I’ve gone back and forth so many times about posting something, but the thought that kept holding me back was about the reaction I’d receive when I tell people I was diagnosed with PTSD & major depression.
I was afraid of the comments that might’ve made me feel even more powerless, embarrassed or invalidated. Or that I’d be misunderstood. While I know people would never intend to say something that I took as hurtful, it’s still a tough subject to talk about. No one ever wants to feel this way. It’s horrible.
When first introduced to the term, PTSD, I thought it was only associated with those who fought in a war. For anyone unfamiliar with PTSD, there can sometimes be a stigma attached to those four letters.
You’re right, it seems unusual. I’m in my 30’s, have a good career and am happily married, have a cute kid and just finished building a big beautiful house while living in an upscale apartment in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. In writing, it appears I have it all together. But the reality is, I’ve been suffering from PTSD for years and it finally got to the point where I was unable to function in everyday life.
No, I didn’t fight in a war, but my body went through a war five times in the last five years.
Since my last two surgeries back in June 2015, I honestly hadn’t had a good night sleep. Add to the fact that I lived downtown and there’s always noise surrounding our apartment and that I wake up around 4 AM for work — that’s what created the perfect storm.
Since Myles’ birth, February is usually a hard month for me because it’s considered a ‘trigger’. Triggers are things that remind us of the initial incident that caused the PTSD. For me, it’s been the month of February. But the PTSD stemmed from the 56 hours of labor and long hospital stay [That story here]
In some sense I relive Myles’ birth experience in my head, but have been dismissing it as being overly emotional and tried to ‘snap out of it’. But this year was exceptionally hard since I came so close to not making it out of Belize the previous year. And all the surgeries I’ve had are so similar to when Myles was born.
For five years now, I’ve suffered horrific flashbacks and nightmares. The dreams are vivid and vary between one of three instances; but they all had to do with surgeries and not making it through. The frightening thoughts would stay with me throughout the day, making it really hard to work. A lot of times, I’d sit at my desk and cry. What made it even worse was the embarrassment of it. Most understood, especially those who were closer to me and they reassured that I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t feel some sort of emotion after all that I’ve been through. But I know others probably thought I was crazy. Well, I was more or less. I just was living with undiagnosed PTSD.
In the last six months, I’d become more anxious, yet more depressed. Because I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on, I’d try and avoid social situations if I was having an exceptionally harder day.
Let me stop for a quick paragraph and back up a bit. I was diagnosed with PTSD shortly after having Myles, though assumed as the effects subsided over the years, I’d be okay. Besides, I’m busy! I didn’t have time to go see a therapist once a week, nor did I want to. I really didn’t want to take the time to bring up the things that are somehow making parts of your life pretty much unbearable — like sleeping.
But what I was doing was in fact, making everything worse. Not dealing with my emotions and ‘brushing them under the rug’ in fact, only exaggerated the affects.
Not only was I having re-expereincing symptoms, but I was starting to develop cognition and mood symptoms, along with panic attacks.
All of these symptoms were driving me crazy. Literally.
I was to the point where I was barely sleeping and when I did, I dreaded it. I was so tired and emotionally drained.
But what really got my attention was when my mental health started to affect my physical health. My blood pressure was high. I stopped working out because I was just too tired. I wasn’t eating right and felt horrible.
It was on my birthday this year that I felt so bad, I had to go to the hospital. They kept me for a few days and that’s when I was re-diagnosed with PTSD, depression and an anxiety disorder.
Finally, everything made more sense. [source]
From that point on, a little over five weeks ago, I’ve been getting the treatment I’ve needed.
I was prescribed medication to help with the horrific nightmares while undergoing therapy. I can’t describe the feeling after getting a good nights rest with no remembrance of a terrifying dream. I am starting to feel more and more refreshed. I’ve been working out on a regular basis and eating normally. My sleep has improved dramatically. While therapy isn’t something I look forward to, it’s something that was necessary and each week, I am better able to manage life, myself and the overall feelings.
It’s definitely a process and there’s no quick fix overnight, but I finally after five weeks, feel like I’m no longer at the mercy of this disorder.
Even a month ago I wouldn’t have been able to write this post without hysterically sobbing, but I wanted to let those who have been asking where I’ve been … what is really going on.
[This is a really good article that describes the feelings I’ve been experiencing]
And to also let those who are reading this know, it’s never too late to seek help. Please don’t make the same mistake I made and be ashamed of any sort of mental illness. I’m sure there are more people than you think who probably suffer from something similar whether it be depression, anxiety or both … and would gladly accept a friend to lean on or a shoulder to cry on.