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The War Inside
9 years ago
FOCUS | The War Inside As many as one-quarter of all soldiers and Marines returning from Iraq are psychologically wounded, according to a recent American Psychological Association report. By this spring, the number of vets from Afghanistan and Iraq who had sought help for post-traumatic stress would fill four Army divisions, some 45,000 in all, an Army study found. Article is also on a Care2 Share:
PTSD Among Poor Soldiers: Herold's Story
10 years ago PTSD Among Poor Soldiers: Herold's Story by Joseph Shapiro Morning Edition, July 7, 2005 · For many young men and women, joining the military is a path out of poverty. But those who return to impoverished neighborhoods with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, a common psychiatric injury of war, can find it especially hard to recover. We profile Herold Noel, a veteran of the Iraq war who, upon his return, ended up homeless before getting help. More NPR Stories on PTSD * March 18, 2003 Preventing Breakdowns on the Battlefield *Aug. 19, 2003 Tracing the PTSD Diagnosis *March 30, 2004 Psychological Impact of Killing in Battle *May 27, 2005 Guard Suicide Highlights Risks for Returning Troops *June 2, 2005 A Woman Guard Member's Struggle with PTSD Part 2 of This Report * July 8, 2005 Part Two: Returning Soldier Finds Role as Advocate Documenting Homeless Vets When I Came Home is a documentary in progress that follows the lives and struggles of several homeless veterans, including those recently returned from Iraq. The film, from filmmaker Dan Lohaus, looks at factors that led over 150,000 Vietnam veterans from the battlefield to the street. Learn more and watch a clip from the film: * Open News Network: 'When I Came Home' * Note: Herold Noel appears about 30 seconds into the film clip on this page. *fair use*
((((Sunshine and Bjorn))))
10 years ago
Thank you, both of you! Sunshine, my grown up children look forward to being able to visit me here in Norway- and I to having them Bjorn, are you by any chance Scandinavian?
Shocks and strains of homelessness
10 years ago

Harmony, you are brave lady.

Harmony  u are doing so much for others  from what you discovered

10 years ago

Maybe someday your children can join you over there. My heart goes out to you.

Hi Sunshine
10 years ago
Quite honestly, there's no way that I feel like coming back to the United States as long as it is in the grip of fascist NeoCons who seize control of the government through illegal elections and rigged voting machines;who wage illegal wars in more and more countries of the world; who take away people's civil rights and liberties; who lie repeatedly to their own citizens, allies and rest of the world; who keep on damaging the global environment: who throw people in torture prisons without access to legal aid and medical help- and who put 4 year olds and babies and innocent civilians on "no fly" lists. The problem is that I have children left behind- grown up children, but still my "babies"- I will do what I can through nonviolent, peaceful means and dissent, to do my part in restoring my country's Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence. It is ironic to me that I, who am living abroad, am more protective of my country's Constitution that its "President", who calls that Constitution a "god-damned piece of paper".
Traumatic Stress of Homelessness
10 years ago

Dear Harmony,

I've been through several major hurricanes ect.. and i could so relate to your posts about your own experience with homelessness  and discouraging family in the U.S. and that you having done nothing wrong except to have been injured, and so much of what you had to say.

IMHO If  you live in another country, eventho homesickness for the one's country of origin (regardless the circumstance) is normal, I would NOT come back to U.S. if you can help it. Maybe you could let your brother visit you in Norway instead. Just a thought.

I'm so glad if things worked out for you to stay in a safe place. :o)

10 years ago
That was good to hear...I just saw the first posts were written in January and I presumed it was January 2006. Thank God it is over. Glad to hear that
Jeanne- re fear of becoming homeless again
10 years ago
I still go through fearing becoming homeless again, definitely! Regardless of my relationship, which is now quite stable and loving. And I can quite understand how being unemployed would stir up the same sort of fears and insecurity about the future- a very stressful time, to be sure!!
10 years ago
that difficulty in my relationship was a year ago- things have straightened out in the meantime, thank goodness
10 years ago
PS: I think I know what you mean by fear of ending up homeless again and PTSD - symptoms coming up because of that. i have the same fear about being unemployed again - the thought of it just makes me dizzy and feeling like I'm about to vomit.
10 years ago

Harmony, I do hope and pray you and your husband can sort things out, it would be dreadful to loose you.

