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Ptsd from a death


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My dr at the mental hospital diagnosed me with this because the death of my father was very traumatic for me. It was not a traumatic death but its been 4 years and I still have flash backs to the day he passed.

My father was my best friend and he drank himself to death and I keep re-living it over and over. The dr wants me to do EMDR which my insurance doesnt cover, the hospital checked. And he wants me to do trauma therapy and grief counseling.

I got really triggered when my god father (dads best friend) had a stroke and now we are finding out he may have cancer as well.

Anyway...my question is, is it possible to get ptsd from a death. My dr and therapist say yes but I dont know

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Yes it's possible.  Traumatic Grief is real.  PTSD from a traumatic death can last for decades or a lifetime.  Grief doesn't stop at one year or two or even twenty years. Please do what your doctors tells you to do.  Grief counseling is helpful. 

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I'm really sorry for your loss Jen. 

 

It may be worth mentioning that although the 'stages of grief' are often talked about as though they are a linear process that everybody goes through, grief is actually diverse. I'm sorry that you're feeling stuck and agree that therapy would probably be helpful. An event can be very upsetting and impact your life without it necessarily meeting criteria for PTSD. Your feelings are valid and you deserve help in dealing with this no matter what diagnostic label you receive.

 

Considering you aren't sure about whether is trauma or grief, and it seems it may be difficult to access EMDR, what do you think about starting with grief therapy? That way you are receiving treatment for an issue you know you are experiencing, and it may help you narrow down if specific trauma therapy would be helpful.

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I am very sorry. I can't imagine.

 

I have a friend who has PTSD from her father dying, so it is possible. I didn't know that until I learned that she had it. I think that's totally possible though anyway. 

 

I really hope it gets better for you. That is a  terrible thing.

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There is also something called "complicated grief" which is sort of a mix of trauma and depression. It can be treated.

I'm sorry that you're suffering so much. I hope that you can find ways to make it easier.

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having an alcoholic father is traumatic, I know - I had one

dying of alcoholism is a terrible, slow trauma

 

I think you were exposed to trauma - having a parent whom you love drink themselves to death??

 

Imagine you had a child and how it would affect her if you engaged in tragic alcohol abuse, would that be traumatic?

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When I was a teenager and seeking treatment for the first time, my therapist said she though I had something like PTSD from my fathers traumatic death (brain cancer, perfect health to dead in a month), and brought up complicated grief (which I have 100% though isn't an actual disorder, is it?). She mentioned wanting to try EMDR with me, but never did, as we parted ways soon after as she deemed me healthy and happy.

(I was a stupid teenager and had declined to mention my mood lability, self harm, and anorexia to her, and had become "the world is beautiful and I am beautiful and I have saved myself and everything is so amazing and meaningful and full of love" type hypomanic).

The one thing she taught me that I think is related to EMDR is to help me sleep: cross arms over my chest, then tap my index fingers lightly one at a time on the opposite shoulder, alternating. For a while that actually did help me sleep, though I have no idea what it actually means or is even legit.

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First I am so sorry for your loss.  Everyone deals with the death of a loved one in their own time and in their own way.  

 

However, it's good to seek help when you feel stuck, or when you feel like your life is being impacted so that you cannot carry on your desired or normal activities.  The others who said a death can cause PTSD are right.  

 

A psychiatrist - - who I had originally taken my young son to see  - -  diagnosed me with PTSD a long time ago from my husband's death  (happened in 1982, 30+ years ago).  

 

I was stuck in an anger phase for a long long time; it was a suicide and he left me with two young children.     I understand being scared to grieve.  I really do.

 

I felt like if I grieved for him, cried for him, it would be like I'd forgiven him.  And I did not want to do that, then.    I eventually was able to forgive; it way many years later with the help of talk therapy (like MANY years later!  I wish I would have sought help sooner!)

 

Even though your father was your best friend, he was an alcoholic,  which makes things difficult.    It must have felt to you that on some level, he died "on purpose" since he didn't stop drinking.       I don't mean to assume anything, I'm just thinking.      

 

The doctors told me I should really try to move through the stages, however long each stage might take.      I think the same might be true for you;however you can get to acceptance.   

 

I don't know much, if anything, about EMDR since I haven't had that treatment.   But I think some form of therapy would be very helpful.

 

I wish you all the best.

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With all due respect to everyone's suffering, I have to put out that I think there is a difference in how one perceives and responds to traumas that are daily and ongoing versus traumas that are sudden and unexpected intrusions.

 

The brain responds differently with regard to sudden and unexpected traumas.

