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Actor Noah Wyle and Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) survivor Kellie Greene are campaigning for increased awareness of PTSD so that those who suffer from it can get the help they need.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
with Ms. Kellie Greene

Ms. Kellie Greene is the National Spokesperson for the Pfizer/YWCA "Moving Past Trauma PTSD Community Outreach Program and founder of SOAR (Speaking Out About Rape).

For Kellie Greene, January 18, 1994 was the day of a life-changing tragedy:  she was brutally raped by a stranger inside her apartment in Orlando, Florida.  The intruder followed her to her home, hid in her apartment, smashed her on the head with a tea kettle, and held a knife to her neck before he raped her.

Following the rape, Ms. Greene had flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, uncontrollably crying, mood swings and feelings of disorientation and isolation.  "A deep sadness overcame me," she said.  "Some days I didn't even want to get out of bed". 

Ms. Greene saw a rape counselor for five months, but she realized her condition was not improving.  She was unable to leave her home or answer the telephone after dark.  She spent hours trying to make relatively simple decisions, such as what to wear or what to eat for lunch.

With encouragement from her mother and her boyfriend, Kellie sought help from a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after only one visit.  PTSD is a serious medical conditions that can develop after experiencing, witnessing or even learning about a trauma such as rape, domestic violence, a serious accident, a natural disaster, or the unexpected death of a loved one.  It is not often talked about, but PTSD may affect as many as one out of 13 people at some point in their lives.

The good news about PTSD is that it is treatable with psychotherapy and medication, often with positive results.  "The medication took off the edge that made each day feel like a roller coaster ride and enabled me to focus on healing", said Ms. Greene.  "Now I wake up in the morning and know with great confidence that I can tackle what lies ahead".

"It was such a relief to realize that I had a medical condition that could be treated," said Ms. Greene.  "But I still thought that taking medication meant I was weak.  Now I know that without treatment, I could never have been able to fully recover what I had lost.  The medication helped take away the numbness.  And, with psychotherapy and the support of my family and friends, I was able to regain control of my life".

Since being treated for PTSD, Ms. Greene has tackled many of her personal goals, including helping many others who have PTSD.  In 1999, she founded SOAR-Speaking Out About  Rape-a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of victims of sexual assault.  SOAR is committed to raising awareness about rape and its consequences, including PTSD.

Ms. Greene also coauthored Florida's "Sexual Predator Prosecution Act of 2000".  The law mandates consecutive sentences, rather than simultaneous sentences, for any repeat sexual offenders.  Ms. Greene also helped pass Florida legislation that prohibits hospitals from charging rape victims for forensic teams. 

Ms. Kelli Greene is a true champion of women's health.  As a result of her efforts, Ms. Greene earned the Survivor Activist Award from the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.   But she has a unique way to celebrate her accomplishments:  Ms. Greene now marks each January 18-the anniversary of her rape-with an annual SOARing skydive.  "It was important for me to associate January 18 with something positive in my life," she said.  "Now, I've created a memory that is totally mine." 

Click here to read Noah Wyle's Celebrity Speak-Out column on PTSD. 

Created: 5/2/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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