If You Could Read My Mind: A PTSD Memoir

David_Elijah_Nahmod_BTR_thumb_thumbDavid-Elijah Nahmod is a film critic and reporter in San Francisco. His articles appear regularly in The Bay Area Reporter and SF Weekly. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

David developed Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD) after surviving gay conversion therapy as a child and has found that many in the LGBT community suffer from severe, often untreated emotional disorders due to the extreme anti-gay traumas they endured. This column chronicles his journey.

The Shock of My Life

For about a year or two I’ve been dealing with memory loss issues. I’ve been late with press deadlines. I’d forget to be ready for interview appointments.

“We already talked about that yesterday.” my closest friend would tell me. “Don’t you remember?”

“No, I don’t,” was my reply.

It was getting out of hand. I knew I had a serious problem when a few of my editors told me that I needed to be more mindful of deadlines and that my constant tardiness had become an issue.

My first thought was chilling: was I in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease? I had recently sixty years old, a little on the young side for Alzheimer’s, but certainly in the age bracket where this was a possibility. Fortunately, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (Bless your heart, President Obama) I now have the best health coverage I’ve ever had, and so I went to see a neurologist.

Alzheimer’s was ruled out at the first meeting. The doctor asked me if I ever forgot my address, names of my friends, or how to get from one place to the other. “No to all of the above,” I told her. She began to ask me a lot of questions about my physical and mental health history, and of course my PTSD diagnosis came up. The doctor asked me many questions about my PTSD symptoms and what caused it to develop.

As I recounted in the very first edition of this column, my PTSD was originally caused by my having been subjected to gay conversion therapy during childhood. My parents, horrified that I might not be straight, had me committed when I was 8 years old. While in the hospital I was given drugs–like Thorazine–which are now banned from use in children. My “doctor”, who wore a Yarmulkah at all times, quoted the Torah (the Hebrew version of the Old Testament) to me during “therapy”. This was the beginning of many years of religious mental abuse in which I was regularly assured about how “sick” I was–the abuse continued until I moved out of my parents home at age 19. It never fully stopped until I cut them out of my life when I was thirty. When I was around 15 I had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs I was given–I was left temporarily blinded.

The result of this horrific childhood was a forty year battle against the psychotic episodes which PTSD can cause. My symptoms, which had been dormant for a few years, came roaring back when, in between 2008-2010, a series of gay and lesbian bloggers inflamed anti-gay and anti-Semitic hate against me for nothing more than a cheap laugh. As I recounted in Times of Israel, gay activists laughed when I needed police intervention and was left in a suicidal state as a result of their behavior. As recently as 2014, which was four years after the police intervened on my behalf, gay activists continued to forward their own inflammatory lies to my editors, hoping to take my livelihood away from me–I was told that I’m an “anti-gay bigot” for not supporting such abominable conduct.

Concurrent with that horror, I was forced to endure a five year campaign of bullying and slander at the hands of a psychotic fan of the classic TV series Dark Shadows. Said fan, who claims to have been the “best friend” of DS star Jonathan Frid (she wasn’t) was enraged because I penned an article in which I acknowledged the homosexuality of Jonathan Frid. Her actions included contacting dozens of people, including personal friends of mine and my former partner’s children, to “warn” them about me and to tell them how “sick” I was. She also threatened in writing to contact my editors.

The result of all this abuse, possibly hundreds of incidents over a period of years caused so much stress that I now have brain trauma. This is the cause of my memory loss issues.

Bullying has consequences. Many kids have killed themselves after being subjected to the same kind of abuse that I was targeted for. Bullying also affects adults: in 2014 Australian TV personality Charlotte Dawson committed suicide at age 47 after she endured years of cyberbullying. Yet social media companies such as Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and Google continue to knowingly look the other way while their platforms are used for these purposes.

It’s particularly disheartening to see so many gay activists gleefully and recklessly inflicting these abuses on other LGBT people.

In May I’ll begin treatment for my newly diagnosed condition. I’ll be an outpatient at the Ray Dolby Brain Health Center at Davies Hospital in San Francisco. My doctor has already ordered an MRI, after which I’ll be placed on a memory boosting drug. Though the condition is not life threatening, it is chronic, and I may have to live with it for the rest of my life.

Bullying has consequences. Bullying destroys lives. Bullying kills.

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