A legacy of alcohol and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Case Study - Theresa F
Theresa is a recovered alcoholic with 28 years sobriety. Hard work, lots of AA meetings and a desire to succeed in sobriety and her career, aspired Theresa to be a high achiever, in spite of her dysfunctional and violent childhood living with two alcoholic parents.
Free of depression for many years, Theresa presented with reactive depression 3 months after a devastating New Year’s Eve incident.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a complex mental health issue often misunderstood by many people. Many alcohol dependent men and women suffer with PTSD, a legacy of growing up in violent homes.
Theresa’s PTSD has been dormant for many years until New Year’s Eve when she attended a dinner and one of the table guests got very drunk. The more alcohol the guest consumed, the more she vented her anger and rage targeting her absent husband. Another guest had given the woman a large photo of the husband’s face on a Mexican Piñata. The drunken woman’s plan was to smash her husband’s face at midnight.
Theresa felt trapped, powerless and nauseated. This alcohol fuelled behavior affected Theresa with flash-backs to her childhood when, as an 8 year old, she tried to stop her father smashing her mother’s face after a violent argument. Theresa relived the nightmare over and over again until she sought medical intervention for the sadness and subsequent depression brought on by one drunken woman’s thoughtless behavior.
We have no idea how people react to violence as we have not walked in their shoes. The woman’s violent anger towards her husband pushed Theresa’s emotional buttons - bringing back memories of a violent childhood. Her mother was a violent alcoholic and her father was a passive drunk. The alcohol fuelled woman on New Year’s Eve reminded Theresa of her mother who baited her drunken father until he retaliated.
An analogy of Theresa’s reactive depression can be described as"The Fire is not over when the Fire Truck Leaves!"
Repairing fire damage can involve an extensive, sometimes frustrating rehabilitation process. A fire can smoulder for a long time before it bursts into flames. If a person is trapped in a fire, they can physically survive the fire, but can be traumatised emotionally and mentally. Each time they hear a siren; each time they see a fire truck; each time they smell smoke, it triggers off feelings of fear.
The same fear happened to Theresa.
Childhood fears can smoulder like embers of a fire and often burst into flames through emotional buttons being pushed. Although we have survived childhood, many of us have been traumatized and are totally unaware that adult emotional problems in life often emanate from childhood experiences. If they are lucky enough to get help, childhood traumas are recognized as deep-seated, unresolved issues that are buried in their sub-conscious.
Not many people escape the “fires” of childhood experiences - often resulting in one or more of the following addictions:
- Food Addiction (emotional overeating)
- Alcohol Dependency
- Prescription Drugs
- Toxic Relationships (people addiction)
Do you have a fire that needs extinguishing?
My Serenity by the Sea program is unique in counselling alcoholics suffering with post traumatic stress disorder developed during their childhood living with alcoholic parents. I look at the big picture: brain chemistry (the Dopamine Neurotransmitter); Emotions (using Dialectical Behavioural Therapy); active meditation to change their perception of the real world and their self-worth; The 12 Step Program of Co-dependency Anonymous; visual aids (DVDs) to help my patients understand their disease and the mental illness associated with PTSD.
Nutrition and supplements like Tyrosine to help them focus and achieve satisfaction without reaching for the bottle. Magnesium Ultra Potent, to stabilise the electrical activity of the nervous system. I also recommend Glicemic Balance to help curb sugar cravings, sometimes a legacy from long term alcohol consumption. LivaTone Plus to support phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification pathways, ensuring optimum detoxification of toxic substances. Glutamine to support efficient brain function during the counselling process. Glutamine is an integral part of glutathione; the body’s more potent antioxidant and detoxifier.