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Severe PTSD from kidnapping and extortion attempt - is there hope?

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Hi Everyone,

I recently joined this forum. I have had a couple of rough years. I was diagnosed with a mood disorder which I have largely under control, but it does make me unstable. I have alot of trauma from childhood (my country of origin was a warzone, relatives killed, my father committed suicide when I was 10, he abused my mother... anyway I worked in international finance, I started off working in investment banking 100+ hours a week (I have flashbacks from that) being torturted by sadistic bosses, however more recently I was living in an eastern European country. my driver arranged for me to be kidnapped by mafia from that country, and I was held for 2 days hostage and they demanded 100,000 euros extortion. They beat me brutally (below the head :)) and had me handcuffed to my radiator, they were armed with pistols, a machine gun, knifes, a telescope (kind of stick for beating). I finally told them I would get them their money. I went to the bank and wrote for the police to help and was able to get marked bills from the bank 3 days later and the police arrested them on the handover. I was in the local press and praised as a hero for standing up to the mafia (i don't feel like a hero, what bs...) Now they took my details back here in the US, and I sold all my property in that country (warzone of my youth). One of them escaped from prison. I was fine for 6 months afterwards, but then it hit me like a truck, i was like a soldier in the movie just stumbling my way to the emergency room inpatient (i guess ptsd combined with my mood disorder).

I have flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance. The group who kidnapped me is very unlikely to arrange an attack where I live now, but i can't relax no matter what i do, the .01% in my head is like 90%. I carry a pretty lethal knife (if i was in the south of the US,  i'd def have a 9mm (or back in the homeland)), everytime i leave my building I do checks on all sides, every time I see someone who looks like them I become hypervigilent. my back is killing me. Exercise, good diet, I can't work because my whole world view has become skewed and I just want to get away from everything and go to a deserted island. Tried 20+ meds (for mood disorder too...) did nothing except make me fat and lose my hair and make me more numb. My mood disorder worsened. I've been getting ketamine therapy which I believe also helps with the PTSD symptoms. The first year after the attack, i was in a catatonic stupor, i was basically dead inside. Recently i feel i have woken up from it (i'm sure the ketamine infusion helped), but reliving it and the anxiety are not great either... My doctor who is giving me ketamine infusions tells me there's no real treatment in his opinion except time, the other patients with PTSD spent all their lives speaking about their PTSD experience and it never got better until they came to him. That's his view. My dilemma is the following: I live in a great city for mental healthcare (nyc), but I cant afford another apartment and to live somewhere else in the city, so a part of me is like - give the shrinks a chance to do something... or I really want to move to a carribean island or costa rica or somewhere nice where I can forget it all and have no triggers but less mental healthcare...???

Any advice would be appreciated, I know my professional life is over (its very triggering as is), what to do... I'm reading a book "what doesn't kill us" and trying to find some positive growth but its hard to do... Stay strong everyone!




Edited by Wolfie
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Hi Wolfie and welcome to CrazyBoards.

  v Sucks that you've been through the ringer with everything. I'm glad that you're in a place of physical safety even though it's hard to dial back your nervous system and convince it that it doesn't need to be on high alert all the time. 

It can be a good idea to imagine that moving will solve everything. And sometimes a move is therapeutic. I have a hard time imagining that you wouldn't be overstimulated on high alert all the time being in the city. But that also reflects my bias about finding NYC completely overstimulating ALL the time.   

It sounds like you've tried a lot of meds. Have you thought about supplementing meds with specific kinds of therapy designed to treat PTSD like cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure, sensorimotor psychotherapy or some other things that might help you not just talk about the trauma, but actually process it?

I have seen people get better, not just endlessly talk about it, and I'm sad to hear your pdoc isn't on board with actually treating the PTSD with both meds and therapy, as that's what's shown to be most effective.

