Dealing With Fear, Anxiety, and PTSD

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Approximately 6 years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD after being pressured to undergo and abortion at 20 weeks gestation by my now ex husband. He threatened to take away my two other children, or kill me, and repeatedly drove me to abortion clinics. They have you speak to a counselor prior to undergoing the procedure, I would say no, and he would just drive me to another abortion clinic the next week. Finally I underwent the procedure, I was overcome by his constant threats. A few days later, as I was recovering from the procedure, I was overcome by guilt and grief for my baby, and I attempted suicide. After a few days in the pscych ward, my then husbands signed me out, telling them I would be in his care. I didn’t undergo any therapy at the time, I was sort of just speechless, could not verbally deal with what happened at all. Instead, a doctor put me on what I think was Celexa, which I remained on for about a year before weaning myself off of it. I never received additional treatment or therapy after leaving the hospital.

Years have passed, and 4 lawyers later I am finally divorced. I have managed to hold myself together enough to progress in my career, finish school, and by my first home for myself and my two children. However, since my divorce was finalized a couple of years after the incident, I have not been unable to maintain a dating relationship with anyone for more than a couple of months, and now I haven’t even had a date in over a year. Lately, I have been isolating myself from friends and family. I don’t feel like going out or socializing. Even socializing at work is painful for me. I feel awkward and ugly and just disconnected. It seems to be getting worse lately. I’m also increasingly jumpy and fearful, at any loud or sudden noise or movement. I can’ even watch a clip from a scary movie, and recently watched a cartoon movie with my kids and kept getting startled! I don’t want to be a fraidy cat or a socially inept, and alone forever. I really would like to date people, but I’m just too shy to talk to anyone that shows interest. I want my kids to grow up with a healthy, normal parent, I don’t want them to have any emotional problems from having such a weird mother. I know it’s going back quite a few years, but I keep thinking I should talk to someone about the whole issue that caused the PTSD, but at the same time, I don’t want to dig up old wounds,I cried just writing this. But my question is, how do I pick up and move forward, and fix all these horrible personality quirks I’ve developed?

A. Counseling could be very beneficial for you. I understand that much of your past is difficult to speak about. Ironically, that is precisely why counseling would be good for you.

You experienced trauma in your past relationship. It makes sense that you are now having trouble with the prospect of new and future relationships. You may also be experiencing depression symptoms. Your desire to isolate may be a sign of depression. The fact that you feel “awkward, ugly and disconnected” may be another sign. Feeling disconnected could also be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The fact that you are easily startled may also be indicative of PTSD.

In your letter, you provided a logical rationale for why you should attend treatment. “I want my kids to grow up with a healthy, normal parent, I don’t want them to have any emotional problems from having such a weird mother.” Children see their parents as role models. They often learn how to behave based on how they see their parents behave. If a parent has depression, their children may be more likely to experience it at some point in their lives compared to children whose parents do not have the disorder. If you would like to read more about depression and its effect on children, please click here.

Counseling may be difficult but it is the right course of action. You’ve experienced significant trauma in your life. These experiences need to be dealt with for the purpose of improving the quality of your life and increasing your chances of a healthy relationship in the future. It is the right thing to do. It is also the responsible choice and it can help you immensely.

Lastly, one very important quality to note is your resiliency. Despite an unhappy and abusive marriage, you managed to continue your career, finish your education and purchase a home for your family. Those are major life accomplishments. You’ve done very well despite a difficult history. Now you are faced with another challenge in your life. This time, you may need assistance and support and that is why I am recommending therapy. Here is a link to Psychology Today. It may be able to help you locate a therapist in your community. Thanks for your question. I wish you well.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Dealing With Fear, Anxiety, and PTSD. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/04/30/dealing-with-fear-anxiety-and-ptsd/