View Full Version : I think I have PTSD - but I need help

February 22nd, 2014, 04:11 PM
Hello everyone!

Ever since I was in 7th grade (I'm a sophomore in HS right now) I wanted to be a doctor. In case you aren't aware, one of the most important things a person has to do in order to become a doctor is to complete a semester or two of Gross Anatomy, meaning you dissect a cadaver (aka a human). I was exposed to cadavers at a young age (around 6) when I went to go see Body Worlds and I thought it was really one of the coolest things I have ever seen. So in 7th grade, I watched my first cadaver dissection on YouTube and I thought it was amazing as well. It never really caused any problems.

Last January, my Honors Biology offered us a chance to view a pre-dissected cadaver and have a hands-on experience with the anatomy of a human. I signed up for it and I took the after school anatomy course he offered to prepare for it.

The day before the actual dissection, I was really scared. It was weird...I was nervous but excited at the same time. I forgot to include that I have a HUGE fear of death. The concept of death, just death itself scares me (which is ironic considering I'm catholic) so much.

We walked into the hospital and I was almost shaking which is bizarre. I wasn't feeling that scared (just typing this is making me feel cold and scared) yesterday, so it was really weird. We went down a series of hallways and finally, it hit me. The smell of formaldehyde smacked me in the face and we walked in to see a body bag on a metal table. I looked away as they opened it but as people commented on how it looked, I slowly looked at it and it wasn't too bad. About 45 minutes in, I began to have a panic attack so they took me out of the room and gave me some food so I didn't pass out. As I came back in, I managed to do the rest of the lab and I went home fine (hungry as hell though, and everyone who has worked with formalin can understand my pain xD).

TBH, I was fine for a couple weeks, but then I noticed that I began to have nightmares about mutilated dead bodies. Heads hanging on by just a little skin, people using chainsaws to cut off limbs, things like that. Some of these dreams even had friends/family, making me feel even worse. Throughout the school day, I'd randomly get images of these bodies and I would almost pass out. I noticed these images tended to pop up in my head right before I sleep as well. So since I was scared that if a cadaver was going to be the reason I didn't go to med school, I visited my school interventionist. She simply put that she didn't really know what to say since she has never really dealt with anything of this sort. She taught me a way to get rid of the images (which the technique worked for a little, but then the images overpowered after about 4 months).

Most recently, I had a debate meet in a school, and as I was waiting for a judge to enter the room, I found out the room was an anatomy classroom. I waited for a bit, then I entered the room to find the smell of formaldehyde - something I haven't smelled for the last 7 months. I had a panic attack and almost passed out, so they immediately got me out of the room. I was fine after about 10 minutes (not to mention I did win the round :yeah:). I just recently had an incident where I went to go visit my g-ma in the hospital...but by coincidence, it was the same hospital that I had my cadaver lab in. When I walked into the area where we went down to go to the room, I began to feel uneasy and almost passed out.

What do I have and what should I do? I'm scared considered I wanted to go to school to become a doctor..and since I'm a sophomore...I don't really have a ton of time to find something else. Help?

February 22nd, 2014, 04:41 PM
I don't think it's a PTSD since there's no actual trauma, (no expert though),

I just think you have developed a severe phobia.

You may have some kind of anxiety disorder that somehow linked to your fear of death.
(And the anxiety took time to develop, which is why it didn't affect you earlier, just my theory)

It is not uncommon for anxiety to come with fear of death.

Maybe you need to do what I did;
find a way to mentally fight and win of your fear of death;
then you can work on your other fears.

February 27th, 2014, 08:05 AM
Yeah as cheesee said I don't think thats PTSD. Unless there was some trauma or something involved then yeah it's just a phobia. I couldn't imagine seeing a dead body. It'd be hard to deal with so I can imagine it would have been hard.

March 7th, 2014, 12:50 AM
It's actually not a totally uncommon thing for religious people to be afraid of death. Don't feel bad about that, it's kind of natural, be you theist or atheist. :P

Yeah, I agree with these guys. I have PTSD, but I was raped, molested, and abused. There was trauma, and I think that's generally a requirement for the diagnosis to begin with. (Soldiers have gone to war, rape victims have trauma, and so on.)

I'd say that you have an extreme phobia as well, though thoughts like these can ALSO be the result of obsessive tendencies- possibly even OCD. (I can relate to the graphic, recurring thoughts and dreams, and I possibly have OCD, or OCD tendencies.)

Also, no offense, but try to relax about 'not having any time' to decide what you want to do. I'm a frickin' senior (second time over, soon to be third if I don't get my butt in gear- don't worry toots, this has nothing to do with my indecision on picking a career path! I'm just struggling with severe amounts of procrastination, and ADHD. The career bit is entirely different.) and I don't know what I want to do yet.

I've gone from wanting to be a professional chef (like the big sis- but then she married ANOTHER professional chef, and well three chefs is a bit much for one family.) to wanting to be a teacher (too much schooling, among other things) to maybe considering art school (NAH) to thinking about possibly doing something computer-related (still considering) or graphic-design related (once again, still considering) to having a business major (HIGHLY considering) in what, three years? I mean, I was hellbent on becoming a teacher until like last summer. Things can seriously change within the course of a few months when you're a teenager!

I'd suggest therapy (Yeah, I tend to suggest therapy a lot. It can help to talk to someone, and it can absolutely help to talk to someone who actually knows what they're talking about and is trained to help you. Also, medication doesn't seem practical for this case, and I typically only advocate medication in severe cases, or as a last resort.) and looking into meditation. However, (understandably) meditation is hard to do when you're A. in the middle of something, and B. in the middle of anxiety/panic/what have you, so that might be a little hard.

March 17th, 2014, 03:00 AM
I have PTSD, and I think, at least from my perspective that PTSD goes a fair deal deeper than that. However viewing a dead body can be traumatic.

Never the less a label won't do shit for you other than well...label you lol. So I don't get hung up on a 'special sticker'.

I would reccomend counseling. This can help PTSD label or not. I think you still stand a great chance at becoming a Dr. Exposure can help as well. Have you tryed or gotten to the point of a student assistant at an ER yet? You would learn a lot and be exposed to a lot. I think counseling could help so you can work through your fear.