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I May Have Been Traumatized as a Child; Should I Go Get Help?

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From a teen in the U.S.: I will try my best to get all of this stuff out in a condensed manner. Contextually, I may have been traumatized during my 3rd grade school year. I remember the incident unusually well, and can recall definite features 8 years after the fact. I had gotten into an argument with this one kid. In the midst of this argument I had dragged another guy into it (so-to-speak). All-in-all I was harassing the guy, and I said some really awful things to him. That much, I feel guilty for.

However, the next morning the guy I (essentially) bullied rightly told on me, and this escalated into a conversation outside a computer lab (in the hall). My teacher asked the three of us what was going on, and it was basically laid out. Me and the argument guy laid out our points against each other, and about halfway through the conversation the third guy was excused to go into the lab. This is where things got bad.

The teacher was invariably making me nervous. This manifested itself into (possibly) a nudge into the other guy via the shakes (not to mention I move around quite a bit). The teacher accused me of pushing the other guy, to which I refused (I did not intentionally push him). The teacher then got in my face, and low-key threatened that if I did not stop this “behavior” I would go to the principal’s office. Her eyes were deadlocked with mine, and her tone (as I remember it) was venomous. I yielded, despite the fact that I being honest.

When I got into the car that day, I did not tell my dad about the incident. I wouldn’t tell anyone about this for the next eight years (in fact, you’re seconded only to my former employer in this knowledge). And yet, despite the passage of time, I have been afflicted.

I have had a string of panic attacks since the incident, and all of them have two common attributes; a woman getting in my face and speaking in a accusatory or annoyed tone. Each time I lose composure and cry. Each time it revises memories of what occurred, and those memories leave me in despair. It has happened at school and at work. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of being embarrassed. I ask you: does this sound like PTSD? Should I get help?

I May Have Been Traumatized as a Child; Should I Go Get Help?

Answered by on -


According to the DSM5, the first criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD is that “The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence”. It’s a stretch to consider a threat to be sent to the principal as meeting that criteria. That being said, some kids are so sensitive and/or anxious, that their reactions to stressful situations are unusually extreme. It seems that you are by temperament an anxious person. For that reason, it’s possible that the teacher’s behavior was traumatizing to you.

It sounds to me that you continue to be anxious. It could be that you latched onto the incident from so many years ago as a way to make sense of your anxiety. It could also be that you haven’t yet figured out a way to navigate conflict with women and that triggers memories from then.

In my opinion, you’ve suffered with anxiety and the fallout from that incident much too long. You are understandably sick of it. You said that you are often in despair. Regardless of whether an assessment would determine an official diagnosis of PTSD, you are in emotional pain. That is reason enough to get some help.

A mental health professional will be able to determine a diagnosis, of course. But far more important than a label is that counseling will help you learn new skills for managing your emotions and for dealing with stressful interactions with people. You are in your teens. Working these issues through now will help you now and in the future. You deserve to have a life without despair.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I May Have Been Traumatized as a Child; Should I Go Get Help?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I May Have Been Traumatized as a Child; Should I Go Get Help?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 28 Sep 2018 (Originally: 27 Sep 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 28 Sep 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.