His morals sounds a bit twisted and it's bad of him to reveal this to you now and not before you had the chance to decide whether to marry or not. I do hope you can get some help and sort thingsa out. And you know, if he doesn't want to listen and wants to go on being unfaithful then maybe there's a better man for you in Norway? Someone who can appreciate you for what you're worth knowing that he shall not fool around with others.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Common In Post Tsunami Survivors
10 years ago Bangkok: On 26th Dec last year the deadly tsunami waves had left over 25,000 people dead and many more homeless in a matter of hours in the Indian Ocean countries. One in five Thai tsunami survivors are still suffering effects of last year's disaster that forever changed the physical, social and psychological landscape of some areas in Thailand. According to clinical studies and interviews, an average of 20 percent of Thai tsunami survivors are still suffering the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with some having symptoms of depression, reported the Thai News Agency. The Thai tsunami PTSD studies were conducted by the Thailand Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCEL and the Department of Mental Health, the Ministry of Public Health, on 3,141 survivors of Thailand's Dec 26 Boxing Day tsunami, which devastated the country's six southern Andaman Sea provinces of Phuket, Phang-nga, Trang, Krabi, Ranong and Satun. The greatest prevalence of cases is found in Phang-nga, which has suffered twice the PTSD rate of Phuket. PTSD is prevalent in 33.6 percent of survivors in Phang-nga, 26.7 percent in Krabi, 21.5 percent in Ranong, 19.5 percent in Trang, 17.3 percent in Satun and 16.4 percent in Phuket itself, according to TCELS official Komjorn Palangura. The study has also found a significant difference among survivors, regarding their gender and marital status. People suffering mental health problems are more likely to be female than male and more likely those who are -- or were -- married than single. (Source: IAN *fair use*
Still mourning in New Orleans
10 years ago
"This is a mourning process, like a death in the family, even in families where no one has been lost' Charles Curie, mental health administrator at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Should anyone at Memorial, or elsewhere, ever be formally charged with murdering exceedingly ill patients, it will undoubtedly be posited that health care providers did what they thought best — or least worst — under the circumstances. Already, the subject of mercy killing in order to avoid a more protracted and painful expiry — under the Katrina conditions — has been debated by medical ethics experts. This is one of the many dramatic life-and-death issues to have arisen after the initial chaos of Katrina. But there has been a wave of more quiet dying, too, and this also worries mental health professionals. The New York Times reported several weeks ago that at least seven people had killed themselves in New Orleans — a city where the residential population has dropped to less than 100,000 — in the four months after Katrina. That compares with a national rate of 11 suicides per 100,000 for all of 2002 and a New Orleans rate of about 9 per 100,000 for all of 2004. Everyone is in agreement that the problem is likely to increase and nobody has yet collated suicide figures for communities of the displaced, in cities such as Houston, where thousands of evacuees are still living in shelters or trying for a fresh start, with no hope of ever returning to homes that no longer exist. "Just about everyone here is feeling depressed right now," Dr. Douglas Greve, a psychiatrist with a practice in the French Quarter, told the Star. "And it's going to get worse. "I lost my practice overnight after Katrina because most of my patients left the city. Yet I'm full up right now because there are so few psychiatrists left to deal with the people who are still here." Greve says he knows of no mental health centres that have reopened yet and only a handful of local hospital with psychiatric wards are back in operation. "I don't know where people are going if they need immediate help, especially if they're feeling suicidal." Charles Curie, mental health administrator at the federal Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., told the Star that experts dispatched to New Orleans are seeing classic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. "This was an unprecedented disaster. We've never had a disaster within the United States that has displaced so many people and destroyed so many homes, entire communities lost. And people coming back to their homes are discovering that those homes just aren't there anymore and might never be again." In the most damaged areas, Curie says authorities estimate a 20 to 25 per cent increase in "clinically significant medical health needs" which would require clinical intervention. "This is a mourning process, like a death in the family, even in families where no one has been lost." Suicidal "ideation," substance abuse, domestic violence — all these post-traumatic stress symptoms have been identified at worrisome levels and need to be tracked over the long term, as they were with the victims of 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing, says Curie. "I expect we will continue to see these trends rising over the next 12 to 18 months." That includes symptoms among the disaster responders as well, many of whom were traumatized by what they encountered. "They witnessed so much death, so much destruction." But in New Orleans, the entire infrastructure for providing emergency assistance — including mental health services, was demolished by the disaster. Curie's agency has received $21 million (U.S.), specifically to provide transitional mental health services, with scores of psychiatrists delivered to the region to fill the vacuum. (Many are staying aboard cruise ships on the river.) Methadone treatment clinics for heroin addicts — some 1,300 of them in New Orleans — needed to be reopened, as well as other on-going treatment programs, in order to prevent relapse into various addictions. Out on the streets of New Orleans, the NOPD's mobile mental health squad does its best to provide emergency intervention — some place to take those who appear a danger to themselves or to others — with so few facilities available. "Depression is prevalent, especially in some of the poorer areas," says Sgt. Ben Glaudi, director of the mobile squad he helped establish more than two decades ago. "But the people who were most devastated, completely washed out, they're not even here anymore. Maybe they're trying to establish themselves in another city and they'll never come back." The diaspora, a plunge in the local population, has actually decreased calls to the unit, Glaudi explains. The irony, if there is one, is that the urban constituency most often described as vulnerable — the mentally feeble and homeless-deranged, those already living rough on the street — have apparently been better able to cope with what has befallen New Orleans. "Some people just seem better able to cope, maybe because that's what they've been they've been doing for a long time, coping," says Glaudi. "I guess they're just more resilient to acute trauma. They were high-risk before but they're lower risk than a lot of other people now." *fair use*
Still mourning in New Orleans
10 years ago Still mourning in New Orleans Jan. 15, 2006. 07:55 AM ROSIE DIMANNO A number of elderly and fragile New Orleans nursing home patients — were they murdered out of kindness to spare them suffering? Investigators are wondering and subpoenas have been issued. It's a question that gnaws at Louisiana: To live or die in La.? And what of those who survived the deluge but with their minds, their spirits, shattered — doing unto themselves, in the months since and the months to come, what hurricane and homelessness could not immediately inflict. At least seven suicides since Katrina struck New Orleans, and upward of two-dozen known failed attempts. In a nightclub on Bourbon St., a man puts a gun to his temple and pulls the trigger. This is the reckoning of catastrophe, the most horrific of reminders that it's not over, not any of it. It may appear that there's no connection between what is rumoured to have occurred in at least one long-term residence for the aged and the more recently deceased, between those who have taken fate into their own hands and those who are alleged to have died at the merciful hands of others. But the connection is this: Death and despondency still hover, as cause and effect, alpha and omega; as a tragic response to insurmountable dilemmas and in circumstances so drained of hope that the liquidation of self, or other, is seductive. What may have started in September at the Memorial Medical Center as an act of compassionate euthanasia — and there is, it must be emphasized, no hard evidence yet that this happened; no one has been charged — leads to a not entirely incongruous emotional arc of panic and gloom and despair, a place without reason to go on breathing. For Frank McManus, the very thought that his 71-year-old mother, Wilma, could have been put down out of the goodness of someone's heart — had his sister Angela not been present — is appalling. "We took her to that hospital a month before Katrina," McManus told the Star. "My sister decided to stay with her through the hurricane because it seemed safer there." Wilma McManus was on the seventh floor of Memorial, a 347-bed private hospital. "I never even found out about the whole story until the beginning of December because my sister was afraid to tell