This is a guest post I did for Rambling Mamma. You can check out her blog here….
This is my rawest post to date. This was not only my most personal post I have ever written, but also the hardest to decide whether or not to post on both Rambing Mamma’s blog as well as here. It is a look into my own private world with no filters or sugar coating.
In the end I decided to post it as is.
My hopes in posting this, is to give you the reader, food for thought. PTSD is a growing disorder. Soldiers, people that have been victims of rape, domestic violence and other life threatening and catastrophic events, those that have faced life threatening medical issues (like myself), and finally anyone that has ever faced anything so traumatic that it has left them shattered, broken, and feeling ashamed, are just some of the faces that this unbelievable disorder has affected. It often leaves you feeling isolated, alone, helpless, afraid, and broken. I hope this post gives you a better understanding of what a survivor of PTSD goes through. In my opinion, it does not matter what caused the PTSD in the first place, the end results are the same.
We NEVER asked for it.
We NEVER wanted it.
We will FOREVER be changed by it…..
It’s Mindy from Simplicity Redesigned. Terri asked me if I would write a guest post for her blog again. I, of course, said count me in…..
What you are about to read is my life….
My own personal Hell….
From the inside looking out (Yes, I mean from my view of life) I am like most women, I am a survivor of life. We each have a burden, obstacle, cross that we bare that we are either attempting to or have already overcome. Something we may or may not want to talk about, accept, hide from, confront, etc. Sometimes we are lucky and the effects of what we have gone through are a distant memory for us. Ones that we have been able to learn from and move on from. Sometimes we are grateful for the lessons and sometimes we are left wondering why the lessons happened to us in the first place. But we have all survived it none the less. Hopefully stronger then we were before the lesson took place.
I am an avid blogger, homeschooling mama to 2 of my 3 incredible daughters. I am a wife, friend, daughter and sister. I live in a beautiful home that I have been putting my love, sweat, tears and blood into, literally, for almost 8 yrs. I am an optimist, perfectionist with OCD tendencies, and proud of it all. I would rather laugh at my mistakes and learn from them, then cry and dwell on all that I have done wrong. There is however, ONE thing in my life that seems to be something that no matter how much I face off against it, no matter how much I fight to understand it, no matter how many years I go through therapy, it is still there….taunting me, affecting me in ways I never dreamt. It almost cost me my marriage more than once. It has made me question myself not only as a parent and wife but also a person almost daily.
It will be 4 yrs ago this month that my life was flipped upside down. My world shattered. My strength tested. My marriage tried, my effectiveness to be a parent called into question more then once. I will never be the same. Am I stronger for it? I am not so sure yet. Is there a cure for what I have? I am inclined to say no, although I have heard to the contrary. I am a survivor of a form of PTSD. I call myself a survivor because I have spent the past 4 yrs fighting a battle and defining who I am. Everyday is a struggle to understand my triggers and what I need to do to stay one step ahead my PTSD. I am determined that although I have it, I will not be it’s victim.
When you think about PTSD, your first thought is military (soldier). Your second is rape / domestic abuse. Your third would be something like a car wreck or airplane crash. What you will not think about is the kind I have….Delayed Onset Chronic Medical PTSD. Try saying that 3 times fast!
My journey began shortly after the birth of my youngest daughter. I have a genetic blood mutation called Double or Compound MTHFR Heterozygous C677T and A1298C mutation. Basically it means that my blood LOVES to clot and that I have a REALLY hard time getting rid of toxins in my body. When I was pregnant with my daughter and even afterwards, I was on the HIGHEST blood thinners allowed. I knew that something was not right. I began to feel differently. Both physically and mentally. I could not go up the stairs without being winded, I could not go down the stairs without the same feeling. It was getting to the point that even moving a step was causing me to panic. At one point, I went to my doctor and said I was not sure what was going on, but I needed HELP! My hubby wanted to actually have me committed to a psychiatric hospital. My doc finally sent me for testing that revealed that I had I passed hundreds, if not thousands, of clots through my heart and into both of my lungs. One was the length of a pencil and the width of your pinky, leaving my lungs and heart now permanently damaged. I was sent to our local hospital before the tests were even finished via flashing lights, sirens, and a big boxy type truck with people looking almost as scared as I was. I left a really confused and scared hubby (I should also tell you that only 2 days prior he had a vasectomy and was only allowed to lift X amount of weight.) with our newest bundle of joy that he was NOT supposed to pick up in any way at the testing site. We had to call My Mom In Law (MIL for short) to come stay with us for the second time in 3 months. I was in the local hospital for about 2-3 days before I was then sent to a second hospital, because the local hospital had NO idea what to do with me and a little winter storm named Snowmagddon was about to hit us. I went to the second hospital via flashing lights, sirens, and a big boxy type truck with a different set of people looking almost as scared as I was. I was placed into