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PTSD: What It Really Is Like to Have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Dr. Billy Kidd was a psychotherapist and researcher for 20 years. He has also studied history, religion, and has been active in politics.

He Flipped Out Again

Jason had entered the house and was lying in wait in the bedroom for the enemy. He hadn’t been able to get to his gun—the troopers already got that. So all he had left was his fists. He knew that was enough because this was one of the enemy gooks who didn’t know how to fight. The wimp would beg for his life as it was being punched out of him.

Inside the house where Jason lie waiting, Dr. Kidd’s car pulled into the driveway. “Hey, yeah … hey, yeah!” he sang along with the stereo.

Hearing the commotion, Jason purred like a cat. Then he heard Dr. Kidd coming through the front door of his house, singing, “Hey, yeah … hey, yeah!”


After Dr. Kidd stepped into the living room and walked into the kitchen, Jason leaped out from the hallway. "Gook!", he yelled, rushing towards the doctor.

In the blink of an eye, Kidd pulled his knife—just the way he’d been trained. Then, he held the cold blade up in front of his face.

Jason stopped in his tracks. Guns didn’t scare him one iota, but knives—he had a childhood fear of them. Kidd knew that.

“Jason,” Kidd said, “we’re not in the war zone. This is Salem. Look carefully. You just think I’m the enemy. I’m your counselor, remember?” Kidd waved the knife in front of himself, trying to distract Jason.

Jason stared blank-eyed like he'd seen a ghost.

“We’d have guns if the war was still going on,” Kidd said.

Like some zombie movie, Jason twitched. “F**k you!,” he said.

“At ease, Jason, go back to your house,” Kidd ordered. “We’ll talk this over another other day.”

Jason’s rigid muscles unloosed a notch. “F++king wimp!" Jason grunted.

“Sometimes it’s OK to be a wimp,” Kidd said.

Like something out of the movie Exorcist, a huffing, screeching sound exited Jason’s mouth. Then, he turned and headed for the door, saying, “You’ll get yours.”

It didn’t occur to Dr. Kidd to call the police. They knew Jason was a nut case waiting to explode. He’d already punched out two of their finest. And that was why he was sent to the Cuckoo’s Nest instead of prison. Vietnam vets didn’t go to prison in that town until they confronted the “enemy" forcefully.

Several months after the incident, Jason attempted suicide. He recovered, but he did not seek further psychological treatment.

Real Life Symptoms of PTSD

Some know how life is crazier than in the movies. That is why I only saw a few more vets after this incident with Jason. My number seemed to be up. It is not something that only veterans have. If you have experienced any life-threatening incident, it can come back to you in the form of flashbacks and delusions—like the game is still on, and you’re still in danger. When you a have post-traumatic syndrome episode, you will have some or all of these things happen to you.

1. You will see things in a distorted fashion,

2. You will stop trusting people.

3. You will see the past as clear as day and believe whatever threatened you is after you again.

4. You might see things that do not exist, like men in the bushes at night, or weapons in people’s hands, when there are none.

5. You can become hyper-intense, sure of yourself, one moment, and totally anxious and fragile, the next.

6. You can be delusional, believing something is true, even though it is quite impossible.

7. You will be capable of killing people, again, if that is in your past.

8. You will want to do stuff that normal people do but it doesn’t seem exciting enough to make it worth the bother, so you say forget it.

9. You will feel different from other people.

10. You can literally see the distance between your world and other people’s worlds.

11. You will believe in things kind of like jilted lovers do--that the impossible might still come true.

12. You are either uncannily calm or you jump at the faintest sound.

13. You will sweat and squirm and tell yourself that it’s all not true what you’re imagining.

14. You will be trying to mind your own business when suddenly there’s a little snap and reality looks crystal clear, like it was something from a big screen movie.

15. You will notice every tiny thing that moves. and hear every sound like it was amplified.

16. You will watch the people, wondering which one is after you until suddenly, you see the enemy.

17. You will be prescribed antipsychotic, anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety medications which sometimes help, but they can make the delusions and the hallucinations even more intense.

That is what I know from being with war veterans and other people who’ve been threatened with death. Yet, I must defer to the honored veteran Sgt. Dunson when it comes to telling the true story of PTSD. He did it in a song called PTSD. It is the best description on record of what it is like to experience this illness in it's full fledged state.

Sgt. Dunson—The Expert on PTSD

You may not want to watch Sgt. Dunson’s video if you don’t like scary stuff. But Sgt. Dunson’s video should be seen by people treating veterans for PTSD. That’s because he shows you the fight warriors go through, trying to keep their insanity as the madness creeps in and takes over.

Listen to Sgt. Dunson's song about his experience living with PTSD. Here are the lyrics written down for those who do not like the sight of guns.