 

Complicated grief is a real thing.

 

And everyone deserves support when grieving. Especially when it's complex.

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I am sorry to hear of your loss. Your story moves me because it is very similar to mine. Yes, you can have PTSD from the death of a loved one.

 

My father also died 4 years ago very suddenly. In the past few years before his death our relationship had deteriorated a lot, partially due to him being in a very unhealthy relationship. He fell more or less out of touch with me and I was super angry at him for it. My mom asked me once if it bothered me that he never phoned or remembered my birthday and I actually said "No. he could die and it wouldn't bother me."

 

Probably the most naïve thing I ever said.

 

My dad was battling a cold for several weeks. He had a cough. And one day he coughed so hard that he broke an artery in his lungs and he bled to death. The next ay I had to go over there and clean it up because it was mid summer and really hot.

 

Aside from all the legal crap I had to do, I never really grieved. I didn't have time. I needed to focus. I just took over his life where he left off. My life got put on the shelf.

 

That summer we had turkeys and my mom always used to ask me to chop their heads off. I was like yeah, yeah I'll do it, but kept putting it off. Finally she got mad at me and I completely lost my shit, crying and freaking out. I never realized it all until that moment but I didn't want to see the blood. I did eventually go out there and do it and I was okay, but I had a hard time with blood or even someone saying the word blood. Which was a pain in the ass because I was going to university in the medical field.

 

I turned my emotions completely off for a year. My aunt said it was like I became a different person. I had to to deal with it. I had reoccurring dreams where my dad came up the driveway as I was hauling away his stuff, and in every dream I was so fuming mad at him for putting me through all this that I could have killed him again myself. I was angry with him for a very long time after he died. Now I just miss him.

 

My therapist in university helped me a lot with grief counseling and he suggested that because my dad and I left on uncertain terms so suddenly, that I ought to write him a letter telling him all the things I had to say - all the things I was angry at him for, all the things I wanted to call him out on, and just get it off my chest. And then allow myself to express how much I missed him an say goodbye.

 

Just the part with me bitching him out took 50 pages. But it seemed to work. Anoher thing tht helped me recover from it was going back to all the places me and dad used to go ad doing all the things me and dad used to do  either by myself or with new people. It was hard at first but it allowed me to make new memories and new associations instead of being stuck with the old, sad ones.

 

Things don't trigger me that much anymore. The only thing that is upsetting is when I hear my stepdad cough and cough. Like my dad he is also a heavy smoker and not in prime health... and when I hear him cough, I feel so much sorrow and dread. It's kind of selfish, but I think "I can't go through that again. I just can't." Another thing that triggers me is when I get a letter from RevCan (like the IRS in the states). When I get a letter from Revenue I get so angry that steam comes out my ears. Once they sent me a cheque for 3000 bucks - overpaid taxes or some shit - but it still ruined my day because I had to see their stupid envelope in my mailbox. It brings it all back.

 

For 4 years I couldn't decide whether I hated my dad or missed him to pieces. So I did neither, I just turned it off. It was almost like being in a fugue state. I don't remember much at all from that whole first year... I took a couple college classes and did some volunteer work in January, I remember that bit... but from about march to September that year I honestly could nnot tell you one thing that happened.

 

I hope you don't mind me sharing this story on your thread, it's just the only way I can think of to answer your question. It didn't even occur to me that I had PTSD until a couple years after it happened.

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Thank you for all your replies :)

My Dr wants me going to Al-Anon meetings as part of my grief therapy and I found one that is less than a mile from my house. Its going to be easy but it will be comforting being around those who has alcoholic or addict loved ones or who have lost a loved one to addiction

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This trick put be to sleep every night while I was deployed. It is amazing how something so very simple works so well

When I was a teenager and seeking treatment for the first time, my therapist said she though I had something like PTSD from my fathers traumatic death (brain cancer, perfect health to dead in a month), and brought up complicated grief (which I have 100% though isn't an actual disorder, is it?). She mentioned wanting to try EMDR with me, but never did, as we parted ways soon after as she deemed me healthy and happy.

(I was a stupid teenager and had declined to mention my mood lability, self harm, and anorexia to her, and had become "the world is beautiful and I am beautiful and I have saved myself and everything is so amazing and meaningful and full of love" type hypomanic).

The one thing she taught me that I think is related to EMDR is to help me sleep: cross arms over my chest, then tap my index fingers lightly one at a time on the opposite shoulder, alternating. For a while that actually did help me sleep, though I have no idea what it actually means or is even legit.

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