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Thanks knick, some part of my disorder and early childhood trauma made me very adrenalized and resilient, actually i would call my bipolar more "hyperthymic" in nature, I've really gone manic of meds only, and hypomanic at the airport and trade fairs (i think its all the lights and activity.... i was representing a client at the largest travel market in Europe in london and i talked to everyone @ every stall in about 3 hours, none of them understood anything i said LOL, my client made me have a few glasses of wine with him... ) and lithium works... i'll catch up with you on the board... :) 

Wooster: thanks for the reply, i don't know it is a very stimulating city, but i love to walk around and see people, i lived in ft Lauderdale for a few months and it was a bummer going for a walk and not seeing anyone except in cars. I liked south beach, but its too expensive for me to live there and i'm sure i'll start partying the wrong way... I made a note of your therapy recommendations, i only know of emdr and hypnosis... will ask my psychologist about this, As I have gone fully holistic (i take 16 different vitamins and supplements), ketogenic diet, work out like a madman, wear blue-light reducing glasses at night (helps fall asleep without too many meds) and get ketamine on a monthly basis (this year has been the best in 6 years), it costs ~400 dollars, and i have  very little income these days :() so i need a cheaper solution.... my psychologist said EMDR and hynopsis can "ease" symptoms but the only real therapy is time for the most part... I got frustrated, i read a VA study recently they were giving risperadol to 20,000 soldiers, 5% response. Non-risperdol non med response in the same time period: 4%. Is risperadol really worth it? Like i said, i worked in international finance, in my head all i see is someone earning $$$ or taking advantage of an easy population to take advantage of who has a hard time organizing and fighting for their rights.... We consume the largest part of health care expenses and have the worst outcomes... i write stuff like this because part of ptsd is this changed world view where everything is viewed through this dystopic prism... anyway I'm fighting it like knick said

for anyone interested here's the list, I'm waiting to get magnesium taurate which apparently doesn't cause diarrhea :) i'd like to up my fish oil dosage for 3g (its 2.4g), it tastes funny, especially when i burp, lol... as you can see this is all nice and tidy in excel LOL

Vitamin List          
    #   Vitamin Name Brand Strength Morn Even Effective
    1   Omega 3 Fish Oil Dr Tobias 300 4 4 2400
    2   Vitamin D3  Athena  10,000 1   10000
    3   Green Tea Extract Sports Research 750 1   200
    4   Super B Complex CVS (or whoever) Strong ;) 1   VARIOUS
    5   Zinc GNC 50 1   50
    6   Biotin Nature's Bounty 10000 1   10000
    7   Turmeric Doctor Recommended Supplemenents 750 1   750
    8   Magnesium Nature Made 250   1 250
    9   Vitamin C Wegmans 1000 1   1000
    10   Taurine Now Foods 1000 1   1000
    12   Melatonin Nature's Bounty 5   1 5
  Workout Supplements          
    14   Probiotic 15 strains Hyperbiotics 5B CFU 1    
    15   Protease Nature's Sunshine 400 1   400
    16   Fortify Joint Legion Various 1    
    17   Alpha GPC Peak Nootropics 300  1   300
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I'm starting CPT (cognitive processing therapy) which is one of the  ones that Wooster mentioned.  I've only just begun, so I can't vouch for it yet, but I can vouch for the fact that it exists as a way of decreasing symptoms and handling trauma.  It takes someone who's trained in it (I'm fairly sure), so that might be part of your psychologist's hesitation.  My limited understanding is that except for a pure trauma therapist, a lot of people don't cover the whole gamut.

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of the social/cognitive impacts of trauma is that it causes us to feel separate from other people. 

Finding community and finding our ways back to connection can also be really helpful.

Are you using supplements as recommended by your medical provider? I ask because I wanted to know if you're getting professional guidance from someone about all these things or picking them out on your own. It's a pretty long list, and it might be the case that each of them benefits you. But I'd hate to think you were spending a ton of money each month on supplements that may or may not actually be useful.

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