This is something that I have been wanting to write about for a long time. It is very personal and is my journey throughout PTSD. I felt it was time to share…………
It goes dark and the only feeling you know, right it that moment, is being empty. Nothing can fill that void, no one around you can help, you don’t even register your surroundings. Heat rises up from the pit of your stomach, with an anger that you know you can’t control. Feeling like you want to scream out loud, grab anything around you and throw it 100mph at the wall but you can’t.
Then the anger turns to sadness, you can’t control the tiny drops of water, rolling from your eyes. This time, it’s shame and you want to hide but where? Where do you go? No one knows what to do and to be honest, you will most likely be ignored. The tears can flow for hours, even days, if you don’t get on top of your falling emotions.
Then you take a tiny tablet, no bigger than a pin head, you swallow and hope to god, it cures the runaway train wreck, in your head. 15 minutes have passed and your hands stop shaking, your breathing returns to normal and you are left wondering “what the hell was that about?” BUT in no way is it over yet.
The above is the only way I can describe a small break down and it can take 2-3 days for my body and mind to recover from this. A slip in life, just for that 1 hour and I’m out for days.
I live with PTSD and have done since 2008, I was undiagnosed until 2011 and that’s when my life to a step towards a brighter future.
My break downs were once every 10 odd days and would last a day, I had no control and my world was falling rapidly towards a dark hole, that I couldn’t fill. Then gradually, with my weekly counseling sessions with a trauma team and a veterans service, those bad days went from days to weeks to eventually months apart. I was taught coping strategies, to help me get through a turn.
Just getting on the bus, every Friday to the hospital for my appointments, caused me major anxiety. I had to take sick bags with me but a couple of the bus drivers on that route, were veterans and understood PTSD. If they could, they would stop to allow me to get off for a few minutes for fresh air. But if a bus was packed, I couldn’t even fathom getting on it. I still get days like this but I have things figured out (what times of day are busiest to avoid etc).
Even walking from my home to the main shops in my town, was a mile walk. Not an issue, exercise wise but anxiety wise, it was a bag of nerves. The only way I could make it, is if I wore my sunglasses and plugged my head phones in and blasted whatever music I have on my mp3.
But then, I decided to get a dog, he was only 8 weeks old when I bought him home but with him, it gave me a much needed kick up the bum. As long as I have him with me, I could walk anywhere. You see, the trick is to keep your mind occupied and focused. My attention was on Benni (my pup), making getting to the shops a lot easier and when I started to have anxious days, I would grab his lead and go for extra long walks……much easier to do, when it hasn’t been pouring down with rain!
I was in treatment for my PTSD side for 2.5 years and it really did work. No more flash backs, no more intrusive memories and I can walk down a road, without having every sound, set my mind racing off. But I still have the insomnia, anxiety and depression side, which will be harder to overcome.
I under went a treatment called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). The issue I had with my PTSD was black outs of memories. Like it was a distant dream but actually happened. Most times, parts of the memory would be blacked out, other times, I couldn’t remember names or faces. I was told that this was a way of my brain protecting me but those memories had to be reopened and refiled away, so that I could move on with my life.
My PTSD comes from 4 different experiences, 2 of which I experienced whilst serving in the HM Forces and 2, after I left the Forces. My time in the Royal Navy was brilliant but 2 incidents pretty much contributed to a lot of things. One was a major car accident, the other I am not allowed to discuss. During my time, after I left, came from an abusive marriage. I won’t go into these details, as I don’t see the point in bringing up negative memories.
I put on a hard exterior, didn’t show people my weaknesses and that was me all over, still is me to be honest. But in 2008, something clicked and my life starting falling rapidly out of sync. I was misdiagnosed with Bi-polar, manic depressant, PND but they were all wrong. No one listened to me, no one really wanted to either. I was working full time, leaving the house at 7am and coming back by 7pm, it didn’t help that my manager was a class A bitch but I had to grit my teeth and move forward. I was dealing with a very heavy work load, long hours, not seeing my child and all these thoughts going through my head.
But then, during all this, my son just wasn’t like a normal baby, by the time he was a year old, you could see he differed to other babies his age. He was diagnosed with ASD by the time he was 20 months old but I got lucky with such an early diagnosis. I held my head high and battled the GP’s and hospital. I was able to get him the treatment he needed, as a single mum, juggling all of this was hard but my parents really did help. To top it off, I was going to night school twice a week, to get an A level in Psychology, it was a fast track course, so everything packed into 1 year.
Then life hit me like a lightening bolt!
It was like over night, I mentally hiccuped and that was me done. I’d gone from this head strong single mum to a pile of shit. But why? I was dating a guy, who I thought was the Bee’s knees and we accidentally fell pregnant. We’d been dating a while, so I didn’t think it was such a big problem but to him it was. The day I told him I was pregnant, was the last day I saw him, he walked out and never returned.
I was completely lost. I remember telling my mum, I was too scared to tell my dad. Both my parents cried, they knew this would be a struggle and I had to make a decision. I decided to keep my unborn child, sod the rest of it.
During my pregnancy, I recoiled from friends, from life and this is where it began. I was on numerous medications for a bad gallbladder (which was removed, after I had my baby). I never really bonded with my son, he didn’t feel like mine, so the Dr’s said I had PND, I didn’t believe them but they chucked a load of meds at me and told me to get on with it. I kept drifting from my children and I was fighting it. I
loved love them with everything I had and I hated the way I felt about everything. But it was my eldest son’s Psychiatric nurse who diagnosed me, she took me to my GP and demanded a referral. I owe her a lot, to be honest, I reckon I owe that lady my life, she saved me when no one else noticed.
This is where my blogging came into play; when I felt down, I’d write, I’d write down my feelings, I wrote stories, I wrote reviews. Why? Because it took me away from how I was feeling right at that moment and turned my moods around.
From the outside, I look like any other normal woman but I can guarantee you, I am not. I do tend to be the black sheep of social circles in life but I put that down to me being different.
I still suffer a lot, especially with day to day basics, some times I can go 7-8 days without leaving the house but I have a select few people around me who understand this and will help. Other days, I can be out and about for hours, with my dog. I still can’t go into crowded places, especially if they are loud, as it sends my anxiety sky high. But if I plan my day and stick to it, I can get on.
I know this seems like a bit of a pointless rant in places but I felt it was time to let the real me out into the open. I’m not a loon (might be a tad mad 😉 ) but I am a woman who has crawled up a mountain and wacked a flag into the tip.
Mental Health is a common thing in life, just like our bodies, our minds suffer trips and need help to recover. Stigma around Mental Health is terrible and I hope one day, people understand that it is not something to take lightly. When you break a leg, you have a cast, what I mean to say is that you can see it but with a broken mind, you don’t see it until it’s too late.
It becomes an art form, to hide how you really are.
What can you do to help? Simple show that you are there, even if it’s a text to ask how that person is. but please don’t distance yourself and make fun of that person, stop the bitching and realize that your ‘friend’ needs a big hug. You never know, one day, you might be the one who needs that hug, too…………………………