Archive for The PTSD

Spring Cleaning

I’d like to point out-I like to keep sentimental items.  Just so we all know.  I keep things that are nostalgic to me, and believe me, I can find nostalgia in a used napkin if the story behind it is good enough.  Luckily, I have a husband that helps me to clean out, tidy up, and keep the important things so our house does not become one that is profiled on the television show “Hoarders.”

My point-keeping nostalgic items is all well and good unless you have PTSD.  Then, these items often become painful triggers and reminders of trauma.  Until now, items from my daughter’s early years have been piled and shut away without regard to organization in various bins and dressers in our basement storage.  Until now, those items were triggering, awful, reminders of all the stuff I couldn’t do, didn’t do, because of the PTSD.  Until now, the outfit that I took her home from the hospital in was a direct adrenaline rush and full-out panic attack.

Until now.  Today-I organized bins with toys and clothes that have been haphazardly piled willy nilly in our basement.  And guess what-no triggers, no tears, no anxiety.  Only nostalgia.  Nostalgia about the good times, the precious times.  I found the outfit we brought my daughter home in.  Instead of remembering the pain, fear, panic-I recalled the joy of a true miracle.

It is amazing to me that I could do this today.  Ask me about doing this 2 years ago, I would have claimed it to be an impossible task.  Just goes to show what therapy can do for you.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Relax

The ability to relax is one that is not easy when you have PTSD.  You never truly RELAX, you’re always waiting for the next trigger.  When I was in full swing of PTSD, I did go on vacation, I did take personal days, I did have days where I would do nothing-but I never really relaxed.

It’s different this year.  I’m on vacation-I’m relaxing-and I am, truly relaxed.

I also have a spotty internet connection, so stay tuned for the next update 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Automatic

When my PTSD was in full swing, I felt as if my life was on automatic.  Stumbling through the days in a zombie like fashion, I can recall the times between panic attacks as dull, scheduled, the same.  Keeping my routine while suffering with PTSD was very important to me.  Deviations from said routine were anxiety provoking, heart palpitating, sweat inducing experiences that I tried my best to avoid.

PTSD cannot turn on and off.  It’s always there, ready to pop out at any triggering moment.  I found it difficult to acquire new skills, capitalize on my old skills, and create new relationships.  I found it difficult to remember to fill my car with gas, drive new places, create a new recipe for dinner, make new friends, keep up with old friends, do housework, and many more.  In fact, I found it difficult to do anything but sit.  And even that was hard.  Sitting requires relaxing, and relaxing was something my mind could not do unless heavily medicated.

PTSD tears you apart, it tears your relationships apart, it knocks your skill level down, and it devastates your life.  It is not something you can have respite from.  It is something that is locked in your mind, waiting to pounce out when triggered.

Lots of family and friend support, and a competent EMDR therapist will help you emerge from the darkness of PTSD.  Time without therapy does nothing to cure  PTSD, in fact, it only makes it stronger.  Unless you want to be on automatic, with bouts of panic, I encourage you to seek the help you need.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Sometimes, it’s scary

Sometimes, having a mental illness is scary.  For me, mental illness was scary.  Having a mental illness was frightening.  Navigating the path to getting better was downright terrifying.

Having a mental illness often alienates you from the supports you need the most.  Having a mental illness often cripples your ability to seek effective help without support.  A mental illness skews your mindset as to what is “normal,” healthy, and life affirming.

A mental illness makes life difficult.  Having a mental illness in our society is often seen as shameful, thus those suffering with mental illness are often stigmatized.

Having a mental illness is confusing and devastating.  People with mental illness are often alienated and unsupported.

Having a mental illness causes one to be misunderstood.  “She looks OK?” is a common refrain from those who do not truly understand the depth and pain one with a mental illness can experience.

Connecting mental illness as an outcome of childbirth is not easy.  Childbirth is often celebrated in American society as “the happiest day of your life.”  Because of this belief, it is difficult to connect the creation of postpartum mental illness with this time period in a parent’s life.

It is wonderful to begin to see the collective acceptance of society to some postpartum mental illness’.   It is important to keep the flow of information coming about postpartum mental illness in an effort to make all postpartum mental illness’ part of society’s collective knowledge.  Only then will resources, effective therapies, and society support be commonplace.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Are you a soldier?

When I mention my diagnosis of PTSD to those who don’t really know anything about my back story, I inevitability get the question, “are you a soldier?”  While it is true the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is most affiliated in the public realm with war and soldier responsibilities, it is NOT true that a diagnosis of PTSD can only stem from war.

Because PTSD is a complicated diagnosis, I would encourage you to read more about by clicking the following link:  http://www.mental-health-today.com/ptsd/dsm.htm  As always, remember that the trauma is in the eye of the beholder, thus creating situations for PTSD in virtually all aspects of life, not just war.

Unfortunately, even where PTSD is most affiliated in society’s collective mindset, questions about diagnosis, effective therapy, and successful outcomes still remain.  Because of the stigma attached to PTSD, and the politics surrounding “too many” diagnosed soldiers, often many of our brave men and women are undiagnosed and untreated.

