PTSD Flare ups

PTSD flare ups are terrible, but I’m dealing with it. My son is dealing with it in a different way. Tomorrow will be his hardest day. This whole week has been my hardest. Sometimes, when a person thinks they’ve made huge leaps and strides in progress, there are still flare ups. Someone with PTSD knows they have come a long way in their progress if they can talk about it. It doesn’t mean the event is not as traumatic, but it does mean the brain has accepted a new neurological path to deal with it. The new path could be better or worse.

What can trigger a flare up?

It could be the weather. 2 years ago today, it was raining on this same day, Oct 19th.

It could be a song on the radio that was playing, or something on TV, a smell, or anything really.

What occurs during a flare up?

Many of the same emotions associated with the traumatic event are experienced again in the mind.

Mine is anger.

What does a person with PTSD do during a flare up?

Each person experiences PTSD in different ways. Therefore each persons reaction during a flare up could vary drastically.

I close the door on the world, crawl into bed with my boys, & just exist. That worked in the past, but now that they are older, it’s not cool to huddle round mom. I’m supposed to huddle round them. So…I will. I think I’ll take my anger out on the zombies in their video games.

Why experience anger? Why not depression or sadness?

Anger is an emotion that can be released during a sense of loss, hopelessness, helplessness, or could be a reaction to others misunderstanding of the circumstance.

I am going to lay my anger out in hopes that it may benefit someone else dealing with PTSD. Dealing with anger is healthy. Facing it head on is better. Holding it back, repressing it, or just rushing it to the back of your mind is what becomes detrimental to your health. What you read below I’ve undergone therapy for and do not have the rage now that I once did. This is the “I’m just angry/miffed” version with ALL rage behind me now (thank God).

I’m angry at the surgeon for removing a large unidentified mass from Nick’s body in June 2009 during a simple umbilical hernia surgery…and NOT telling us about it.

I’m angry because that @ss could have biopsied the mass THEN, but DIDN’T tell us about removing it, that it was present or that he listed in the medical chart it had to be cut out from its existing mass.

I’m angry because this surgeon, Dr Kent, was so highly recommended by our primary care Dr (which I love and trust deeply) was a Jerk-off when he told us Nick had cancer.

I’m angry because that sh1t face little man couldn’t face us with dignity and break the news to us….he processed us like just another number. “Hello Mr. & Mrs. Bruner. How ya’? Test results are back and yeah…you have cancer. Sorry ’bout that.”

I’m angry that I worried about my job so badly, I organized family to come from miles away to sit with him a few hours a day so I could work. It was at his request, but still…I am angry about it!

I’m angry that I worked long hours and extra days for too long and lost so such of the small amount of time I had with him.

I’m angry that I had enough dumb luck to reach a brand new employee at Knoxville 911 when I called for help!

I’m angry that the new employee said, “Ma’am if you want me to help you, you are going to have to go somewhere quiet so I can hear you.”  I yelled back, “THAT’S HIM! HE’S MAKING THAT NOISE! HE’S TRYING TO BREATH! PLEASE HELP ME!”

I’m angry that the untrained employee at Knoxville 911 couldn’t help me because he was looking up a script to read to me.

I’m angry I had to say my address 20 times and then finally throw the phone to my oldest son. “Talk to this idiot“, I said.

I’m angry this affected my oldest son. I’m angry he had to help me lower his father to the floor so I could do CPR.

I’m angry because the fine outstanding folks at Rural/Metro Of East Tennessee took over 30 minutes to show up.

I’m angry that when they finally made their appearance, they drug their feet, moved slowly, and didn’t even attempt to resuscitate Nick for 10 minutes after they got here.

I’m angry that they had no professionalism in the least!

I’m angry that the “investigation” of the incident by Rural/Metro Of East Tennessee was swept under the rug and dropped with no answers, no replies, nothing.

I’m angry that my children cleaned up the materials left behind by the Rural/Metro Of East Tennessee workers. Why did my children have to touch needles? I don’t remember what I was doing when they cleaned all that up or where I was.

I’m angry that the employees from Rural/Metro Of East Tennessee that were in my home, drug Nick on the floor by his feet. I’m angry that they strapped him on a gurney,  took him out the door, loaded him in the ambulance and did not answer my question UNTIL I smacked one of them on the back of the head. “Where are you takings my husband?”