me. And then it was, like, Oh my God!" What Angela McManus told her brother was that, two days after the levees had broken, she'd overheard nurses talking about who would be evacuated and who would not; further, that hospital officials had decided patients who had "Do not resuscitate" orders on their charts would not be evacuated, when and if rescue workers ever got to floodwater-stranded Memorial. "Other hospitals managed to evacuate all their patients, why not this one?" McManus wonders. "It's not like it was a little hospital hidden away somewhere." The hospital and nearly all its patients survived the hurricane but were then left, it seems, to fend for themselves for several days before assistance arrived, the loss of electrical power shutting down critical support equipment such as ventilators and dialysis machines, nurses fanning patients by hand in the 40C heat, only an occasional boat or helicopter stopping by (after three days) to evacuate a few patients, and staff increasingly worried they would be attacked by looters in search of drugs. They could hear gunfire in the neighbourhood and rumours of public rampage spread. Thirty-four Memorial patients died after floodwaters cut off electricity. Of those, 24 were in long-term care within a section of the hospital run by LifeCare Holdings, Inc., a separate company. The hospital has been closed since the last patient was evacuated on Sept. 2. In October, Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti ordered an investigation into storm-related deaths at six hospitals and 13 nursing homes, where families have alleged neglect and mistreatment during and after the storm. Last month, 73 subpoenas were issued, relating specifically to Memorial, with Foti himself telling CNN allegations of possible euthanasia at that hospital "are credible and worth investigating." A spokesperson for Foti added: "All we can say is that we had to issue the subpoenas to get these people to talk to us." Autopsies, including sophisticated toxicology tests, are being conducted. Dr. Bryant King, who'd only recently arrived at Memorial, told CNN about overhearing doctors on Sept. 1 — three days after Katrina hit — discuss giving critically ill patients lethal doses of narcotics. "I think this is an absolutely horrible proposition. My job is trying to keep them alive." On that same day, King told CNN, a hospital administrator suggested to him that some patients might be "put out of their misery" and that later he saw a fellow physician, Dr. Anna Pou, going through the hospital with a handful of syringes, filled with an unknown substance. He did not see Pou actually inject anyone. But King claims he overheard this doctor saying to patients: "I'm going to give you something to make you feel better." Memorial insists no patient was ever abandoned or euthanized; that its doctors and nurses and support staff did their jobs "heroically." It should not be forgotten that the attorney general's office has already charged the operators of a New Orleans-area nursing home, St. Rita's, with 34 counts of negligent homicide after the patients were allegedly abandoned. (more)
Health Care Issues for People who are Homeless (PDF)
10 years ago
Prevalence of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Among Homeless and Low-Income Housed Mothers
10 years ago
Various limitations must be considered. This study was conducted in one locale and can best be generalized to midsize American cities. We did not determine axis II diagnoses. Because of resource limitations, we did not assess interrater reliability among interviewers. Recall bias also is an issue in conducting lifetime assessments, but is almost always in the direction of underreporting. Current substance use may have been underdiagnosed since Worcester's shelters do not accept women who are active users. While our study and the National Comorbidity Survey used identical diagnostic criteria, different assessment instruments were used in the two studies; the difference in instruments made comparison of results slightly more problematic than if the same diagnostic device had been used. Finally, not all National Comorbidity Survey variables were available to us for secondary analyses, limiting our ability to make comparisons for certain diagnoses and across diagnostic conditions. Our findings support Belle's argument that psychiatric disorders are more common among women in lower socioeconomic groups, largely because of the multiple stressors associated with poverty (14). Pervasive violence in the context of poverty may account for many of the emotional disorders in our group, particularly the disproportionately high rates of PTSD. Only by acknowledging the bleak reality of poor women's lives, especially the high rates of traumatization, can we improve their mental health and well-being. Footnotes Received Dec. 16, 1996; revisions received Nov. 10, 1997; and Feb. 17, 1998; accepted April 24, 1998. From the Better Homes Fund, the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; and the Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health. Address reprint requests to Dr. Bassuk, The Better Homes Fund, 181 Wells Ave., Newton Centre, MA 02159. Supported by NIMH grants MH-47312 and MH-51479 and Maternal and Child Health Bureau grant MCJ250809. The National Comorbidity Survey was funded by grants from NIMH (MH/DA-46376 and MH-49098), the National Institute on Drug Addiction (supplement to MH/DA-46376), and the W.T. Grant Foundation (90135190). (Information on the availability of National Comorbidity Survey data to outside researchers for secondary analyses can be found on the Internet [].)The authors acknowledge the contributions of the following persons in the conduct of this research: Carolyn Banach, M.A., Jocelyne Bauduy, M.A., Margaret Brooks, B.A., Angela Browne, Ph.D., Linda Cohan, M.S.W., Mardia Coleman, Ann Dalianis, M.A., Veronica Guerrero-Macia, M.A., Barbra Page, M.A., Nancy Popp, Ed.D., Laurie Ross, M.A., Amy Salomon, Ph.D., Julia Vera, Linda Wein­reb, M.D., Constance Wood, M.S.W., and Dorothy St. Cyr, B.A. (References can be read on URL posted at beginning of article- Harmony)
Prevalence of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Among Homeless and Low-Income Housed Mothers
10 years ago Results Characteristics of Homeless and Housed Mothers and Participants in the National Comorbidity Survey The approximate mean age of the Worcester group and the National Comorbidity Survey sample was 27 years (range=15–58). More than half the homeless and housed subjects were Hispanic and African American, whereas 71% of National Comorbidity Survey participants were white. Less than 6% of the low-income women were married compared to 50% of the National Comorbidity Survey women. The median annual income of the National Comorbidity Survey participants was approximately $36,000, with 73% earning more than $15,000. In contrast, the median incomes of the homeless ($8,500) and housed ($8,500) mothers were well below the poverty level. More than 40% of the National Comorbidity Survey group had 13 or more years of education compared to 11% for the homeless and 18% for the housed women. Homeless and housed women had an average of 2.2 children. Most were receiving support from Aid to Families With Dependent Children, and more than two-thirds had previously worked. Both groups were socially isolated. As previously reported, histories of childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, or both and more recent partner violence were pervasive: nearly 88% of the homeless and 79% of the housed women had been violently victimized at some point in their lives (11). Lifetime and 1-Month Prevalence More than two-thirds of respondents had at least one lifetime diagnosis (see table 1). The distribution of the diagnoses was similar among both groups. PTSD, major depression, and substance use disorders were disproportionate among low-income mothers when compared with National Comorbidity Survey respondents (9, 13). Approximately 35% of low-income women had lifetime PTSD, a rate about three times that of women of all ages (not just women 15–40 years) in the National Comorbidity Survey (13). The rate of major depression among low-income women was about twice that of women 15–40 years in the National Comorbidity Survey population. Of the anxiety disorders among low-income women, only panic was elevated when compared with data from the National Comorbidity Survey. Psychotic disorders were not overrepresented among our study participants. Lifetime prevalence of alcohol-related disorders among these low-income mothers, however, was almost twice as high and other forms of drug abuse were nearly three times as high as comparable disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey. With regard to current (i.e., 1-month) prevalence rates, almost two-thirds of homeless and housed mothers had no diagnosis, one-fourth had one, and 12% had two or more diagnoses. Current rates of homeless and housed mothers were similar. PTSD was most common. Major depression occurred approximately twice as often as in the National Comorbidity Survey. Two or More Lifetime and Current Co-Occurring Disorders Since we did not know the onset of all lifetime disorders, we distinguished between two or more lifetime disorders and two or more current co-occurring disorders. When we considered lifetime diagnoses, 31% of homeless and housed mothers had none, 23% had one, and 47% had two or more disorders over their life spans. Of those with at least one psychiatric condition, 67% had two or more lifetime diagnoses—a prevalence similar to that of the National Comorbidity Survey group (9). Of women with two or more disorders, 89% had a substance use disorder, 