Bethany Johnson*, a 25 year old young woman, sat in my office. Her presenting symptoms were near debilitating insomnia, hyper vigilance, hyperarousal, irritation, nightmares and flashbacks. This was classic PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which was a bit surprising since Bethany wasn’t a soldier who had had come from a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather had recently returned from teaching English as a second language in the Philippines. But the circumstances of her experience explained what was causing her PTSD: the school she was working at was in the eye of Hayian, the category 5 typhoon that struck the Philippine Islands in November 2013 and, according to a CNN report, “was probably the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in the world in recorded history.”
Q: I’m 23 years old and in the military. Recently I was raped while on duty, I haven’t been handling it well it brought up a lot of childhood stuff. I started seeing a psychologist, but I’m having a really difficult time opening up. She’s nice and I like her, but I don’t want to tell her too much, hurt my career and depend on her to keep my confidences when she can’t. I don’t know how to tell her about the purging or even if I should, she’s asked about the cutting but I don’t know what to say. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD but I don’t want to tell her that when I have a nightmare when I wake up I can still see and feel what was happening in the dream. How do you open up and not come off as crazy? Please help me I could really use the guidance.