Let’s face it, everyone likes to pathologise their own behaviour, just to make themselves appear interesting. Consequently, in the past week I’ve decided to diagnose myself with PTSD rather than ornithophobia. No doubt, a lot of people who have this condition will feel their horrific experiences are being trivialised and try to assert that I can’t possibly understand how they feel. I beg to differ, and here’s why.
The ICD -10 (not infallible but better than DSM-IV in my humble opinion) says and I quote:
1. The patient must have been exposed to a stressful event or situation (either short or long lasting) of exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature which would likely cause pervasive distress in almost anyone.
- Check. Babies feel threatened by sudden noises especially when adults react negatively too. The sound of the flapping wings. Catastrophic.
2. There must be persistent remembering or reliving of the stressor in intrusive flashbacks, vivid memories or recurring dreams, or in experiencing distress when exposed to circumstances resembling or associated with the stressor.
- Check to part 2 of that, distress on exposure. The moment when that foolboy tried to hurl me into a flock of seagulls on a Portsmouth roundabout just to demonstrate how funny my terror was is suspended in crystal clear HD bullet time and that’s just one example.
3. The patient must exhibit an actual or preferred avoidance of circumstances resembling or associated with the stressor.
- Check. Even when it meant not being able to go to the park with my sister.
4. Either of the following must be present-:
- Inability to recall either partially or completely some important aspect of the period of exposure to the stressor, OR
- Persistent symptoms of increased psychological sensitivity and arousal shown by any two of the following:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Difficulty concentrating
- Exaggerated startle response.
- Check check.
There’s more than that in some diagnostic criteria, particularly focusing on the social and emotional impacts and I can check check to pretty much all of it. Some people put trigger warnings on their links to posts about sensitive topics. No one warns me there might be birds. BBC iPlayer, HSBC, that weird pigeon motorbiking advert that I can’t make out the meaning of, that really appalling image of a parrot climbing out of the body of a pigeon, again I know not what for. These images are everywhere. No wonder I exist in a state of near permanent hypervigilance.
They infest my dreams, they are the reason I: won’t cycle to work or walk under bridges, open my front door carefully, won’t have an outdoor cat + catflap, stare obsessively at any suspect fragment of bin liner lying in the road, just in case it’s one of them, close my eyes when driving towards them, hate flying, won’t look in the butcher’s windows, won’t live in a house with eaves, won’t have an open fireplace, haven’t trimmed the front hedge.
They’ll be the death of me, mark my words. I see my headstone reading “I told you they’d get me in the end.”
Laugh or scorn if you will. It’s the only bit of drama I have to offer. Oh…apart from the way my heart now thumps out of my chest when I see the numbers approaching 0, or a little flash of “ASY.”
FitnePs for my first park run – even though I thought I might die: +3
CRPs for just getting back on the horse: +1
- Karma: +16
- FRP: -16.4
- Relationships: +6
- Family: +9
- Friends: +15 [Supplementary PPs: +2]
- Career: +10
- Fitness: +3
- General: 0
- Hospitality: +3