ICU for 10 LONG days there. I spent them clinging to life literally. I remember several times begging for death to come so that I would stop hurting. The pain in my heart and lungs were incredible. I was on oxygen to breath and in and out of consciousness. I was subjected to test after test. I was finally wheeled out of one test and told to sign a paper as I would probably not survive the surgery I was being wheeled into immediately. I realized that I never got to say good bye to my daughters and my husband. I would never watch my children grow up. I would never help my oldest daughter get ready for prom or watch her walk across the stage as she graduated. I would never be here to help her pick where she would go to college. I would not be here to hold her hand and walk her through all that life would put her through. I had not finished getting her ready to face the world. My middle daughter was only in Kindergarten. I had not even begun to help her realize her potential and to follow her dreams. I would not be there as she discovered her dreams. And finally my youngest…she was only 3 months old. I would NEVER hear her voice, see her walk for the first time. Help her to grow tall and strong. All three would not be ready for me to leave them to face what the cruelty in life could throw at them. I had not taught them how to be positive and to fight for themselves. To be their own advocate in life. To be strong and independent. How to LOVE themselves and each other. How could I leave all this to my husband??? He was not going to do it right. I knew in THAT exact moment that I was not going to make it if I did not will it to be so. I would die on that table never doing everything that I needed to do to teach my daughters to be the people that they were meant to be….not the people I wanted them to be. I began to meditate and pray. I began to tell my body to HEAL. I asked The Universe to help me to know what to do to live. Not as I had been before this, but to live up to what I was supposed to be.
I survived the surgery. There were complications that left me weaker still. However, I began to heal.
The Governor of Maryland declared a state of emergency. The tiny storm I mentioned earlier had hit leaving 35 inches of snow in our area. The hospital was on lock down. And as luck would have it, that meant that those staff that were in the hospital were stuck in the hospital. No matter what! Great time for the flu to hit, huh??? But hit it did with a VENGEANCE through the ICU floor. Needless to say, once I was released from the hospital, within days, I got it. I was told DO NOT THROW UP! I would release the rest of the clots still in my lungs and my heart and lungs would not be able to handle it. It would either cause me to have a stroke or kill me. How do you NOT throw up? I did survive the flu / stomach bugs the first, second, third, plus times I got it. Each time I got it, it lasted about a week plus and it damaged my heart and lungs more. OMFG. THE. PAIN!!!! My incredible MIL moved in with us a third time so that I could finally heal.
About 6 months later, I got the flu / stomach bug again. This time though I was a little bit healthier. I could feel that I was mentally not right. I was feeling panic when ever my heart would race, if someone started to get a cold, etc. I hid it though. I was afraid my hubby would have me committed this time for sure. I did not understand what was happening.
I started to focus on getting us healthy and keeping us that way. Not to an extreme of a SPOTLESS bleached house, but I was pretty damn close! In my mind, if you get sick, it lowers your immune system. Lowering your immune system means that you can get the flu. Getting the flu means my heart will ache and I will run the risk of passing another clot. It will damage my heart and lungs more. This time it may mean I will have a stroke or that it will kill me. I can not die yet. I am not done in this world. I have not seen or done all that I want to do.
This is what my mind thinks over and over again daily from the time school starts back until May when flu season is over with. I managed to hide it for almost 2 1/2 yrs. I fought back the panic attacks, the need to scrub things, pulling my kids out of all extra curricular activities. Doing the simplest things and trying to hide whatever was going on from everyone….especially from my husband.
I finally found a therapist and I was diagnosed with Delayed Onset Chronic Medical PTSD. It was caused from my near death experience in the hospital with the blood clots. My triggers are not dark alleys, gun shots, violence. Mine is illness. Yep, bring a cold into my house and watch me pull out a can of whoop ass on you in about 5 seconds! It has happened 2x now. It was not pretty. Something I am not proud of doing.
Day to day is a struggle for me, even after a year plus of therapy.
I am constantly feeling guilty, ashamed, less than. I do my best to fight the depression that comes with PTSD and being a stay at home Mom that homeschools.
I know that I should be stronger and able to fight this. However, it is crippling. I am alone in this struggle. It is my weakness and I am not much for weakness.
My family doctor thinks I am depriving my children a life. I know this from the comments she makes when I take them for their physicals. Needless to say, we go to the doctors office next to NEVER now! You know it is bad if I take us to a doctors office! ER is even worse! There are NO words to define the sheer TERROR I get from just pulling into the parking lot. How I tremble when I walk into the sliding doors. How my body temp rises causing me to sweat, the nerves that go across the tops of my shoulders and down the spine tingle with little pricks of pain, my stomach begins to twist and turn, my brain begins to go into overdrive with everything that will happen to me if I get sick or anyone else in my home.