85% had PTSD, 73% had depression, and 71% had an anxiety disorder. Ten percent of the Worcester group had two or more current co-occurring disorders. The most common co-occurring disorders were major depression, substance use disorders, anxiety, and PTSD. No significant differences existed between the homeless and housed groups. Discussion This is the first study to date that documents the prevalence (lifetime and 1 month) of psychiatric and substance use disorders among homeless and low-income housed mothers and compares it to the prevalence of such disorders among women in the general population. More than two-thirds of the mothers in our study had a lifetime diagnosis of at least one axis I disorder, and almost half had two or more lifetime disorders. Contrary to reports citing mental disorders as a cause of homelessness, DSM-III-R diagnoses were not associated with current housing status among this group of low-income mothers with dependent children. Unlike solitary homeless women, homeless mothers do not suffer disproportionately from schizophrenia (7). However, lifetime rates of PTSD, major depression, and substance use disorders are overrepresented when compared with rates for the National Comorbidity Survey. With regard to lifetime history of mental disorder, approximately two-thirds of those with diagnoses had two or more lifetime disorders. The rate of two or more current disorders was far lower, with substance abuse most likely to be one of these current (and lifetime) conditions. Violence has been recognized as a subtext of family homelessness (11, 13). A high percentage (83%) of low-income women in Worcester had been physically or sexually assaulted during their life span (10). Thus, it is not surprising that PTSD, substance use disorders, and major depression were disproportionately represented with lifetime rates of PTSD three times greater than in the general female population. (continued next post)
Prevalence of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Among Homeless and Low-Income Housed Mothers
10 years ago Am J Psychiatry 155:1561-1564, November 1998 ©Copyright 1998 American Psychiatric Association Regular Article Prevalence of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Among Homeless and Low-Income Housed Mothers Ellen L. Bassuk, M.D., John C. Buckner, Ph.D., Jennifer N. Perloff, M.P.A., and Shari S. Bassuk, Sc.D. ABSTRACT Objective:This study compared the prevalence of DSM-III-R disorders among homeless and low-income housed mothers with the prevalence of these disorders among all women in the National Comorbidity Survey.Method:The authors used an unmatched case-control design for assessing 220 homeless and 216 housed mothers receiving public assistance.Results:Homeless and housed mothers had similar rates of psychiatric and substance use disorders. Both groups had higher lifetime and current rates of major depression and substance abuse than did all women in the National Comorbidity Survey. Both groups also had high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder and two or more lifetime conditions. Conclusions:The prevalence of trauma-related disorders among poor women was higher than that among women in the general population. Programs and policies designed for low-income mothers must respond to the high prevalence of DSM-III-R disorders. Am J Psychiatry 1998; 155: 1561-1564 Over the last 15 years, women have changed the face of homelessness. Families now constitute 36.5% of the homeless population (1). Studies have documented elevated rates of mental illness and substance use disorders among homeless women in relation to the general population, but estimates are inconsistent (2–5), in part, because of methodological differences (6, 7). These studies of homeless women rarely distinguish between women accompanied by children ("mothers") and those who are alone ("solitary"). Although the majority of both groups have children, many solitary women have lost their children because of mental disorders. Homeless solitary women have higher rates of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance use disorders than homeless mothers do (7). Zima et al. found that 72% of homeless mothers had a probable lifetime substance use disorder, mental disorder, or both (5). In contrast, the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey reported that the percentage of welfare recipients with substance use disorders was similar to the percentage in the general population (8). In general, homeless mothers have higher rates of major depression (4, 5) and substance use disorders (3–5) than the general population. Dual diagnoses (i.e., mental illness and substance abuse) and the presence of two or more lifetime conditions have also received increased attention. Among homeless solitary women, approximately half have a dual diagnosis. For participants in the National Comorbidity Survey, 52% had no mental disorders over their life spans, while 21% had one lifetime disorder and the remaining 27% had two or more lifetime disorders (9). To address the lack of research on homeless and low-income mothers, in this article, we used the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R—Non-Patient Edition (SCID-NP) (10) to determine lifetime and current prevalence of DSM-III-R axis I disorders among 220 homeless and 216 low-income housed mothers. We also compared prevalence rates among these low-income mothers to the rates among women from the general population, aged 15–40, in the National Comorbidity Survey. (continued next post)
My reply to Bridget's post
10 years ago [Hpn] PTSD and homelessness Harmony Kieding Thu, 24 May 2001 03:43:14 -0700 * Previous message: [Hpn] Raymond Hotel Fire Survivors Take Action To Prevent Homelessnes * Next message: [Hpn] POVERTY PIMP * Messages sorted by: [ date ] [ thread ] [ subject ] [ author ] Bridgit, First of all, thank you for bringing up and addressing this important topic of post traumatic stress disorder. It very much needs to be looked at. Last year, I found myself experiencing a number of symptoms after having been homeless. These included disturbed sleeping patterns/insomnia, depression, anxiety, phobia about privacy and visitors, hypersensitivity to the tv set being on all the time (thank you for your comments on the radio!!!), and other symptoms. I went on an internet search for ptsd support groups and could find not one group for homelessness and ptsd, so I started one at yahoo groups (well, egroups actually to begin with). After some time to review my life history, I have come to conclude that I have "compound" post traumatic stress disorder. This term is my own, as far as I know. I have no psychiatric training. I came up with this term because there were a number of stressful conditions in my life, any one of which could result in ptsd: 1)being severely abused physically, emotionally & mentally in childhood 2)being abused in domestic partnerships 3)the stress from low-paying jobs and living in poverty 4)the stress from poor nutrition and health care as a result of poverty 5)the stress of a job-related injury and inadequate treatment of it, due to lack of funds to pay for it 6)homelessness, and the stress of lack of shelter, harassment from police and society, and the stigma of being "criminalized" for same There are probably other factors as well. And that assortment of stress-inducing factors just happens to be my particular "mix". Other people may have other mixes. It is interesting to me that, of all the ptsd links I have looked at (and I have looked at dozens), not one mentions homelessness as a source of ptsd. Various sources mention rape, incest,violent crime, natural disasters, the Vietnam war and other wars- but not one mentions homelessness. You have also mentioned gender bias in your diagnosis, and that needs to be looked at as well. And I also hear you when you mention the strange results of "class" assessments that go on. Also, you asked "what's wrong with this picture?" and I find myself asking the same thing, as my husband and I are in a similiar financial boat to yours. We are extremely "marginally-housed" at the moment, being five month's behind in rent. ( and I have seen online appeals to help others who are two month's in arrears- at End Homelessness Now, for example). Neither my husband nor I drink, use drugs, gamble, or overspend. Our financial "sin" is that we need a roof over our head. Initially our landlady here in Norway had asked for SIX MONTH's rent in advance before we moved in; my husband talked her down to three. We have never caught up in our payments to her. My husband works. I bring in what money I can from making websites for others. But returning to PTSD: how many of us homeless/formerly homeless have it? And how many of us have been numbing the pain of it with alcohol, tobacco or drug abuse, denial or some other coping mechanism? Do we even know the symptoms of it, or have the means to treat it? Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Diagnosis And if we are "lucky" enough to return to the state of being "housed"- how well can we re-integrate with the very society that rejected us before? I, too, am left with questions... warm regards, Harmony
10 years ago
