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Interacting with mentally unwell people:

 1 Merlo, Sat, 1st Oct '11 4:49:53 PM from the masochist chamber
*hrrrrrk*
This is something I don't have much experience with, so I'm sort of clueless as to how a more knowledgeable person would go about this (besides the blatantly obvious).

Issues in question: depression, PTSD.

Anything one should do? Anything that's a big no?

I'm also aware that people deal with trauma differently, but how much leeway for difference do I have before things get wildly implausible?
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...
Beardless
Well, as a PTSD sufferer, I can only share my personal experience, as the symptoms seem to vary a fair bit. Over the past decade since the incident in question, my personality changed a lot. I became a lot less outgoing (to the point where I no longer have any close friends), I became more prone to feeling intense negative emotions and I had frequent, vivid nightmares until I started taking fluoxetine.

Anger was a real problem for me; it was often disproportionate to the situation and very difficult to control. I became very vindictive and antisocial, and I lost a good friend because I couldn't calm myself down.

I think the worst part was the emotional fragility, though. Throughout primary and high school, I was always the kid who cried when I got hurt and got in trouble for back-talking teachers. Since the incident that traumatised me, I've done all I can to disassociate myself from everything related to it, which is why I want to get away from my family and even this country. It might seem disproportionate, but it's the only way I'll get some peace of mind.

I don't remember people treating me in a particular way, but emotional support is very important. I didn't get enough, and my PTSD nearly smothered me (i.e. I came very close to suicide). If the affected character in question doesn't like talking about it, then the way unfamiliar people treat him/her might be emotionally harmful if they're particularly unpleasant, so they need to be real tight with their friends.

Uh, that's basically all I've got. I hope you can glean something helpful from this.
I have no beard. I have no beard, and I must scream.
 3 Merlo, Sat, 1st Oct '11 6:27:03 PM from the masochist chamber
*hrrrrrk*
Thank you for sharing. That was very helpful! I'm sorry that your experience was unpleasant, I wish the best of luck to you smile

Sorry, could you be more explicit about "emotional support" if you don't mind? I'm still a little unclear on that.

edited 1st Oct '11 7:46:26 PM by Merlo

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...
Keeping in mind depression can range from 'I get home and don't want to do anything' to 'I can't get out of bed today'...

The main big no is suggesting that they 'just get over it'. I'm assuming that one was obvious though. smile

Um, depression doesn't need to have any external triggers. You can be depressed when your life is otherwise fine. (True story: I don't when I started being depressed. I got on anti-depressants when I was 21. Suddenly I had a normal range of emotions. My life is fine. Not great, but fine. I'm still depressed).

Oh, and weird thing: depression can be literally painful. Headaches, general aches and pains, etc.

Don't know how much that helps.
www.curiouslylydean.net - comics, writing, and other geeky things
 5 Ronka 87, Sat, 1st Oct '11 9:26:57 PM from the mouth of madness.
Maid of Win
Are you writing this from the perspective of someone who suffers from PTSD or depression, or someone interacting with someone with it? If the latter, what is their level of competency/interaction— are they a doctor, therapist, wife, child, friend, superior, stranger?

Someone who isn't trained to deal with these situations would probably be in the same boat as you'd be— they don't know what's "right" or "wrong" about treating and living with mental illness and are trying to cope as best they can. A trained professional would have a better understanding of what to do and not to do. If they're in-between— someone with a lot of experience but no formal education on the subject (say, a child caring for their depressed parent), they might have learned what works or doesn't work for their particular situation, but since they lack training, they may do things that seem like they're helping and really aren't.
Thanks for the all fish!
 6 Merlo, Sat, 1st Oct '11 10:04:18 PM from the masochist chamber
*hrrrrrk*
The characters in question are soldiers—let's call them Jack and Jill for simplicity. The narrator is Jill. Jack has just gotten out of a really bad situation, and is facing forced early retirement as a consequence.

