Could I Have PTSD?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

When I was a young child I was mocked a lot, but childhood bullying is not my main concern. When I was a Sophomore in High school, my grandmother moved in with my family and I (mom, dad, and I. I have no siblings.)

When she moved in I knew her reputation of hurting the feelings of my cousins. She always leaves the boys alone, but is CRUEL to the girls. I heard stories (and saw a few first hand) about her making my female cousins cry. EX: Oh, why are you wearing that? you cant pull that off… oh you’re going for seconds? Or simply telling them that their ugly and fat.

I am the youngest in my family and she never really did much to me so I wasn’t too worried about it, but since there was no one else in my house for her to feed off of, I became the meal. She put me down all the time told me all of the things I mentioned before. I would isolate myself in my room, I would love going to school because it meant that I wouldn’t see her for at least 8 hours. She caused me a lot of pain and I still cry about the aftershocks of what she said to me. Luckily, she no longer lives with us. she lived with us for about a year and a half. Now, I avoid her at all costs, and no one even knows the half of it because she would get 10 X worst when we were alone.

I find myself with very low self esteem and im quite sad most the time. I found myself here and after some research I’m determining that I think I might have PTSD. Is it possible that someone could have PTSD without experiencing some kind of physical violence?
thanks! any information would help!

A: I don’t know if you have PTSD, but I do know for certain that you have a miserable grandmother. A way to think about it is that you know directly what the cause of your anxiety is and the variety of symptoms that come from it. Let’s start there.

Sorry you had to deal with her for the time you did. But, whatever we label it, there are ways that you can begin to unhook yourself from her pathology.

The first thing I would do is write a very thorough and unfiltered letter to her that you are not going to send. Don’t mince words. Say everything that you weren’t able to say to her when she was being so hurtful. Take your time in writing this. Being able to express what was on spoken is an important vehicle for unhooking from those memories.

I would start there and see how you feel afterwards. If there is some general improvement you may want to start keeping an expressive diary where you could write the thoughts and feelings that come up about her.

See if this helps. If it does you may find that your feelings will lift. After 30 days if you don’t feel a positive shift, you may want to talk to your parents about getting some counseling. But I would try the writing first.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Jun 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Could I Have PTSD?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/06/15/could-i-have-ptsd/