I can ask Ted. He won’t think I am being self-centered. He knows I am trying to be humble.
Larry couldn’t keep this nightmare to himself any longer. He finally got the opportunity to talk to Ted later in the morning; he told him everything he could remember. Just telling Ted about the dream made him break into a sweat. Ted saw the look on Larry’s face and the moisture emanating from his skin. He looked at Larry speculatively; might Larry have PTSD?
Ted had been living with PTSD for years, but he still hated talking about it. This was different though; it was for Larry who clearly needed a friend. Ted forced himself to say, “I break it out into sweats almost every day. It can be a sudden noise or smell. Something triggers memories of my time overseas and I am suddenly back there.”
Larry looked at him attentively but wasn’t nodding or anything. “Being yelled at and called worthless were frequent when I was in boot camp and you said the voice is male, and deep, and loud.” Larry was almost hypnotically staring at Ted now. Larry hadn’t done much talking when he first came to the monastery and then, the accident happened. Ted knew next to nothing about Larry.
Ted took a deep breath and said, “do you think you might have ever been in the military Larry?” This broke Larry’s hypnotic stare- instead he just looked confused as he said, “I wish I knew what I’d done with my life before the accident. I have no memories at all. This dream, if it is about anything real, is my first memory.”
Do I have PTSD? Was I in the military? None of it seems to fit but…
Larry could have PTSD and have never been in the military. There are many other traumatic experiences that can lead to PTSD; a serious car accident is just one of them. There are many very dangerous experiences that don’t lead to intrusive daymares. What is happening to Larry is complex. Ted drove him to the library in Cincinnati where they both looked at the definition of PTSD on-line together.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.” The website had a lot more information about PTSD. To read more go to:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967
Reading the website, Ted and Larry read about the many different types of trauma that could cause PTSD so Larry’s “feeling” that he hadn’t been in the military could be right. The accident that led to Larry’s memory loss could be considered traumatic. He had severe injuries. However, the fact that the sweating and hypersensitivity occurred after his nightmare involving a man’s deep, loud and abusive voice led Ted to ask Larry if he had any memories at all about being a victim of child abuse.
In addition, they learned that his having disturbing nightmares was not diagnostic of PTSD on its own either. They read the list of symptoms and tried to think through if Larry had them. Ted asked Larry if he had any other intrusive memories? “What do you mean by intrusive?” Larry asked in return. “Have any of the ideas from the nightmare come back to bother you will you tried to do something else?”
Jackpot- Ted thought. Larry had gone white during this question. (1-minute silence) “When I was trying to pray this morning,… (2- minute silence). I kept hearing a voice saying I was too stupid to deserve God’s help (Larry was looking down with sweat pouring down his face). I felt too stupid…” Ted didn’t like the green tinge to Larry’s skin. Maybe, they had talked about this enough for one day.
Ted stood up and Larry followed him out of the library and back to the van. Ted drove them back to the monastery. Larry was distracted, he kept hearing that harsh male voice calling him a piece of shit. Somehow, he couldn’t get himself to tell Ted. He walked away from Ted up the path to the garden; Ted didn’t follow- he felt Larry shouldn’t be pushed further to work through his thoughts about the nightmare.
Up in the garden, Larry just stared down at “his” tomatoes; slowly, he began to feel more relaxed.
Do you ever find yourself pushing someone to talk to you when they weren’t ready to?
Is there anything else you might do besides “pushing”?
Amy Morin LCSW wrote a piece called, “8 Brilliant Ways to Make an Awkward Conversation More Comfortable.” To read her ideas for what Ted might try tomorrow to help Larry talk to him more go to: https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/how-to-make-an-awkward-conversation-less-awkward.html
Do you think any of these “8 brilliant ways,” might work?