Um, depression doesn't need to have any external triggers. You can be depressed when your life is otherwise fine. (True story: I don't when I started being depressed. I got on anti-depressants when I was 21. Suddenly I had a normal range of emotions. My life is fine. Not great, but fine. I'm still depressed).
I'm aware of that, yep. But still, friends and family probably would want to try not to make the situation worse. I imagine certain things would help, and certain things would not.

I'm glad to hear you're doing better smile

Oh, and weird thing: depression can be literally painful. Headaches, general aches and pains, etc.
Brings back memories.

If they're in-betweenó someone with a lot of experience but no formal education on the subject (say, a child caring for their depressed parent), they might have learned what works or doesn't work for their particular situation, but since they lack training, they may do things that seem like they're helping and really aren't.
Jill fits into this category. She's supposed to be a little socially awkward, but it'd just be implausible if she doesn't have some sort of idea of how to treat people with PTSD. I guess what I'm asking is: specifically, what're some things she would have picked up that would help, and what're some things that'd seem like they're helping but aren't?

edited 1st Oct '11 10:04:58 PM by Merlo

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...
If the PTSD's from a war situation, you'd probably be best off finding information about PTSD from specifically that. I have depression, and I can't be certain it's like this for everybody, but here are the main attributes I can tell:

  • It comes and goes. I am not literally depressed every second of every day, but every so often (maybe once every two weeks?) I feel really terrible for about half an hour to an hour. After that, it usually ends.
  • A person in a depressed episode will simultaneously not want to talk to anyone and want to talk to someone. This is particularly severe for men, who often don't tell anyone about their depression.
  • Eating chocolate helps with depressive episodes, because I think it stimulates seratonin in the brain or something.

Things that might help and might not: Distraction. Some days it might help, some days it may not.

Does help: making sure Jack has eaten well that day. Low-blood sugar makes you more depressed, and if he's one of the people who doesn't feel like eating all the time...

Also helps: exercising. Another thing no one feels like doing grin

It's also really easy to get annoyed with a depressed person, because it drags you down to. If she's not feeling well (cramps, PMS, long day at work), the idea of letting him just go to bed after dinner, or skipping dinner, or... might be very tempting.
www.curiouslylydean.net - comics, writing, and other geeky things
Beardless
Sorry, could you be more explicit about "emotional support" if you don't mind? I'm still a little unclear on that.

I mean that you need friends and family who will listen to your problems without trying to psychoanalyse you or try to get involved in all your affairs. My mother did that all the time, and it just made me frustrated. People need to offer a helping hand, not smother you with pity.

edited 1st Oct '11 11:33:01 PM by Anfingrimm

I have no beard. I have no beard, and I must scream.
 10 Ralph Crown, Sun, 2nd Oct '11 12:14:30 PM from Next Door to Nowhere
Short Hair
Two more points about PTSD. One, routine is important. Unfamiliar or unusual situations can trigger an episode, because you can't always know what is a trigger or whether you will encounter one, say, on a trip to the mall.

Two, depression will trash the schedules of victims and caregivers. If the victim has to stay in bed all day, s/he won't get much done. If the caregiver has plans for the evening, s/he may wind up with a tub of ice cream or a book instead. The caregiver's complaints do more harm than good, because they just reinforce the victim's helplessness. There is no known cure for PTSD.

edited 3rd Oct '11 6:24:35 AM by RalphCrown

Under World. It rocks!
 11 Merlo, Sun, 2nd Oct '11 4:35:02 PM from the masochist chamber
*hrrrrrk*
Eating chocolate helps with depressive episodes, because I think it stimulates seratonin in the brain or something.
So there is truth to that?? Nice.

Complaining about it does more harm than good.
Complaining on the part of the victim, the caretaker, or both?

I mean that you need friends and family who will listen to your problems without trying to psychoanalyse you or try to get involved in all your affairs. My mother did that all the time, and it just made me frustrated. People need to offer a helping hand, not smother you with pity.
So basically, offer help when asked, but don't be controlling/pretend you know what's best all the time?

