Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’

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.


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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!

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EMDR are four letters that, for me, never were linked in a meaningful way prior to my trauma. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is the therapy that helped me climb out my PTSD.  At the risk of botching up the “official” explanation, check it  out here:  

EMDR, to me, was a true lifesaver. It is a well suited therapy for trauma in the way that it does not employ just “talking” about the problem.  “Talking” about the problem is a trigger.  Talking along with moving my eyes in well defined, therapist directed way, allows for desentization and reprocessing of the trauma, as well as the triggers that are ever present in PTSD.

Recently, I was discharged from EMDR therapy.  I had exhausted all my triggers, and worked through the trauma.  Does this mean my memory of the trauma is gone?  Not at all.  It means my memory of the trauma no longer creates a panic type response.  Successful completion of EMDR means I can talk about the trauma without falling to pieces.  Successful completion of EMDR means I can spread the word about a therapy that works wonders for those suffering with PTSD.

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Rocks on the Tracks

Today, as I drove my daughter to preschool, I was stopped at some railroad tracks to wait for a train.  The sound of the train as it rumbled over the tracks brought me back to a statement that my husband made to me while I was fully engaged in my PTSD diagnosis.  After a particularly restless night, fraught with nightmares, flashbacks, and cold sweats, my husband stated to me that “my teeth sound like a train running over rocks on the tracks.”

One of my symptoms of PTSD was an extreme grinding of my teeth when I “slept.”  And yes, it was loud, painful, and relentless.  Sad to say, I kind of just let myself grind without intervention until my dentist pointed out that he could tell I was grinding grooves into my teeth.  Solution-A mouth guard that I could wear at night.  Problem-the “plasticy” smell triggered a panic response in my body. Through therapy I discovered that the “plasticy” smell related to the oxygen administered to me via facemask during delivery and was able to work through this trigger.

My point-nothing with PTSD is ever simple, and usually there is not a quick answer.  Therapy has eliminated totally the need for a mouth guard at this point, as my grinding as ceased.  Just know- PTSD is a long, challenging, loud train ride that requires a skillful conductor and a lot of support to smooth the bumpy tracks.

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Elective Cesarean

One of the links that I recently posted was to a website that supports and promotes elective cesarean procedures.  This website is a critical one for me to visit, since I will be engaging in an elective cesarean if and when I have another child.  Sometimes, people think that a cesarean procedure in general is one of major medical intervention and more medical risk as compared to a “natural” birth.  To those people, I say, try giving birth the way I did, and then compare the interventions and risks between the two. (For really great information on elective cesarean-visit the website!

Although I am not pregnant now, I am anticipating friends and families confusion as to why I feel a cesarean birth would be better for me, especially those who do not fully understand the trauma experience I am drawing from to make my decision. Our society works to promote the strong, natural woman-a woman who can do it all, a woman who can pop out a baby, unmedicated, and be back at work in 6 weeks.  A woman who needs to only resort to procedures such as cesarean in times of birthing emergency.

The idea of an elective cesarean brings me great joy.  To actually have the ability to plan and execute a childbirth is exactly the kind of birthing plan that appeals to me and makes having a future child possible. I have been told that I cannot give birth naturally again, because of all of the physical damage.  In addition, regardless of the physical damage, I have had enough emotional upheaval to never feel the need to push a baby out between my legs again.  Elective Cesarean is the right choice for me, and one, thankfully, my OBGYN agrees with.

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Through My Eyes

In doing the research for my book and writing about my personal experiences, I have come to many important insights.  First and foremost that one must understand is that trauma is in the eye of the one being victimizedIf you feel helpless, fearful, scared, traumatized; you are!  It does not matter what other people may feel during that experience; it does not matter how other people may recover from that specific incident, it matters through the eyes of the victim.

Recently, I found an  extremely helpful link on Babel: The Voices of a Medical Trauma, that explains trauma through the eyes of the patient, the medical notes of the chart, and the hospital’s response.  This was a critical piece for me to read and understand.  I really related to the idea that the eyes of the victim, and the experiences of the victim, were not all reflected in the medical notes and hospital response letter.  The fact that they do not match does not indicate in any way that this woman was not traumatized by her experiences. 

In looking through my own medical records, I have found significant discrepancies between what happened and how I perceived it to be.  Whether this is shoddy record keeping, or the way I viewed the trauma through my eyes does not matter.  If the patient feels traumatized, the patient needs treatment consistent with one who has been traumatized, regardless of the notes on the chart.

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You Don’t Smell as Bad…

This morning, as I hugged my husband good-bye, my husband proclaimed “You don’t smell as bad as you used to in the mornings.”  Now, to some this may seem as an major insult, but to me, this “compliment” is a source of pride.  During my extreme throws of suffering with PTSD, I would ultimately wake in the morning smelling of sweat, a foul reminder of the nightmares, insomnia, and anxious restlessness that accompanied my “sleep.”  To not “smell as bad” means that there has been a critical change in my night-time routine.  It means that the PTSD is less and less reactivated during my hours of sleep.  It means, I am getting better.

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