A foreshortened future

heart cloud

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters

Cardiac psychologist and heart attack survivor Dr. Stephen Parker recently described a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that rang a bell for him after his own cardiac event. The PTSD symptom is called “a sense of a foreshortened future“. In other words, after a traumatic event – in this case, a heart attack – the patient “does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span.”  As Dr. Steve tells his own story of this symptom:

“Three months after the heart attack, I went to Home Depot to buy something for the house. I walked inside, saw the plethora of nice things to make a nice house, and started feeling extremely depressed.

“What was the point? I knew I was going to die within a short time.  

“I walked out without buying anything. I could hear a critical voice in my head repeating: ‘Get over it.’ But I could no more get over it at that point than I could fly to the moon. (Which is about where my mind and soul were hanging out).

“There is nothing like the sense of a foreshortened future to un-motivate behavior.”

© 2010 Stephen Parker


Q:  Have you too experienced fear of a ‘foreshortened future’ after a traumatic event?


4 thoughts on “A foreshortened future

  1. For years I suffered with this not knowing what it was called or why I had it… I was kidnapped and almost murdered. 10 years on I am alive and happy with many kids and a great husband, yet I live day by day feeling life is too short and I get depressed. Now I know I suffer from foreshortened future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing Dr. Steve’s observations. This is exactly how my wife felt too after her cardiac arrest, impossible to make even minor plans or decisions because she seemed despondent because at any minute she might well have another “episode” and die.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. This is the first time I’ve ever read of this as an actual clinical “symptom”. I have had this exact same feeling since my ICD was implanted. I face every day with dread, wondering if this is the day my ICD will go off and I’ll end up in the E.R. again, so better not make any plans today, better stick close to home where I can call 911 easily, just in case. Like waiting for the end to come. Thank you for this, it’s almost a relief to know this is not just me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I too have had this ominous sense of dread about a “foreshortened future” since having my heart attack. I hesitate about even making Thanksgiving plans because in the back of my mind I’m not at all sure I’ll even be here.

    Liked by 1 person

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