I live with PTSD & Anxiety, did you know that?
I have had this mental health issue for many years. However I was able to keep it under wrap and private for most of the past 20 years. I suppose maybe certain triggers were always on the home front, but dealing with them seemed “easier” at the time. I have found when I was in my 30’s, I didn’t have a lot of time to worry about my daily quirks, my irrational thoughts or uncertain fears. I’m not sure if maybe having more confidence during the years of raising children could have been a contributing factor to my ability to push my anxiety off? Or could it have been that I just had more control over it?
Could it have been that I was just too busy to acknowledge my anxiety? Because once it did hit me, I was terriefied and wondered where did it come from.
About 3 years ago, I was having a lot of terrible thoughts. Fear of family dying, I became anxious of every day living. I didn’t want my children to leave the house, I had camera’s installed in my home so we could keep track of the “nurses” coming and going. I worried about new health care professional abusing my adult son while they cared for him. Constantly concerned for my daughters safely and well being at school. Rape, drugged and beaten during parties ran through my mind constantly. She kindly followed my neurotic rules just to give me peace of mind. “Call me when you get there, Call me when you are leaving, I bought her pepper spray (Dog Terrant) rape whistle and warned her every day about the danger of walking alone late at night.
I would leave notes on all our doors so when someone let the dogs out to pee they wouldn’t leave them unsupervised. I worried a hawk or a coyote would manage to get into our yard and take them. I wanted camera’s put outside along our back yard because I was scared neighbours would try to poison our dogs. ( I LOVE my neighbours and I know in a clear mind they would never do that). I would have panic attacks when my mom or dad would have doctor appointments. I feared constantly they would be diagnosed with cancer.
I didn’t like when friends would “call” me, because I would immediately think it was bad news. My family always knew when they would call me, the first thing they had to say was “everything is fine mom”.
When Paul would be late coming home, he would have to let me know or I would worry he got into an accident. I was paralyzed in my own life. The scary thing about it is I didn’t know were it came from.
Living with all these fears and anxieties eventually chipped away at my confindence and self worth. I was slowly crumbling like an old artifact weathering away due to natural causes and the elements of weather. Each scare, suspicion and worry slowly took my mind hostage and enveloped my ability to live. Everything I was dealing with because feared. It was exhausting, and it was sad. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me.
I have always battled bouts of depression and anxiety. But I believe thats just part of having PTSD. During my late 20’s and 30’s I did see a psychologist regularilry. Not just for my PTSD, there were times during my marriage were we both needed tending too. There is no shame in that, cause as much as we were recovering from a terrible, catastrophic event in our lives. We were still two young adults finding who we were individually as well as together. We had a shift in our faults, the earth we stood on jolted us so fiercely we didn’t even have time to react. We persevered first, then we reacted.
We both suffered traumatic events, and it effected us differently. I’m proud of how hard we worked at keeping a stable home life. We provided happy childhoods for our children even during moments of uncertainty.
Busy lives, routine, structure and control kept us moving forward each year. As a parent we “for the most part” had the upper hand on choices and decisions based around our children. You can’t be scared when you have your hands firmly wrapped around something, protecting it from the evils of the world. I suppose that’s how I coped. I always knew where my kids were, I picked them up, dropped them off, volunteered in their schools, volunteered in their sports, provided an open door for friends and tucked them safely in each night. I didn’t have the fears that creeped up on me 3 years ago.
Looking back, when I was speaking to my psychologist this time I have always had anxiety related to my children, husband and life. I just felt I had more control. I was a bit more of a “helicopter” mom then some of my friends, I liked to give my children space but I liked them at home more. I did encourage independace but I was never too far from them. I don’t think I would change a whole lot from how I parented, but i do wonder how things would have been different without parenting with PTSD and Anxiety. I was always just a bit more worried or anxious as the other mom’s, and at times I was insecure about that. I just didn’t realize at that time, that there was a reason for it.
