Tag Archives: #ptsd

Taking Action

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I have always been taught to respect the men and women who serve our country. My grandfathers served, two uncles, and a few others in the family. I wasn’t raised in a military household, but I was taught at a young age that our freedom is protected by our military.. I hadn’t thought about it a lot  until a few years ago. My husband got a job offer to travel to Iraq  to work for a year. The decision had to be made in one day. We had some very serious conversations. We both believe in serving our country, but we never would have been able to be in the military ourselves. But this was his chance to really go out there and make a difference and I was supportive 100%. When he was gone we talked a little about what he was doing and the people he was meeting and how hard the soldiers were working and wonderful it was to work with. He was making a difference when  I never had the opportunity to. The work he did out there made me proud that he cared enough about our country to go out there and help get our soldiers home. Regardless, I will never have the words to adequately express my feelings of just how much I love this country. About how much respect and pride I feel towards our soldiers who are out there every day serving our country. Keeping us safe and preserving our freedom. But they pay a huge price. They often come home physically and mentally disabled. Some can’t work. Others suffer from terrible PTSD. I have PTSD as well, but I can’t even imagine the impact is has on them. I feel like they have had it so much harder. So I’m here sitting at my desk writing about how patriotic I feel, but what I really feel is that I’m not doing anything. We can write and talk all we want, but are we really helping anyone? I believe some of us are, but is it enough? I believe I can do more. This morning I signed up to volunteer with Soldier’s Angels. A group that helps you find service men and women to write letters to. Letting them know that we at home support them and want to know we are there for them. I also contacted the local VA hospital. I want to go volunteer there as well. I have no idea what they need, but whatever it is I’ll do it. I’m not trying to make my self look good, or be prideful or whatever. I’m just saying I was feeling guilty for believing in something, wanting to fight for someone, but not actually doing anything about it. So I challenge you to try to take action. It doesn’t have to be much. It can be so simple. Take 5 minutes out of your week and send a soldier a letter. It will mean so much to them. I don’t know if I can make a difference, but I’m not going to stand back not do anything any more.

Links:

Find a clinic or hospital near you: http://1.usa.gov/1JeGPrt

VA Voluntary Service Page http://www.volunteer.va.gov

VA Crisis Line. Find a Call Line near you: http://www.volunteer.va.gov/

 

It really wasn’t a secret

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I have spent most of my life trying to connect the dots. Trying to make a timeline of when I first experienced trauma, when I had my first episode of bipolar disorder, when I first experienced PTSD, what had happened when they all come together, what the real truth is.

This morning as I was thinking about all of it. A thought that I never had before popped into my head and nearly knocked me over. I must have been manic when I started being sexually abused. I’ve never thought that before, let alone say it out loud. I felt like I now had this terrible secret inside and that I was to blame for everything that had happened. Now that I’m typing it, it seems less like a secret than I thought it should be. It’s the truth, but it wasn’t my fault. In the past I would have been beating myself up, hating myself, having suicidal thoughts, the whole gamut. Now I can say, OK I might have been manic, but I was still taken advantage of. I was a naïve young girl that had no experience with men and was preyed upon by an evil manipulative predator. So what, I was intrigued because I was manic and young. So what I might have played a long a little too far out of curiosity, but having dirty phone calls and being sexually abused are not the same thing. Period. I did not come to this conclusion immediately. I spent a few hours freaking out and panicked and a disaster, but the one thing I have learned over the years is to stay calm and be honest. I have learned not to blame myself for what I do during times when I have been manic and I have learned to forgive myself.

So there you have it, it’s now out there for the world to see. I was probably manic in the beginning of the relationship with my abuser. If I had been older and wiser and my parents would have known I was sick maybe things would have been different. But now I feel like I know what the truth is. It doesn’t matter what happened when and how it was all connected. My wonderful friend bipolar_issues has been talking to me today as I told him my terrible “secret.” and he said the most helpful thing. “Don’t worry about the dots. We know what the picture looks like.” The picture is what I am today. Maybe there are others like me trying to connect the dots of their messy past. I hope that maybe we can forget all the terrible parts, the dots, and look at who we are today and move forward from here.