I’m angry that the stupid chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital wouldn’t GO AWAY. I told him nicely I knew his job, had performed it before myself, but that it would be better if he just left me alone. He followed me, followed me, followed me….until I screamed “I’M NOT CATHOLIC. GO AWAY LITTLE MAN!”  That, I have always felt bad for. I know he just wanted to help, but I asked him several times to just leave me be 🙁

I’m angry that I still carry this anger!!!!

I share this, my anger associated with my PTSD, with you bravely.  I am on a recovery track. Talking about what traumatized the victim is part 1. If you are experiencing PTSD, don’t be afraid to talk about it. It’s all part of PTSD flare ups.

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  1. Thank you for this post even though your words made me cry. Your pain and frustration are palpable and reach across the years and through the computer screen, so it was lovely to read further down to the comments and see that you are healing and have found sources of continuing joy in your life. Both my husband and I also suffer occasionally from PTSD though from a completely different perspective – two and a half years ago our son was born by emergency C-section without anesthetic. Although we all survived the ordeal and my son is healthy I still occasionally have flashbacks and my husband has nightmares as he was sure at the time that I was going to die on the operating table. It has taken me a long time to realise it is ok for me to still be angry that the surgeon did not give the anethetist the time to replace my failed spinal block – my baby was stuck and unable to enter the birth canal but not distressed so there was no need for the hurry, she just wanted to go home and I was her last surgery. It is ok for me to be angry that she didn’t believe I could feel her knife until she had cut too deep to stop (like my scream wasn’t a good enough indication), and it is ok for me to still be angry that she didn’t read my medical history before starting the operation and so it took 2 transfusions and 4 hours to put me back together.
    Thank you for this post also for sharing with others that they are not alone in feeling that rage and impotence for a situation that they can’t change, I am only just beginning to share my story and I find it gives me strength to read of others who have managed to not let their experience ruin them.

    • Thank you for your comments Toni. You have truly lived through deep tragedy & horror. I wanted to cry just reading your brief comments dear. I feel for you 🙁 You are a warrior not just a trooper. 🙂

      I stopped by your blog again and I would venture to say that you are a super-mum, dedicated in all forms of protection!

  2. I don’t even have words to explain how much I related to this post- I see that it is from a few years ago, and I hope that your pain has decreased with time, but I know that these things linger. I lost my (still young) parents to cancer within 16 months of each other, and I can entirely relate to your experiences and trauma. My thoughts are with you, and thank you for sharing and by doing so, letting the rest of know that we are less alone.

    • Thank you Lisa. I’ve healed a great deal & even recently remarried in January this year. The events of my deceased husband’s death still haunt me, but the healing process is a priceless reminder of how precious every day truly is. Blessing.

  3. I felt your words as if I was living them. The negligent performance of those individuals placed in critical care jobs/positions is infuriating and maddening. Doctors take an oath to do no harm and yet somehow forget how that relates in a real life situation… Someone should have been supervising that operator… The lack of intellegence, awareness, empathy and skilled care in this society is jaw dropping.

    I too am struggling to overcome PTSD, the anger, the rage, the exhausting grief that I have buried. Some days are good and I’m grateful. Some days my heart races and squeezes in my chest and I try not to cry because I am in public. My fight or flight responses are kicking in below the surface and I just have to breathe through it till I can regain some sense of inner calm or settling.

    My question is “how to channel this energy in order to overcome it?” or do we just learn to live with it? How does one overcome such a traumatic experience? We are changed at the core of our beingness. We take on a new definition. We were thrust into a paradigm shift and every cell of our body knows it.
    so now what?
    I search for answers to find i have become a part of a community of survivors. I am not alone. Even though i might feel isolated in my experience.
    I am sorry for your tragic loss. I am sorry for my own. By reading your words, I am encouraged to believe I will somehow rise above this condition and be better for it. Life takes on a deeper meaning. I cry easier , I stand up for what’s right or wrong with impulse and it surprises the heck out of me. I am monstrously protective of the ones I love. I no longer put Doctors on a pedestal. I hold others accountable. Life has taken on a deeper meaning because of my trauma.

    A part of my experience remains fresh in my being. I believe the result has altered my immune system and caused it to be over active. So now I have environmental and food allergies. I believe I’ve brought it on my “self” due to coping with Post Traumatic Stress.