I ended up being examined by two psychologists over the course of the summer, because the first one didn't even find enough evidence of a disability to provide a diagnosis, so they needed a second opinion. In the psychology exams, they devote a lot of time to IQ testing, to see how well your intellect functions and how much education you've had. I scored very high in this segment, especially the part concerning memory. They also interview you to get your general life history, to get clues about traumas from your past that might have caused a mental disorder, as well as how you might be impaired in your present-day functioning. The data about the past violence and my current symptoms, as well as my ongoing state of homelessness, were entered into the record, but for some reason this evidence didn't seem to weigh very heavily in either of these psychologists' minds. They were much more impressed by my intelligence, my academic background and verbal abilities, and both assessed my condition as non-severe. The first one, as I said, didn't even give any diagnosis, and the second one gave me a diagnosis of "Panic Disorder Without Agoraphobia" but fell shy of calling it PTSD, even though she had noted my reaction to radio noise and called it a "PTSD symptom". So I was denied benefits in the first round, and also in the second after I requested reconsideration. In one sense they were paying me a compliment, in the way they praised my intellect and abilities, but something still wasn't right. It was clear that they didn't recognize the severity of the impairment that I knew was there. Months had passed since I'd first applied, but John still maintained that he would testify for me if I pressed for a hearing. So this I proceeded to do. I kept reflecting on how my positive traits had worked against me: my high IQ scores, the fact that I have a college degree, and the way I displayed my gift of verbal articulation in describing my condition. On the one hand I could see how these things would make it difficult for others to see me as being disabled, if they only took this evidence alone. But they also had evidence of severe stress, and the fact that I had been a battered woman should have clued them in to how serious and debilitating this condition could be, my education and intelligence notwithstanding. It occurred to me that there might have been actual discrimination going on because of my gender and my middle-class status. When I discussed this further with John, he told me that during his psychology evaluations he was asked to describe in meticulous detail the logging accident that had caused his PTSD, to the point that he was reliving the incident and visibly acting out his symptoms in front of the examiners. I wondered why I had not also been asked to describe, in detail, the beatings I had suffered for years. That part of my past had only been touched on very briefly in both interviews and was only given cursory mention in both of the examiners' reports. Could it be that more credence is given to a man who suffered a single accident while working at a high-paying job than to a woman who has suffered through years of beating and torture by domestic partners? Besides this suggestion of gender discrimination, there was also the factor of our class differences. John, having come from a very poor family, having little education, and clearly displaying his crude "hillbilly" speech and manners, was easily seen as being disabled, while I, with my middle-class background, college education and refined speech and manners, was not. This issue of discrimination was one I eventually took up with the administrative law judge (also a female) when the time for my hearing finally came around, almost a year after I had first applied. We also hoped that John's testimony regarding my symptoms would be enough to swing the case in my favor. As of this writing I am still waiting to hear the results. And after an entire year of being involved in this process I am struck by the ironies of the whole thing. In order to win at this "game" you have to do a very competent job of proving yourself to be incompetent. And at the same time this very show of competence could work against you! You are also performing the paradoxical feat of empowering yourself by declaring your powerlessness over your disability. (This paradox is of course well known to everyone in a 12-step program.) And despite all my bonafide efforts to jump through all their hoops, I have gone through yet another year of being homeless with no regular income and still suffering from the same PTSD condition whether or not it is recognized. Ok, that was the original article written two years ago, so I can give you an update: The decision, which I received in the mail four months after the hearing, was "Unfavorable". The judge still was not convinced that my condition was that bad, mainly because I had no documentation from the many therapists I had seen over the years. It had never occurred to me that I would need such documentation at the time; I had no knowledge of PTSD or that I could possibly get benefits by producing evidence of this. I am no longer homeless, but John and I are still living in the same state of poverty, trying to pay all the bills on his SSD income which is never enough, and he keeps bugging me to bring in more money, and we still haven't found all the answers. So we are still in the "at risk" category. What is wrong with this picture?! ======= FAIR USE for looking at issues of homelessness and ptsd,etc. ========
Found some posts written by a friend and myself
10 years ago john mcculloch Wed, 23 May 2001 13:14:10 -0700 * Previous message: [Hpn] @Our H.P. Updated today!! * Next message: [Hpn] PTSD and homelessness * Messages sorted by: [ date ] [ thread ] [ subject ] [ author ] This originally appeared in the August 26, 1999 issue of the Spare Change streetpaper: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, PTSD AND HOMELESSNESS by Bridget Reilly When my partner John and I were first getting acquainted and filling each other in on our personal statistics, the subject of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) came up very early on. This is a condition suffered by a great many homeless people. I first heard it mentioned years ago in connection with Vietnam vets, as if it was some mysterious malady claimed only by them, like Agent Orange and dengue fever. John, however, told me that he was a veteran not of the military but of the logging industry. Back in 1981 he'd had a horrendous accident in which he was struck by a haulback line and thrown 50 feet into the air. He landed splat on the ground and died for four minutes. When he returned to his twisted and mangled body, he found himself paralyzed and hardly able to breathe. He recovered the use ofhis arms and upper body after a couple of days in the hospital, but it was months before he was able to walk and fully function again. And his psyche has never been the same since. He was eventually diagnosed as having PTSD and now collects a monthly disability check. During this conversation, I mentioned that I also have some post-traumatic stress from past violent relationships. I had heard this condition referred to as Battered Woman's Syndrome, but I didn't know if it would be officially classed as a disability, and doubted that I would be eligible to collect any benefits for it. I had learned to conceal my symptoms so well over the years in order to function in the adult world, that very few people would suspect I had a disability. Or if they did happen to notice any of my symptoms, just as social withdrawal or a heightened sensitivity to certain noises, they simply didn't recognize them for what they were--nor did I. I just thought I was "more sensitive than most people", and didn't see how this sensitivity had its roots in past traumas of violence and torture, until John figured it out and started explaining it to me as he understood the phenomenon. The matter came up quite unexpectedly in June of 1998, when we were in the house of a friend of John's, where we had been invited for breakfast and a shower one morning (we were homeless then), and as I had feared, he had the radio on when we went inside. In addition to my general discomfort at being in other people's houses, cars or offices, I also have an abnormal stress reaction to whatever canned noise they might have on, whether TV, radio or stereo. It seems to have nothing to do with its volume as it usually isn't that loud, but it's something about my being unable to control the ambience because it's not my space. Since John was very conscious ofhis own PTSD symptoms, he was also very alert to signs of this illness in other people, and he was the first person who was ever able to give an enlightened interpretation to the odd reaction I had to the sound of the radio. Instead of just saying I was being silly or unreasonable when I asked them to kill the noise, as people usually did, he said this indicated a "problem" which was not my fault, but which seems to be an unconscious, involuntary stress trigger that had originated in some past trauma. (I knew what the trauma was: it had started with my first violent relationship in 1975, and was further aggravated during the second one in the early 1990's.) And when I ran out to the driveway to escape the radio noise and John came out and saw the panic in my eyes, he knew what was going on: I had a major case of PTSD. Once this had crystallized, he began urging me to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), for which he had no doubt that I qualified. I was very reluctant at first to plug my personal data into the frightening bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration, besides not wanting to define my condition as a disability. But I had always known that this pain inside me would have to be addressed somehow, sometime, or else I might remain in this homeless limbo for the rest of my life. And John knew he could steer me through all the channels, having gone through them himself. It would take a long time and a great deal of perserverance to clear all the hurdles, but it was worth it when the checks started coming in, he said. So with many misgivings I began the application process, and in the first month I had already filled out a myriad of forms. There was also a long questionnaire for John to fill out and other forms for him to add his signature to, as he was volunteering to be the witness who would testify about what he had seen of my symptoms. Then we arrived at the stage where it was time to schedule an appointment with a psychologist, to begin probing my mind to see if they could find a real disorder in there, after all the years I had unknowingly carried it around and learned to conceal its symptoms so well. I insisted on seeing only female doctors because of my general distrust of men. (continued next post)
