Discussions By Condition: Mental conditions

PTSD-like symptoms from a trauma I didn't witness?

Posted In: Mental conditions 1 Replies
  • Posted By: MissPickwickian
  • April 14, 2009
  • 07:51 AM

I am seventeen years old. I have two parents and two stepparents; my home life is relatively stable. I have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism, and a few comorbid psychiatric problems. I take Prozac and Wellbutrin. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome.

I was doing better than I ever had until a few weeks ago, when I started throwing tantrums at school. It's sort of embarrassing: every time I hear someone express a conservative political point of view--especially one that relates to guns--I just blow up. My own political views are moderate and I am naturally polite and rational; this has come absolutely out of nowhere.

The nightmares are also a new phenomenon. They are highly hallucinatory and involve being lost or chased. They make me wet the bed.

I can't stand to hear anything that sounds remotely like a gunshot. This includes fireworks, cars backfiring, doors slamming, and little boys making warplay noises. It drives me crazy! I also can't go back to church because that's where IT happened.

IT was a mass shooting that happened a year ago. A crazy man driven by his hatred of the "liberal movement" walked into my Unitarian church with a hunting rifle and opened fire, killing two and wounding seven. My best friend's foster father died instantly after throwing himself into the line of fire to save a group of children (don't be a hero! Don't be a hero!) I was supposed to be there that Sunday; my aforementioned best friend had invited me to see him in the church play. I was too lazy to go. So I didn't witness the actual shooting.

I helped my friend shop for funeral attire and went to the memorials. I wrote a memoir piece about healing. Everything seemed to be okay with me psychologically. I mean, I wasn't even there!

I seem to be having some sort of delayed reaction with the following features:
1. Overpowering aversion to guns
2. Unfair, irrational prejudice against all conservatives (the shooter was a conservative nut job) that causes school disturbances
3. Nightmares
4. Guilt
5. Poems with titles like "The Hurting Sanctuary", "Rage", and "The Sunday I Stayed Home".
6. Short stories about angst-ridden Holocaust survivors
7. Occasional thoughts of suicide
8. Inability to participate in church community because it "hurts"
9. Guilt
10. Guilt
11. Termination of friendships that remind me of the event; avoidance of conversations where the event might be mentioned

Can you even GET post-traumatic stress disorder from a traumatic event you did not actually witness? Is that stupid? Am I too sensitive?

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