent. Sometimes I can see he constantly looks at women and I’m really hurt by that… I can see how sex is a chemical for him, how he needs it to feel better. I take it personally when I don’t need it as much as him. But when he’s on medication he’s dead to life. If he’s not on medication and needs sex to calm himself … he turns to porn and that hurts me even more. I don’t like women being seen as only sex objects… He’s so embarrassed by it, he hides it and only talks about [deleted to protect – but insert war/policing/fire fighting/paramedic/etc here] with his doctor. He’s so ashamed of it. I want to show him your post and maybe he will watch the discussion. I think it could really help us understand it more, we love each other… it’s just that we don’t know how to get through this.”
Since the post went out I’ve been contacted by countless wives and girlfriends of veterans, cops, fire fighters and paramedics who feel lost and confused. They love their partners and want to be there for them, but are exhausted, angry, feel betrayed and frustrated that there are no answers out there. Normal people don’t have a freaking clue unfortunately. And doctors are for the most part “normal” – I am a firm believer that the best head doctors are the ones that have lived their own story, walked through the fire and come out the other side, I just don’t see how somebody can understand trauma from a book. Or by watching a movie. It doesn’t come close to the reality.
Before the first post on Sex, PTSDInjury and Drugs, I had spoken to and been asked questions by a lot of veterans/cops/fire fighters/paramedics looking for answers. Embarrassed and ashamed. Fearful of being judged and ridiculed.
At the end of the day the brain is looking for ways to survive.
Sex gives us an endorphin hit like no other. In addition to which sex is a great distraction; if your work is so freaking depressing, the endless misery of the street, the danger and the dull mind-numbing pain of bureaucracy in services and departments, the pettiness and old boy club seen in the likes of Toronto Police Service… where else to turn but inward into a secret sexual existence that drowns out the noise?
When does it become a problem? (I had a little help here from Dr Jonathan from OPA.)
Clearly when it impacts on our identity and our relationships. When we feel that we need to hide who and what we are for fear of being expelled from our tribe. When we become so obsessed with our drug of choice (sex) it overpowers all else and when it hurts the ones we love.
Equally our inability to feel connected physically with our partner; to feel anything at all – this too is a huge problem. Feeling adrift at sea, each hour falling into another without a beginning or an end is for most of us a living death. Which brings us back to swallowing a bag of razors to save ourselves the bother of having to shave in the morning – we go cold turkey on our meds and … well … we die.
So, let’s get the dust cloth shaken on this one. Kick it out into the open and be honest. Drugs and Sex and PTSDInjury (no I’m not going to let that one drop). Big girl panties on and ready for what I think may be a roller coaster of a #ptsdchat … gulp.