A refuge for homeless female veterans, 2
11 years ago
But when she left the service, Marks had to move from the base into her mother's house in Triangle, Va., along with her 18-month-old daughter. She had trouble finding a job and an apartment she could afford. "I was having problems getting back into the 'real world,' " said Marks, who now lives at Walker House. "I didn't have a place to live. I was a single mom, and I couldn't support my daughter like I could before. It was hard to cope." Marks left her daughter with her mother and moved in with her grandparents in East Greenville, Montgomery County, hoping to find a better job and stability. Less than a year later, she was struggling with depression and feeling guilty that she was unable to support her daughter. She began drinking heavily and dating abusive men. She left her grandparents' home. "I couldn't shake my depression," said Marks, who stayed with friends and coworkers for three years. "I felt the walls were closing in on me. I had a daughter I wasn't with, and I began to think she was better off with my mother." Marks entered treatment for depression at the Coatesville VA hospital in August 2004 and moved into Walker House when it opened in January. She now works full time in retail and hopes to be reunited soon with her daughter. Child care has topped the list of unmet needs for homeless female veterans for several years. Few programs allow children to live with their mothers. Walker House, for example, helps relatives caring for the veteran's children by contributing to expenses such as day care and clothing. "The shelters and transitional housing don't allow kids, so where do these women go? They're going to the street," said Cathy Wiblemo, deputy director for health care with the American Legion in Washington. The military is trying to meet those needs, said Gordon Mansfield, deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, during a visit to Walker House in early April. "There's a military saying that we don't leave our wounded behind. We are going into battle to bring back those missing in America to let them know we have not forgotten." Contact staff writer Kera Ritter at 856-779-3829 or ============ FAIR USE for examining homelessness, ptsd, veterans, etc. ============
A refuge for homeless female veterans
11 years ago Posted on Sun, May. 01, 2005 Click here to find out more! A refuge for homeless female veterans By Kera Ritter Inquirer Staff Writer The military gave Sharon Boyd all the things that life in Pottstown, Montgomery County, couldn't: economic stability, career advancement, and the chance to travel. But after 18 years in the service, Boyd was sleeping in her Oldsmobile Royale, battling post-traumatic stress disorder and a cocaine addiction. Boyd is one of an estimated 6,000 homeless female veterans nationwide, a group whose numbers are expected to rise as the number of women in the military increases. But as homeless female veterans become more visible, the reasons for their homelessness remain largely unclear. "People go into the military, on one hand, to flee from unstable social circumstances and because they think it'll give them better opportunity," said psychiatrist Robert Rosenheck, coauthor of a study of homeless female veterans and the director of Veterans Affairs' Northeast Program Evaluation Center. "Those disadvantages, while perhaps partially ameliorated by military service, in the end leave some at great risk for becoming homeless." Boyd, 47, now lives at Mary E. Walker House, a 30-bed transitional housing program for women at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. Walker House, which opened in January, is the military's latest tactic to support this new group of veterans in need, and is the largest facility of its kind in the country. Nationally, more than 315,000 veterans are homeless on any night, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. About 10,000 are estimated to live in Pennsylvania and 8,300 in New Jersey. A small percentage are women. Like their male counterparts, homeless female veterans often suffer from a combination of drug or alcohol addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other untreated mental-health problems, such as depression. These veterans may also be dealing with the aftermath of sexual trauma, which can itself trigger post-traumatic stress disorder, experts say. The adjustment to civilian life can be the breaking point as the women move to low-paying jobs with few family supports and feel the loss of an independent lifestyle. "We have enough homeless women veterans to have a women-veterans transitional program," said Marsha Four, a Vietnam veteran and the program director of homeless services at the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center, which runs Walker House. "They have specific needs different from male veterans'." Sharon Boyd's experience reflects the issues that the Department of Veterans Affairs and researchers are trying to address. Boyd spent 10 of her Army years stationed in Germany, where, she said, she was sexually assaulted by another soldier. She didn't file charges because she was afraid of retaliation. Boyd, who worked as a paralegal, was also injured in a training accident that burned her face, arms and chest. She began having nightmares about the assault and the training accident. In 1989, Boyd left the Army to attend college and work as a paralegal, but she was laid off in 1991. She struggled with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eventually, drug addiction. Boyd reenlisted, hoping to regain her independence, but she couldn't shake the nightmares or the drugs. "I felt independent when I was in the military," Boyd said. "I got my education, traveled. It was very rewarding. After the military, you have to redefine yourself. It's hard." Recently, Boyd and 10 other women were living at the Walker House. All of the staff members are women, and the veterans can get substance-abuse treatment, counseling, and help with budgeting and other life skills. "They're going to need more programs like this," said Boyd, who wants to reenlist. "All the women fighting in the Iraqi war - they're coming back and moving in with men. You don't want to, but you do it because you have no place to go. When I leave here, I won't have to move in with some man to make it." Of Veterans Affairs' 7,600 beds for homeless veterans nationwide, 1,700 are available for women in coed programs, and 206 are in women-only programs, up from 10 in 1998. The government keeps no statistics on the amount of money spent overall to assist homeless veterans, but it says the average cost per bed in a transitional-housing program is $11,000 a year. The risk of homelessness is two to four times as much for female veterans as for other women, according to the 2003 study coauthored by Rosenheck.Male veterans are not quite two times as likely to be homeless as are nonveteran men. Researchers are still investigating whether the increased risk is a result of military service or reflects a predisposition of the people who enlist. However, female veterans have higher rates of sexual trauma than nonveterans, according to Rosenheck. At least two other Veterans Affairs studies indicate that 15 percent to 23 percent of female veterans seeking VA services report having been sexually assaulted while on active duty. Many of these women will experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Female veterans, once they leave the military, also tend to live in an area for a shorter time that nonveterans, 11 years compared with 22 years, according to Rosenheck's study. They may also stay in the last city where they were deployed, leaving them without family support. Brandalyn Marks, 30, was unprepared to be on her own when she left the Air Force in 1997. During four years of service, Marks lived in a townhouse on Travis Air Force Base in Northern California and worked as a pharmacy technician. The military helped her pay for child care. But when she left the service, Marks had to move from the base into her mother's house in Triangle, Va., along with her 18-month-old daughter. She had trouble finding a
Readjusting as civilians often tough for troops
11 years ago