My point is, society has a long way to go in understanding PTSD.  Even in the most connected realm of war and soldier’s PTSD, there still remains many gaps in both diagnosis and treatment.  There are incredibly enormous gaps of understanding PTSD in other areas of society, besides war.  I hope that PTSD, no matter where it stems from, can move into the collective forefront of society’s mindset in the near future.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

My Spidey Senses

Remember the character Spiderman? He started off as a normal, average, guy.  But when Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider and achieves “spidey senses”- he transforms into something much more. 

In a way, I feel that a my trauma has given me a “spidey sense.”  That ability, that sense, to see that my birth situation was not entirely right, was not entirely safe, was suspicious.

Had the trauma not occurred, my research, and feelings of advocacy on the topic of birth trauma would probably have been non-existent.  Not because I would have felt that birth trauma is not important.  But because, I would not have had the “spidey sense” to be in tune to the situation.

Often, we become passionate about something personal to us.  It may be something that happened to us, or someone in our family.  It may be something happening in our city, country, or world, that personally affects us.  But until we are “bitten” we are unable to fully engage in the advocacy of change.  The changing of things that are not quite right, not quite safe, things that are ‘suspicious.”

Peter Parker used his “spidey sense” to help others.  That is the way I intend to use mine. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Is she OK?

Yesterday, my daughter ran away from me.

We were in the locker room bathroom at a local gym.  She flipped the lock (as I was using the bathroom), ran out, and hid herself. (in a locker)

As what seemed like the longest three minutes ever passed by, where I frantically searched, cried, yelled her name, I heard a scuffling in the locker next to me.

It was her.

It seems fitting that the panic of losing her, the stress of not knowing if she was OK, the fear of never holding her again, all fell on her day of birth, the day of my trauma, and the day where I experienced similar, if not identical feelings, 4 years ago.

I guess we never lose that feeling when we feel our children are in danger. 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Some people just don’t get it…

I have found there will always be some people who just don’t get it. They don’t get the birth trauma, they don’t get my mental illness (PTSD, anxiety), and they don’t get the severity of the physical symptoms I have (had).  They just don’t get it.  I have come to the conclusion that these people fall into one of two categories.

1.  They don’t get it because they don’t want or care to.

2.  They don’t get it because even though they want to, and try to, they just cannot understand it.

It is extremely difficult when people you love don’t get it. I would like to think that the people I love, and that love me, but “don’t get it” fall into the second category.  Even though it is often heartbreaking, I truly can understand why people “don’t get it.”  It is hard to understand something that you haven’t gone through yourself.  It is hard to understand something that is not constantly scrutinized by the media.  It is hard to understand something that is not a part of common conversation.

 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Anticipation

A huge part of PTSD is anticipatory anxiety.  This is a diagnosis that entails the anticipation of a trigger being so bothersome that one avoids and panics over situations that may or may not happen in the future (but to the person seem imminent).

I am finally able to say that I am rid of my anticipatory anxiety. How do I know this? Because this is what used to happen…

Prior to this year, each time the calendar would flip to February, I would begin to obsessively fret over the upcoming anniversary of the birth trauma.  March 12, my daughter’s birthday AND my worst nightmare.  March 12…the build up was agonizingly terrifying.  Extreme nightmares, numerous panic attacks, involuntary facial tics, uncontrollable emotions, just to name a few of the PTSD symptoms exacerbated with anticipatory anxiety.

Prior to this year, my daughter’s birthday was a time for me to be internally fighting for control of my triggers (and losing) while trying to put on a happy face for my family.

Prior to this year, my daughter’s birthday was a time for me to cry all morning, grieving my loss, wallowing in my situation, and then trying to act functional when she blew out her candles later in the day.

Prior to this year, my daughter’s birthday was a time for me to remember how far I had to go to get back to “normal” and reflect on the fact that I was not where I want to be.

This year-it’s time to celebrate.  My daughter will be 4.  I am well.  Let’s blow out those candles and make a wish!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Merely Surviving

Often, I look back at the time when I was truly engaged fully with PTSD.  This time was not a happy time for me.  This time was not a productive time for me.  This time was not a time to thrive.  I was merely surviving.

Today, I picked up my daughter’s preschool pictures.  This caused me to reflect upon the amount of professional pictures I have had done of her since her birth.  hmmmmm, three times, maybe?  Let me just say, had I not been traumatized, had I not been merely “surviving” I would have had the birth, 3 month, 6 month, 1 year, 2 year, 3 year pictures.  I would have had the Christmas shots, the birthday shots, the family shots. I would have picked out the outfits, set up the appointments, agonized over which delightful picture to choose, etc.

I missed out.  To tell you the truth, I don’t know how I pulled together 3 times at a professional studio.  There are so many things that I missed the boat on during my time with PTSD, because I was merely surviving.  Does this make me sad? Absolutely!  Does this make me mad? You bet!  Do I feel guilty? NO. (This answer is achieved through hours and hours of therapy)

As the 4 year anniversary of my trauma approaches, I know that I am now in a place where I can thrive, not merely survive.  Hey, maybe I will even get in a picture with her?  We need a good family photo 🙂

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

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