    I am making attempts to step through to the other side. Perhaps writing this is a part of it. Giving a voice to that which has no voice. That which is stored in the depths of my brain and reaches out through my physiology with a numbing ache. If I give it a voice perhaps it will serve to help someone else. Choking this pain in turn chokes our existence… On many levels.

    Today I will share, deconstruct and construct. Find a way to explain, release and give definition to life after trauma and loss and the rage that follows. Find a way to be calm inside again. Find a way to forgive myself. The hardest for me will be forgiving those whom my anger is directed… That will deserve some heavy duty thought. The consolation is in my willingness to try.
    Thank you for sharing your experience. It struck a chord in me and I felt compelled to write you.
    I wish you love and healing.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Thank you for your comments RJ. I can feel the energy in your words. You are healing. I can feel it, read it, sense it.
      If you ever need someone to talk to, I will make myself available for you. Email me at or reach out to me through any social media outlet listed on my blog. I probably check Facebook more than the others right now though.
      Writing is therapeutic and is a wonderful healing agent for many. Your words, new thoughts, new ears to hear with, new eyes you see the world with can bring reason to those who have not developed compassion for those who’ve been shell=shocked or have no idea how to help a loved one that has been.

      I can related to the need for flight & tightened chest, plus pounding in my ears, blood pressure (which has NEVER been an issue) soaring off the charts, heart pounding so hard I thought I would die, and the unavoidable “Destroy” siren going off in my head when I was near some people. There were 2 people in my life that do not know how close they came to be hospitalized before my doctor finally medicated me for a year to control my rage against them. Those were bad people that will pay one day for their actions.
      I was and am now, a peace-maker, gentle, and not aggressive. Miracles do happen…I promise 🙂

      As for the anger, it was the hardest of all things for me to let go. Anger is dangerous. If it is not released, it can slowly consume a person just as a honeysuckle bush will take over a landscape in just one season. Once it has consumed a person, it is very difficult to release and our brains must be retrained to process even the smallest set backs so we don’t implode or explode on a loved one. I took up kick boxing to release mine and man, did it ever feel good to kick the crap out of that punching bag every day!!

      I had God’s love to be my saving grace and at times I screamed at him. Some said it was brave, some said it was dumb. I said he’s my father and best friend, so he understood 🙂

      Please do not be silent. Share with others to strengthen yourself and others.

  4. Huggs dear lady. I am not sure how to respond, but I feel like I want to respond in some way. I hope it is the right words. One of the things I have realized over many years of study is that the opposite of love is not hate; it is fear. In this case, fear, we are not in control, or the control of our life has been taken away from us. It is amazing to me that the people you dealt with have become numb to other’s feelings in the process of doing their job. (Of course – I know nothing about that!! 😉 ) If it helps, think on how what they did effectively took away or bypassed your control. We all want control and we all want life to be safe. Anger can be the result of not feeling safe.
    You know you are one of my favorite people, and I hope you and yours are blessed with the “peace that passeth all understanding.” May you be blessed with the ability to forgive all of the “others”, …each other and, most of all, youself. You could not help what happened, and so be gentle with yourself and forgive. True forgiveness comes when you learn to forgive yourself. You have been forgiven; now forgive.

    • Thank you Ginger. Your words are kind and true. Anger comes from fear of losing control and many other things as well.
      I’m working on forgiveness and amazingly enough, after I actually printed my anger, a great deal of it left me 🙂
      Thank you again wise one 🙂

  5. (((((hugs))))) to you , my friend. Know that you are not alone, and that the struggles you are having, others have had and continue to have. You serve a mighty and powerful God, who knows and understands every corner and crevice. May He hold you up just a little bit higher during the coming week, even while He shields and protects you and yours. I’ve always loved Psalms 91 and refer to it often.
    Love you bunches and gobbies : )

    • Thank you Christine. I love you!!! You have always inspired me with your wit, humor, and the fact that you still haven’t pulled your hair out in life also 🙂 I will reach out to Christ for support. Jesus is always my port in every storm.

  6. for many reasons this is one of the most profound pieces of writing that i have ever read. i find myself completely absorbed within the very personal experiences that you recount whilst being exposed constantly to flashes of memory from my own past that have something somehow in common with each powerfully moving aspect of your story.
    thank you for sharing this.

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