"A lot of guys come in here, but they’re not accepting something’s wrong," said counselor Homer Gallegos. "They come in asking about services, but they’re not acknowledging the need for mental help." A veteran of the Vietnam War, Gallegos has been counseling veterans with PTSD for 25 years. He is quick to point out that understanding of the condition — called "exhaustion" during the Civil War and more popularly "shell shock" during WWI — has improved vastly since he returned from Southeast Asia in the 1970s. At that time, PTSD had yet to make it into the medical literature and troops suffering from its symptoms for more than six months were told they suffered from a "pre-existing" condition. Now, Gallegos says, the military is far more proactive in dealing with PTSD and education about the syndrome has become part of debriefing protocol. Still, the problem of getting troops to admit to their problems hasn’t gotten any better. "The stories are the same: ‘I can’t communicate with my family,’ ‘I want to be alone,’" he said. "You can go through all the training you want, but you’re never prepared ... I don’t think any of us are ever prepared to deal with it." His colleague, Evaristo Flores, also a Vietnam veteran, agrees. "Whether it was two years ago or 30 years ago, the person is 18 years old and their personality is just starting to develop," he said. "We were in Vietnam and, clinically speaking, we’re talking about reactions to trauma." A couple months ago Gallegos received an unexpected phone call from a fellow veteran, whose two sons recently returned from Iraq. "He’s telling me he’s seeing changes in them, that they weren’t ready for this," he said. "They’re not socializing the way they used to, they’re changed. They’re no longer kids, they’re warriors." But, as staff at the Vet Center readily point out, reactions to war largely will depend on an individual’s coping mechanisms. At 40 years of age, Noe De La Fuente was one of the older members of the 1836th Transportation Company of the Texas National Guard, the same outfit that counts Rodriguez as a member. Married, with four young sons and daughters, De La Fuente has the size of a professional football player and the easygoing demeanor of a schoolteacher. For the past 10 years, he has worked as a rehab counselor in Harlingen, helping victims of severe trauma, which he says helped him deal with the stresses of combat in Iraq. "I think I had a greater feeling for what I was going through," he said. "When I was overseas, I was e-mailing the staff here and my family about what was happening. I wanted my wife to know what I was going through, but my intention wasn’t to worry her … My wife’s a rehab counselor, so you can’t pull the wool over her eyes." At the time, Debbie De La Fuente, 36, was busy raising their children on her own at the couple’s home in Harlingen. "It was something I had to adjust to. I had to be there for the kids and be strong. I had to buckle down and take care of them," she said. "It was difficult hearing about the war on the news and not knowing whether he was involved. But he would let me know where he was going, so when I saw something I could say, oh, he’s not there so he’s okay." But since Noe’s return, their conversations on what his experiences in Iraq have been limited to a single family dinner. "It was all our family, he talked about his experiences and he had pictures, and we all looked at those," she said. "He hasn’t said much since. I don’t think he really wants to talk about it." De La Fuente logged about 25 missions while stationed in Kuwait, running equipment and supplies all over Iraq. Last summer, his company was ambushed on the outskirts of Baghdad. Two explosives went off on the side of the road before insurgent forces opened fire on the 30-truck convoy. The lead trucks kept moving, but a disabled vehicle blocked the rest of the convoy, separating the group and breaking a major rule of combat. "It was the worst 20 minutes of my life," he said, his eyes starting to tear up. "Everybody was so strung up. It took me a long time to calm down. It was like, man this is crazy, this should not have happened. We’re professionals. We’re trained — this shouldn’t have happened." ——— James Osborne covers PSJA and general assignments for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4428. ============== FAIR USE for examining homelessness, ptsd, and veterans' issues, etc. ==============
Readjusting as civilians often tough for troops
11 years ago May 01, 2005 James Osborne The Monitor WESLACO — Last November, Marine reservist Lance Cpl. Israel Maldonado was patrolling the Syrian Desert of Iraq, facing almost daily shelling and regular firefights with insurgent forces he was ordered to kill. Standing in his parents’ newly remodeled kitchen after being medivaced out of the war zone late last year with a badly infected hand, Maldonado stood silently while his aunt and grandmother discussed the "horrifying" nature of the war they had watched on the news. "You know, for them, they’re so thankful to have me back," he said later. "When I first got back, they threw me a surprise Thanksgiving meal, because I’d missed Thanksgiving. I just wanted to walk out and leave. Being able to have all these things when my unit’s still over there, it didn’t feel right." As the war in Iraq enters into its third year, the first sizable wave of troops is starting to return to the Rio Grande Valley. Stories of reunions with friends and families and the simple pleasure of a barbecue in the park circulate across news pages and television programs, but the realities of transitioning back to civilian life are far from seamless. According to a 2003 study of military forces in Iraq by the U.S. Army surgeon general, 17 percent of troops screened positive for "behavioral health-related functional impairment" — medical-speak for conditions such as anxiety, depression and traumatic stress. Largely responsible are combat stressors, experiences like watching a village turned into ruins, falling under fire during an ambush or seeing the dead body of a fellow soldier, the report says. Although no comprehensive study exists of what happens to the troops when they return, Steve Holliday, a clinical psychologist with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, said many of them likely will be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is known to cause hyper alertness, irritability and even hallucinations in its sufferers. "The majority of troops in a combat situation for more than a few weeks have some symptoms of PTSD," he said. "Anytime you’re under that level of stress for that period of time, it will manifest itself in these ways." Though Holliday has yet to see a great number of troops from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he anticipates a surge in cases in the coming years. Crucial to their care will be prompt treatment, a lesson learned from failures in treating Vietnam veterans, many of whom went on to find even greater problems with drugs, homelessness and family turmoil, he said. "Part of it was administrative. The diagnosis didn’t exist. Plus, (the Vietnam veterans) were angry and disillusioned and avoiding big government," he said. "(PTSD) is a normal reaction to an unusual situation in long-term combat. We were 10 years too late in Vietnam … every war creates a generation of these folks and we don’t want to make lifelong psychiatric cases out of them." Juan Rodriguez, a 22-year-old guardsman from Mission who spent the past year running heavy equipment across Iraq, said he has not had any symptoms himself, but knows others who have. Just leaving the war zone was difficult, he admits. Sitting in a trendy coffee shop, sipping on an oversized cup of cappuccino, Rodriguez recounts renting a car in El Paso during debriefing and finding himself driving along the highway unable to leave the center lane or get the speedometer above 45 mph. That was the way they had to drive in Iraq, where roadside bombs pose a constant threat to military convoys. "I really didn’t react like some people with the paranoia," he said. "A lot of people got nightmares, because they’ve seen a lot more than I have … If I’d been in their position, I’m sure I’d have ended up the same. It’s pretty bad over there." No time to be scared On a recent evening, Maldonado sat watching cartoons with his 5-year-old son, a lifetime away from his duties as a member of the Marine infantry on the front lines of the war. The 27-year-old Marine admits he has had trouble adjusting since returning from Iraq. Nightmares are frequent, but even worse was the persistent guilt over his unit, which has returned but for whom Maldonado worried regularly while they remained in combat. "After a while you get used to being shot at every day. You never have the feeling you’re going to die today. You try to stay positive," he said. "When you get fired at, you don’t have time to be scared." But it wasn’t combat that put Maldonado on the casualty list. He woke up one morning after camping out in a sandstorm to find his right hand badly swollen, possibly the result of an insect bite. Never one to be sidelined by what he perceived to be a minor injury, Maldonado didn’t seek medical advice until weeks later. By then, the infection had spread down to the bone and he was told it could require amputation. After surgeries in both Iraq and a military hospital in Germany, Maldonado returned to the base at Twentynine Palms, Calif., where his unit had undergone training before being deployed the previous August. He managed to avoid amputation, but was told he would not be returning to Iraq. "I wanted to go back, very much so. It’s not so much I wanted to kill people. Honestly, it’s just brotherhood," he said. "I left some men with other leaders and someone (had) to pick up my slack. But thank God no one has gotten hurt. I never would have forgiven myself." Despite the nightmares and guilt, Maldonado has not sought counseling or confided in his family or friends, saying at the time of this interview that it was the first time he had discussed the matter. Such reluctance to open up about the stresses of combat is a problem counselors at the Vet Center in McAllen deal with every day. (continued next post)
Vero, thank you!
11 years ago
Above all, I appreciate your care and concern. How it seems to go (with me, at any rate..and this ptsd) that some days are easier than others. One moment I'll be ok..and the next will get blown away... but the biggest relief is knowing that I am not alone in this..
11 years ago