What if Jack insists on doing something that may be counterproductive? In the long run would it be more harmful for Jill to be firm about not being okay with it and risking a physical fight, or going along with it?

One thing I had in mind for Jack was that he'd intentionally expose himself to triggers as a way of trying to "rewire" his response to them, with varying degrees of success (this is considered strange and masochistic behavior by everyone else). Does this sound plausible, or is it a critical failure on my part?

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...
I would recommend you check out Pat Barker's Regeneration, which is a novelization of Siegfried Sassoon's declaration against WWI. It deals explicitly with a clinic treating soldiers with PTSD, and among other things it notes that it is usually not a single event, but a prolonged exposure to violence and deprivation, that results in PTSD.
And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
Beardless
So basically, offer help when asked, but don't be controlling/pretend you know what's best all the time?

What if Jack insists on doing something that may be counterproductive? In the long run would it be more harmful for Jill to be firm about not being okay with it and risking a physical fight, or going along with it?
Yes, exactly. Sometimes, however, other people do know what's best for you. I refused to even touch anti-depressants for a long time, but when I tried it I understood why people had insisted on it.
I have no beard. I have no beard, and I must scream.
 14 jasonwill 2, Mon, 3rd Oct '11 4:37:23 AM from West Virginia
mentally unwell??!?! do you know what i did this morning missy?! i started screaming becuase i couldnt find my socks, and earlier than that i kept talking to myself frantically about

"i didnt mean to kill them, i had too!@ i had no choice! they made me do it! crazy? im not crazy! ill show you crazy, i had to kill them! i had to prove to them im not crazy!"

note: i did not kill anyone, i do not know why i say that, its like some tick when i get really bored and am alone

the worst part is i am not making any of this up. i think i do it out of boredom... hopefully.

but i do not know a lot about ptsd dear... other than nightmares and anger outbursts sometimes. also certain triggers, could be sound or smell, like burning oil or chopper blades can cause flashbacks. some will jump for bunkers or freak teh heck out, depending on whatever. nightmares and flashbacks and not being able to sleep and easily angered make for a really strong case of ptsd

edited 3rd Oct '11 4:38:07 AM by jasonwill2

as of the 2nd of Nov. has 6 weeks for a broken collar bone to heal and types 1 handed and slowly
 15 Ralph Crown, Mon, 3rd Oct '11 6:39:08 AM from Next Door to Nowhere
Short Hair
Complaining on the part of the victim, the caretaker, or both?

Sorry, see my edited first post.

One thing I had in mind for Jack was that he'd intentionally expose himself to triggers as a way of trying to "rewire" his response to them, with varying degrees of success (this is considered strange and masochistic behavior by everyone else).

Some therapists are using this strategy to desensitize patients, the same way they'd use triggers to treat a phobia. It's typically done under controlled conditions. That's a good idea, linking a masochistic streak to intentional psychological stress.

Under World. It rocks!
 16 Merlo, Mon, 3rd Oct '11 6:47:10 PM from the masochist chamber
*hrrrrrk*
^ Ah, ok, gotcha.

it notes that it is usually not a single event, but a prolonged exposure to violence and deprivation, that results in PTSD

Would several years of war and three weeks in a POW situation be prolonged enough?

also certain triggers, could be sound or smell, like burning oil or chopper blades can cause flashbacks.
I've got a couple things in mind—being unexpectedly splashed, arms and legs being touched, skin contact with metal things, the smell of cooking meat.

I'm still unsure about this question.
In the long run would it be more harmful for Jill to be firm about not being okay with [possibly counterproductive thing] and risking a physical fight, or going along with it?
Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...
"Would several years of war and three weeks in a POW situation be prolonged enough?"

I'd very much think so, although I'm not qualified to diagnose anybody wink
And better than thy stroke; why swellest thou then?
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Total posts: 17
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