This is a hard post to write. There is still so much stigma around mental illness. But I no longer want to feel ashamed of it which is one of the reasons I’m writing this post. I have Complex PTSD. There. I said it. It’s out there in the world. In case you don’t know what PTSD is, it stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association PTSD is defined as. . .
If you’re interested, you can find out more about PTSD by following this link.
I’m not going to give the details of what caused my PTSD, it’s too hard to write about. I also don’t think you need the details to understand that I have a mental illness. I was diagnosed in 2013, and it has been a rocky road working with my psychiatrist to find the right combinations of medications and therapy. We struggled so much with finding that balance that I’m currently in a in-patient treatment program specialized in treating PTSD. Some of you may be shocked by this. I’ve kept my illness hidden well from most of you. I don’t talk about it openly for fear of ridicule and judgement but the thing is I don’t want to stay quiet about it anymore. In my silence I feel like shame wins. I also want those who are suffering with the same illness to know that they are not alone.
Like chronic pain, I’ve been battling PTSD for many years. It affects my sleep, how I interact with people, it causes me to isolate and to hide. I startle easily and am always at the ready for the next tragedy to befall me. I don’t trust easily, and I feel scared all of the time. I’ll say that again…I feel scared all of the time. I dissociate, and numb and at times I don’t feel present in my own body. I feel like I’m not living at all. That’s what PTSD does, it cradles you in fear and stops you from living.
However, since arriving in this program I feel like I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m actually daring to feel hopeful. I’m learning skills and tools to help me deal with the symptoms of PTSD. And while there is no cure and it will be something I have to manage the rest of my life, my hope is that this program will give me the foundation I need to be able to do so. I hope it might be a new beginning.
I know for my readers and some of my friends & loved ones this is new information. I’m happy to answer any questions or concerns you have, and I’m thanking you in advance for your support.
I feel like I’ve not been coping. Pain has been really high for the last while, nothing seems to relieve it. Not my meds, not hot baths, or walks, or massage therapy, or my beloved heating pad. But through all this, and despite the pain somehow I’ve coped. I’m still here.
My best friend and I were taking about this very thing the other night, here’s a couple of screen shots:
We came up with chapter headings for an imaginary book called Coping: A How to Guide.
Chapter One : Wifi
What would I do without wifi? It connects me with my friends and family as well as my online pain community. All of the above are like a lifeline for me. Especially since I can’t get out as much as I would like to.
Chapter Two: BFF
We text everyday. She reminds me of how well I’m doing given my circumstances and will never let me give up or stay in a pity party too long. She makes me lol, and also understands my tears.
Chapter Three: Good Drugs
This, in reality is hit or miss. Sometimes the “good drugs” help, sometimes they do nothing at all.
Chapter Four: Understanding family ( and friends)
I’d be lost without my family. My husband is a supportive caregiver and has taken over most if not all the house responsibilities. He loves me unconditionally and that makes me a very lucky woman. My son, is so understanding and helpful. Parenting while in pain is not easy, but I’m so blessed that we seem to have kept the bond we had before I got sick. My mom who is always there for me. Friends who reach out to me even though there lives are busy.
Chapter Five: Junk Food
My favourites- Dill pickle chips, chocolate covered almonds and white cheddar popcorn with the odd A&W teenburger thrown in.
Chapter Six: Courage
I need courage for so many things. Medical appointments, speaking up and voicing my concerns, medical procedures. Courage that I can make it through hours of pain, and still wake up the next day. Courage to live a life with a major component I hadn’t planned on.
Chapter Seven: Silent Inside Voice Cursing
I think this is self explanatory- I won’t share my favourite swear words.
Chapter Eight: H.O.P.E.
Hold on pain ends. Hope that something will help, pain will ease, something might cure my illnesses and pain. I hang on to that hope everyday. It keeps me going.
What are some ways you cope? What chapters would you add to my book?
For the past few months I’ve been uninspired. Dealing with my illnesses has taken over my life and it has felt like I’m merely existing day to day instead of really living. You know that feeling of facing the same, day in and day out. For some people it’s the job they face daily only to be too exhausted to doing anything productive at night. For me it’s pain and appointments, pain and appointments.
A month or so ago, I decided that things just had to change. I wanted to learn something new. I needed a distraction, something to keep my mind busy. My aunt had taught herself to crochet just before Christmas so I enlisted her help to learn how. And I haven’t stopped since. It has become my new distraction, but not only that, it’s a true exercise in mindfulness. I get lost in the stitches, the repetition, and definitely the concentration that’s needed. I can’t think of anything else while stitching, as any project I’m working on takes my full attention, and there has been such freedom in that. For a little while I’m not thinking about how much pain I’m in, or how much more might be on the way. I feel like I have some control over my own life experience even if it’s short lived. (my new change purse is below)
Have you learned anything new lately? What have you always wanted to try?
Here’s the pattern for the change purse: http://www.oneartsymama.com/2014/12/simple-crochet-pouch.html
My life is currently spent in a waiting room, wondering when my name will be called.
At least that’s what it feels like. I’m open to suggestions for ways to pass the time. Leave an idea below and I’ll compile a list and post it.