Yes homelessness can cause mental illness (well trigger it) and ptsd (that is also a mental illness) among other things....

IT is a trauma that people have to recover from and it does take years to do so...

hangin there sweety you will get through it.,..

Love you


Study: One in four foster children suffer from PTSD
11 years ago
Study: One in four foster children suffer from PTSD 9:22 AM "More than one in five foster care alumni were homeless at least once during the year after they left foster care." Wednesday, April 6, 2005 · Last updated 3:39 p.m. PT Study: One in four foster children suffer from PTSD By REBECCA COOK ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Former foster children are twice as likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as Iraq war veterans, a study of 659 Washington and Oregon foster care alumni shows. The children in the study suffered abuse or neglect before being removed from their parents' homes. The study doesn't look at how foster children fare compared to abused or neglected children who were not removed from their homes. Researchers said the results show the need for better mental health treatment and support for children who enter the foster care system deeply scarred by previous trauma. "We are alarmed," said Ruth Massinga, president and CEO of the Seattle-based Casey Family Programs, which serves and advocates for foster children. "As a country we are not doing right by these children." The study released Wednesday says that while many foster children beat the odds and succeed as adults, most struggle with mental health, employment and money problems. Researchers from Harvard Medical School, the University of Washington, the University of Michigan and Casey Family Programs reviewed cases of 659 adults, ages 20-33, who had lived in foster care between 1988 and 1998. They interviewed 479 of them. Most of the study subjects entered foster care because they were abused or neglected by their birth parents, and all spent at least one year in care. Even though one-third said they were mistreated in foster care, 81 percent said they felt loved. More than half the study participants reported mental illness, compared to less than a quarter of the general population. Foster children are especially at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder: 25 percent of respondents had it. National studies show that 12 percent to 13 percent of Iraq war veterans and 15 percent of Vietnam war veterans suffer from PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder happens to some people who experience or witness life-threatening events such as military combat, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults. People with PTSD often relive the trauma through nightmares and flashbacks and feel detached or estranged. Researchers measured PTSD in former foster children using a diagnostic interview developed by the World Health Organization. "The scars of those experiences stay with these people throughout their lives," said Harvard Medical School Professor Ron Kessler, one of the lead study authors. He noted that PTSD is harder to shake for foster children than for other people. Former foster children are also twice as likely to be depressed (20 percent) as the general population (10 percent). Foster children are traumatized both by living with abusive parents and by being removed from their homes, the study says. "It's really hard for someone to imagine what it's like to be removed from their family," said Mary Anne Herrick, a foster care alumni from Seattle who consulted on the study. "They end up not staying in the same home but moving from one home to the next home, to the next - that kind of instability has really negative effects on a young adult's mental health and educational achievement." Herrick considers herself one of the lucky ones - with a full scholarship and support from her older sister, she graduated from college and earned a master's degree in social work. The study found that only 2 percent of foster children completed college. A third of former foster children are at or below the poverty line, three times the national poverty rate. More than one in five foster care alumni were homeless at least once during the year after they left foster care. Researchers said states know how to improve the system, and the challenge is finding the money. They prescribe better mental health treatment, more support with school and basic living skills, help for foster and adoptive parents, and better stability for foster children - meaning children should stay in one home. "It is not the failure of a single individual and it is not a failure of a single system," Massinga said. "We are not doing enough to work together. If we are doing the right thing most of the time, most of the children will succeed." Nationally, about 800,000 children a year enter foster care. Every year about 8,000 children in Washington and 5,000 children in Oregon enter foster care. The director of foster care in Washington state, Uma Ahluwalia, said the study has valuable information. "It's a sound research product. It validates a lot of our thinking," she said. Foster children, she said, "need additional supports to transition into adulthood." Despite the challenges, Herrick said people should recognize that foster children can beat the odds. "We're still moving forward, we're still living life," she said. "We are resilient." --- Casey Family Programs: ======= FAIR USE =======
11 years ago
is all I got to say. 
Hei, Anniina:-)
11 years ago
First of all, THANK YOU for replying to my post. Almost immediately, things begin to feel a bit less lonely knowing there's a friendly spirit listening. You asked: "So what can be done...Of course the best solution would be if you're able to get your relationship back on track. Do you still got some faith in this, or does it feel completly hopeless? Living in a dysfunctional relationship can be truely hellish, I know that for sure." I agree, Anniina, getting my relationship back on track WOULD be the best solution. What it would take is for me and my other half to re-definine our relationship. I got married, having the pre-conception that it was a traditional, closed marriage. My other half wants an "open" marriage and has had that viewpoint from the very first moment of the marriage ceremony! . Well, the way this open marriage would work out is that he would be the only one having other relationships. I'm just not interested in anyone else in that way. At any rate, as far as living here in Norway goes, I really like Norway and Norwegians. There is a lot to both love and respect in this country. Living arrangement wise, I am getting something to live on from the Trygdekontoret (spelling?) so the rent is paid. Our needs are simple, too. I really do hope we are able to work things out. One of the things we both agree on is that it would be so wonderful to live in a community of like-minded friends and expand our circle of friends. Returning to the U.S. would be just about my last alternative, as long as Bush is in office. I just can not imagine returning to a Police State. Norway, on the other hand, is HUMAN- maybe not perfect (tell me what country IS, lol) but human and caring. The Land of the Peace Prize has a lot going for it. I think it's GREAT to have an ex-homeless sister a train ride away in Oslo! If ever you get to Tønsberg, say hello please, we'd love it. In the meantime, I'm just going to keep hanging in there and see if my husband and I can't push our way out through these tough times.
11 years ago
I have to reply to this even though I don't know what I can say to help you. Its getting to me cause I know what it's like;the distress, the sudden crying and panicky feelings.As you already know I've been homeless meself and I went through a lot of the same reactions

So what can be done...Of course the best solution would be if you're able to get your relationship back on track. Do you still got some faith in this, or does it feel completly hopeless? Living in a dysfunctional relationship can be truely hellish, I know that for sure.

The "alternatives" you're listing does't really sound like alternatives at all. I was wondering whether you have any possibilities in Norway. You've lived here for a quite a few years so maybe you got some rights? Can you go on benefit here if you need it? Hmm I'm not sure about the rules, all I know is that when I were living on the street in London I  could'nt just go back to Norway cause after one year away I had already lost my rights. If this goes for the US as well there will be a seriously difficult situation waiting for you there. On the other hand maybe you dont find much reason to stay in Norway if your relationship breaks up and you got no other connections here...

I really want to help somehow...If this keeps on heading in the wrong direction you can always contact me if you think there's anything I can do. After all we're both fellow ex-homeless...AND neighbors. he-he.

Stress Buttons Pushed
11 years ago
I brought this topic back out of being archived because some of my ptsd symptoms have been triggered by difficulties I am having in my current relationship here in Norway. This has been going on for almost two months to the point where I am not certain about the outcome or future. There is a dearth of alternative choices in my life at the moment. Anyway.... Some of the symptoms are insomnia, crying unexpectedly "for no reason", depression, hopelessness, and fear of becoming homeless again. The thought of being homeless again brings up fears of dying in the cold or being attacked and/or set on fire. Not too much over-dramatization there or exaggeration, unfortunately, as homeless people are subjected all too often to this kind of hate crime. Last night I wondered how much a planet ticket to the U.S. would cost- and I sat there in my mind walking through all the steps in the process of "going back home". 1) I must realize first that there IS no home. If I returned to the United States, I'd be a homeless citizen. Again. And not only that, but in worse circumstances from what I hear. 2)If I visited the U.S. MAYBE I could stay one week with my younger brother. 3)Trying to re-visit my parents and my childhood home is a good, working definition of insanity. They, and it, were dysfunctional the first time around! What would've changed? What would it solve to visit them except to be subjected to the same verbal, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual abuse I underwent the first time around? 4)In between crying jags, feeling numb and exhausted. Anyway, not too much more to say right now- just identifying what's going on with me...
PTSD and homelessness
12 years ago
One thing I have so far not mentioned at all is the toll that stress takes on homeless people. Physical Stress: 1)exposure to the elements- extreme heat, cold- lack of drinking water 2)lack of deep, restful sleep- always the awareness that one can be attacked, beaten, set on fire... or else, woken up by police and harassed, arrested Emotional Stress 3)exhaustion, numbness 4)fear 5)exclusion by society/ridicule/contempt 6)total lack of privacy 7)hopelessness Mental Stress 1)feeling overwhelmed by situation, not knowing where to start And wow, I am having a hard time even writing about this. There are all kinds of results in a google search for vietnam vets and ptsd, police and ptsd, rape victims and ptsd, victims of bullying and ptsd, and virtually NOTHING about what stress does to homeless people. When I first got back into my own apartment with my husband, I just remember the first thing I did was to pull all the curtains shut. They stayed shut for basically a year- I NEEDED to feel that I had my privacy back. I needed to feel that I had a home again, with doors that could lock. I also felt guilty for HAVING a home once again-all I could think of were the millions of people who still didn't have a place to call their own. (survivor guilt) On top of the exhaustion that set in, were deep feelings of depression from badly strained ties with my family in the U.S. My feelings of trust were gone- I had always thought that family was family, and that they would make sure that I would have a roof over my head. Silly me. Not one family member in the US offered my husband and me even one night's stay under one of their roofs. I kept asking myself "what did I DO?" because I didn't drink, use drugs, steal or do anything else bad except to experience an accident and injury. These are resentments I still deal with and write about. It's going to take a while-basically my trust is gone on a very deep level. This extends not only to members of my family, but to society in general. Anyway, I wrote all my feelings down in one huge, long poem called "Raymond Street" (a long street in Pasadena, California).
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