When you look in the mirror and truly realize how sometimes your mind and your body don’t cooperate it can be so very frustrating. Today was one of those days for me. I am facing a difficult personal battle as I needed to arrange medical appointments, examinations, and tests. Later on in this blog post, I am going to share an article in the hopes that it will get out to the medical profession about how to treat someone who is trying to take care of their health, and is struggling with PTSD.
One of my recovery challenges has been to take personal responsiblity for my health. Years of negative thought patterns have resulted in me not caring enough to eat properly, get an adequate amount of sleep, not coping with stress properly, or to exercise on a regular basis. I have also used alcohol to self-medicate. These behaviours were very self-destructive. Once you become self-aware; the process of changing self-abuse into self-love can be a long and arduous process.
Neglecting one’s health is a lot like trying to commit a form of suicide very slowly and painfully. The loss of your life can be caused by putting yourself at higher risk for cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Abusing alcohol or drugs can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, a higher risk of contracting Hepatitis C, and many other health issues. Some women who are survivors of rape, sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse experience pelvic inflammatory disease, sexually transmitted infections, and infertility. One would think that the experience of the trauma itself should be enough on its own.
One symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is avoidance of triggers. A trigger is anything that is a reminder of a past trauma, and provokes an emotional response. Now one example of this would be a woman who was raped who will not see a gynecologist out of fear that she will have a flashback, or body memories during the exam. Now avoidance is very problematic, because the survivor’s health will be neglected if necessary tests, examinations, medical procedures, and treatment are not done.
It’s my hope that by posting this article, “Sexual Trauma: Information for Medical Providers“, that it will encourage greater awareness and compassion among medical professionals. Personally, I recently had to be examined, and I was very fortunate that I dealt with a professional who had a compassionate, caring manner. Despite her professional manner, it was still really difficult for me. Bravery means facing what frightens you the most, and moving forward despite your fears.