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1st Thought of Pain

Trauma and Pain (PTSD)

Author:  Chuck Prinzen Jr.


I have been asked numerous times how do I know that I have PTSD.  I have not been in a war, I have not been a medical responder, nor was I in law enforcement?  Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

Age, it seems, allows you to develop a much better understanding of the past and the future. The nightmares that I have endured for the past sixty years are similar to a scar that will never heal, no matter what you do.  The scars of childhood trauma manifested into PTSD for me as a teenager and young adult.  My coping mechanism for these nightmares is rather awkward, but it works for me.  I think of my dreams  as a television with unlimited channels.  Sometimes the channel changes fast, sometimes slow, the variability here is the level of violence found on that channel.  Unfortunately to change channels I always have to go through a specific memory, a terrible past situation that this television set always reverts to.  This is channel 3 and here is the story …

… at the age of three I was living with my mother and stepfather in a two story home built in the 1950’s.  We occupied the lower level and my grandmother had the upper level.  I could not tell you today which family side grandma (one of three) belonged to but none the less that is the way it was.  When things would go bad, (the beatings) I was passed onto one of my three grandmas’.  Depending on which one was available.  One particular evening my stepfather Cal was completing a diaper change on me, he asked if I had to go potty, I said “no”.  We’ll, bad things happened, I accidently peed on him and his anger trigger button was pushed. 

Unfortunately Cal and I were home alone while my mother was at work.  I cannot recall what “object” was used to inflict the pain, I have had them all.  In a frantic mode I remember yelling “no, no, no,” I just knew what was about to happen.  Cal was swearing viciously while grabbing whatever limb he could for control while inflicting pain on other parts of my body.  My screams were loud enough that my grandmother heard them through the floorboards prompting a call to the police for help.  When the police arrived they found me in my bed covered with blankets, this was my physiological way of building a shield around me so I could hide.  One of the policeman removed the blankets to find a severely beaten and damaged child, I can only imagine him crying at what he saw. 

Cal was led away in handcuffs as my mother hurried home from work just to be interviewed by child protective services.  A short time later I was taken away to a safe place while my mother yelled and cried as she was deemed unfit to parent me …. 

This is my channel 3.  I do not have to remain on this channel for a very long period of time but I will always know that it is there.  Find your own way to avoid these channels of abuse, find the channel that can help you recover.  By simply changing that channel ….  all you have to do is to wake up from the nightmare.