Life After PTSD

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Before I say anything else, I want to say there is life after surviving PTSD. Trauma comes in all shapes in sizes, all ethnic groups, genders, economic groups, anyone any where is vulnerable to trauma. Trauma can occur in so many different ways. The most prevalent cases are our combat veterans, victims of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and other acts of violence. PTSD occurs when your brain can’t process that act or acts that were committed or viewed. It shuts you down. It makes you feel guilty. Guilt is one thing I believe all PTDS survivors have in commonl. ALL of us. We question what we should have done differently, if we could have been stronger, if we should have told someone, if we hadn’t obeyed commands. But none of it was our fault. We got into a shitty situation that we didn’t ask for. You’re not a bad person deep down, you just were so traumatized that your brain couldn’t process the information correctly. Some people go through things and end up with no after effects. People that are prone to PTSD are just wired differently. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or broken. Your brain just works differently.

With that being said, it’s all therapy talk. I know. You’ve heard it before 100 times. But it’s true. You just aren’t ready to be at that place yet. For a very long time neither was I. I was sexually abused for a year when I was 15. It was a terrible act by a terrible coward. The details aren’t important. When you tell people you have PTSD, the first question they as it, What happened? You don’t owe anyone an answer. Don’t let anyone push you to a place that will trigger you.

PTSD is a dark terrifying place. Filled with triggers, flash backs, self hatred, feeling of completely loneliness, guilt, and feelings of wanting to die.  But the thing that caused the PTSD is gone now, and if it’s not, please seek out help immediately. It can’t hurt you any more, but it’s haunting you. It haunts me still to this day, 18 years later, but thankfully not in my everyday life. For a long time, I felt like it would never get better, that I would never live a normal happy life, that I would be alone and scared and that the flashbacks would never stop. For me, it also caused me to have Dissociative Identity Disorder. So I had alters to contend with too. I went to therapist after therapist, medicine after medicine. It would get better for a little while, but would always come back. I was lucky enough to find an amazing trauma center in West Virginia where I did intensive therapy. Art therapy helped me the most. I didn’t have to use words. I used the terrible thoughts in my head and got them out of there with sculpting and drawing. It didn’t fix everything, but a lot was resolved.

I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, but I suffered for a long time. Yet, I never quit. I clung on to that tiny piece of hope and I prayed to God to keep me alive. I found people that I could open up to, that I allowed myself to trust. I laid it all out on the table. Once it was out there it didn’t just live in my head anymore. I had outted the demons. What the honest answer to living a life after a terrible trauma is time. It takes a lot of talking, writing and time. It’s a crappy answer. It doesn’t help in this moment, but the light will slowly come. Just don’t give up. Find one thing every day to hold on to. Find that one person you can call anytime you feel scared, do that one healthy thing that makes you feel better, hang on for dear life and know that you are so special and that the world needs you. It has plans for you. Amazing plans. Things you can’t imagine could ever be possible. I have an amazing 2 year old son. I never thought I could have a family, never thought I would be well enough. But I did. I worked with my therapist, overcame DID, the triggers lessened and the flash backs stopped.  But I had to work hard, so damn hard. But life is worth it. Living a new fresh life is more beautiful than you can see right now.

There’s strength in everyone. Even if you don’t feel it right now. There is always hope. I want you to see that I survived and have over come so much, and I was weak, I gave up 1000 times, I quit, I failed, I lost control, but that small amount of hope kept me going. Also find a support system. Even it’s it just one person, that’s enough sometimes, but you would be surprised that when you put yourself out there how many people care about you and would help you. Even people you meet on the internet. 🙂 I’m here for you all. I want to share my story to make what I went through mean something, to know that I can make something good out of all those hard times. Keep strong, go to your therapist, take your meds, and never give up hope. It’s a long path, but I know you will get there.