Once my kids became adults, making decisions for themselves I had to let go and I didn’t know how too. If i let go, something bad was going to happen.
The mind is a beautiful place, but sometimes it can be a living hell. Learning to control it is a challenge somedays. I have to work on it everyday. When I felt i was loosing control over my kids simply meaning they are taking control of their own lives, my anxiety heightened, along with my PTSD. With that came flashbacks, fear, pain, dreams, exhaustion, fight or flight reaction, nervousness, succlusion, depression etc. The list could go on and on. The feeling of not having the control triggered that. Most ofou you can progress through life naturally, living through the milestones each of our children face. But when you have live with PTSD it can make those moments challenging.
I was having so many flashbacks from hospital stays, intubations, losing consciousness, CPR, 911 phone calls, being alone in a waiting room, fear of death, surgeries and car crashes. LOUD noises triggered panic, smells set me back to hospital rooms, the diapers they used in hospital, cleaning supplies. beeps and bells reminded me of the machines that kept him alive ringing off during the night while he slept. It’s not something you can control in the moment. But if you have the proper tools, then you can apply them and control all those fears and anxieties.
I did not have a lot of those triggers through the early years of raising my family. I mean there were definitely moments for both of us that triggered emotions and/or fear. I remember the microwave beeping use to send us both into flight or fight response. However, luckily we escaped much of it, so it didn’t hinder our responsibilities as parents or partners. I suppose we were living through it, so the thoughts were there just not as memories or flashbacks.
It was three years ago, my parents were here for Sunday dinner. We try to have a family dinner each Sunday. We were saying goodbye at the front door, I can’t remember the conversation we were having but I do remember telling them that I was struggling. They of course like any parent dosen’t want to really hear their child is hurting, so their response was more of a “why?” Why are you still hurting? Of course I didn’t have an answer to that. I was embarrassed and felt weak. Maybe the feeling of defeat was what instigated my meltdown, but it happened. Right there in front of them, I started to cry, and boy did I cry hard. I sat down on my stair case and sobbed. I was having a meltdown and it scared me cause I wasn’t able to contain my emotions.
They all just watched, and unfortunately for the first time ever my children witnessed it. I know it scared them. I have always been a pillar of strength very rarely showing signs of “weakness”(which is how I felt at the time). But I couldn’t control it, I yelled at them “How would you feel seeing your son come so close to death right in front of you?” “Can you imagine the guilt I have that I caused his injury, I ruined his whole life, I put him in that wheelchair”. “Every day I look at him and push away the feelings of guilt just so I don’t parent him unfairly and only through pained eyes. ‘
I’m tired of being strong. I’m tired of being sad. And. I’m tired of being scared.
The next day I got into a new psychologist. This was beginning of who I am today.
During the process of those few years, I lost myself. I no longer wanted to be with friends, i couldn’t bring myself to entertain anyone. I was terrified of inviting people over for dinner. I despised the thought of going out with people. I didn’t have the ability to connect. Everything tired me. Being in the presence of others made me nervous, anxious and disconnected.
I am still working on wanting to be in the presence of others. I am at least pushing myself to be more social. But i am also accepting the fact that I may never be that care free spirited soul that loved her house filled with friends and loved ones. I think thats the hardest part, accepting that my anxiety and PTSD has changed a piece of who I am. I am still working on my self -esteem and confidence. I still prefer to be home, there once was a time when I would make myself do things that made me uncomfortable. Today…i am learning to accept who I am and I am learning to be by myself and love me. I’m learning to forgive myself. With each moment of clarity I become stronger.
I am also realizing that I shouldn’t care what others think. I do not like to be vulnerable, mostly because I live to be strong. I suppose being vulnerable is a sign of strength, I admire those who can be open and honest with their struggles. I think that takes real character and strength. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect those who choose to keep their struggles close to themselves. As long as you are searching out the support needed, its no one else’s business.
Well my friends, that is it. My Truthful Tuesday~
if you are still here, thank you!
Until next time, god bless~xx