If you’d like to urge your senators and representatives to see that there are better treatments for veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder, I urge you to contact their offices:

You can locate and communicate with Sgt. Dunson on his website if you have any questions or want to offer support.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Dr Billy Kidd (author) from Sydney, Australia on March 04, 2018:


I read your post and found it to be excellent. Thank you for reading mine.

Yes it's important to create an environment where one doesn't feel all alone. Talk therapy with a psychologist can be helpful. And a good psychiatrist can prescribe a medication. That can slow the process down but there is no magic pill. And among close friends, one can talk about it without reprisals.

Yamuna Hrodvitnir on March 03, 2018:

I suffer from PTSD caused by domestic violence. Part of what caused it was being held down and restrained, and someone restrained me again recently and sent me into a serious episode. I've apologized, and tried to explain exactly why it happened. After 6 years of this, I can recognize it for what it is afterward.

I've recently started therapy for it, and I'm hoping to get on medication, because it's definitely to blame for the destruction of my life, and personal relationships, as well as what has been basically chronic homelessness.

My recent episode prompted me to write a short article concerning the importance of understanding this illness when it affects the people you care about, and how a lack of compassion can perpetuate or even exacerbate these struggles.

It was good to read your article, and I think you did a wonderful job of explaining the issue. I wish there were a better known way to deal with this issue. The world is a messed up place.

If you're interested in my article, or anything, I would love the feedback of someone who has such an expansive background with the subject.

I hope it isn't rude to try plugging my own article in your comments.

jackel on October 03, 2012:

Sounds like old witchcraft has problems like me but I'm a fella. I was a bit of a hypersexual (except I never had any sex due to been a mad chirstian) Seemed like everybody was coming onto me including heaps of guys (I'm not gay) Thought I was going to be raped and killed. Still distrubed by the japanese making porn movies of hypersexual woman been tied up and made to organism with sex toys, most are acted but sometimes you see one that seems to be real where the woman shakes with shock in our mainstream internet not hidden in file sharing. I think people get angry when you talk about it because they don't want to know they are just a crook of shit.

Dr Billy Kidd (author) from Sydney, Australia on June 15, 2012:

OldWitchcraft. Yes, I've heard this story before. One women would see that man every time she looked outside at night, he'd be there in the bushes again. Vets see others as the actual enemy. The worst part of this is feeling all alone and like no one cares. And I know, when you talk to others, even close friends, they cannot feel your fear or your pain, so it feels like they just don't care. What they do not understand it the depths of the hurt. So what I tell people is keep trying not to give into your fears. Keep trying to be reasonable. Be careful, but don't let it tear you down so you become immobilized. If you become immobilized then you need to see a shrink if you can afford one. Sometimes a woman's support group helps. Take care.

OldWitchcraft from The Atmosphere on June 15, 2012:

I'm not a veteran, but I've been subjected to a lot of random violence, so I don't leave the house anymore but about once a month. I like people, but I'm really afraid of men, especially large American ones. I have tremendous anxiety if I have to have repairmen at the house - you just don't know what somebody is going to do.

I find the anxiety is getting better as time goes by, but it's been years since the last time I was nearly murdered by a stranger. I have flashbacks from being raped in my apartment by a uniformed cop back in the late '90s. It can be triggered by any kind of stress whatsoever. I'll be standing in my bedroom in any place I've ever lived since and see him coming down the hallway at me - it's almost like seeing a hologram. But, it is fleeting and I've gotten used to it.

I can't talk about it to anyone - if I tell people how I feel or what is going on with me, they get really angry with me - which I can't understand. It seems like almost everyone is crazy and mean. So, I just don't interact with people much anymore. I have to work entirely from home and I've even stopped copywriting because most of my clients were men. I had a guy pose as a client last year and he was trying to figure out where I live.

There can be no recovery when there are so many people threatening you all the time. You can't get well and be well in a world that is so full of sick people. I think it would help if we had an actual justice system to do something about all of the crime. But, if you are the victim of a crime, you don't dare call the police to report it!

Dr Billy Kidd (author) from Sydney, Australia on April 26, 2012:

Thank you for your thoughtful response. If I had not worked with veterans I would not have known that Sgt. Dunson's video shows what PTSD is really like. I believe that our emails will cause Congress to provide more treatment options for veterans.

Orasdaughter from Missouri on April 26, 2012:

Dr. Billy: Thank you for reminding us all that our veterans have seen awful things and had to do things that will be with them for the rest of their lives. With each of us contacting our government officials perhaps that will help to get our veterans the necessary and rightful help they need. The video just made me want to cry that our men and women aren't being cared for the way they should be. God Bless our men and women in uniform for their service to this ungrateful nation.