Heaven help me if anyone in my family sneezes because Hell is too afraid to deal with me! My family could be sick with anything and they will NOT tell me they are sick. They will suffer through days of a sore throat before finally saying anything to me. At that point it is too late to do much of anything but watch as it runs it’s course through the family one by one. This is what I have done to my family. They are all afraid to say anything to me when they feel at their worst.
As a mother, as a wife, as a person….this hits me harder then any fist ever could.
I can not watch the news or read any kind of news related to illness. Especially when it mentions the flu. I am so thankful we do not have satellite or cable TV anymore because the ads that they play this time of year are all geared to cold and flu.
We joined a brand new gym and I could not handle it. Too many germs. Too many people not taking care of themselves and wiping down the equipment after they use it. I tried to explain my fears to my family. My husband was less then supportive. There was a lot of fighting. In the end we quit the gym. The fights were not worth it for him anymore I guess. It was another notch against me.
My kids are not in extra curricular sports anymore in the fall, winter, or early spring. This one really gets me. I look at my 2 youngest that are homeschooled, it KILLS me inside to no end that I can not do this for them. I tried this year. I almost signed them up for soccer. Hubby and I were going on our first vacation alone EVER. They would have either missed several practices or my poor MIL (who was watching them) would have had to figure out the schedule, where they meet, and which field for which kid. On top of that we would have had to volunteer for something on both the kids teams. She would have been responsible for that as well. We made the decision to skip it this year. It was not long until the emails started pouring in about 1/2 the teams not being able to make practices and games because of stomach viruses. This went on for weeks as it kept getting passed back and forth between the teams. All I could think of was THANK YOU! When we pulled my middle daughter out of public school, she lost all her friends. I mean as in they were not allowed to play with her anymore because she was homeschooled. I could not find any secular homeschool groups in the area that wanted anything to do with us. They are such a TIGHT knit community.
My oldest daughter is afraid to have any friends over to the house EVER again. I lost it on her 2x when she brought friends over that were sick. She has an auto immune disease that is rarely found in people her age. The PTSD kicked in hardcore with both of the friends. I was in awe that they would even want to go anywhere as sick as they were. Both actually laid around my house and were beyond miserable!
My hubby…Where to begin there??? PTSD has almost cost me my marriage. There is a part of me that still wonders if it will. He looks at me differently now. I am broken. I know it, he knows it. It irritates him a lot. My weakness and my inability to get over this. It happened to me 4 years ago. I wish that I could more than anyone knows. He, like me, has no sympathy for the weak. He will tell his friends that he gets my PTSD, if they find out about it and that he is supportive of it. I think in his own way he thinks he is. But he really isn’t. He gets easily PISSED at me over it. We rarely go anywhere together or talk anymore. My PTSD white elephant in the room, always there and no one wanting it. He thinks I should be able to get over this on my own without counseling. After a year plus in counseling he sees absolutely no improvements in my PTSD. WOW! I beg to differ there! If I bring up my PTSD, he shuts it down, dismisses it, ignores me, walks away, etc. The last time my oldest was sick, it took her 3 days to say something to me. I was apologizing to her, yet again, and what she could do to get relief when he said something to the effect of NO ONE in the house ever tells me when they are sick anymore and they never will. I get it. This is not what I wanted. When we went to Las Vegas, I began to have a panic attack as we were boarding the flight. I was listening to people cough and sneeze all through the line. There was no sympathy from him toward me. Only disapproval. I think that is what hurts the most. The one thing that makes it THAT much harder to deal with. The one person that is supposed to support me the most….doesn’t.
I am always afraid that I am one step from being committed or having my kids taken away from me. What am I doing to their thought processes? How bad am I screwing up my kids when they reach adulthood? These are questions I ask myself daily. The one thing that they will NEVER understand is how much I take everything they say, how they treat me, and how they act towards me in regards to my PTSD to heart. Every time I see disapproval, hurt, ignorance, etc, it is NOTHING compared to how I feel about myself in regards to my PTSD.
I hate what PTSD has done to my life. What I have allowed it to do to me and my family. I hate the realization that this will never go away. I will always have PTSD. I will, however find ways to adapt to it and learn to relax as I go on through my life. I am hopeful of that. I know that the damage from 4 years ago goes way past the scar that constantly itches from the surgery to save my life. It has seeped into my family, into my soul. I know that I will never be the same.
I am tired of the eternal tears….
Of being broken….
Of being shattered….