Today I am Grateful for My PTSD Diagnosis…

PTSD does not signify the end of your life, but rather a chance at a new beginning.

One might think being diagnosed with PTSD would be a terrible fate. While it certainly is not something I ever anticipated, nor does anyone else, it could be far worse in my opinion. Keeping with my law of attraction mindset, if I allow myself to dwell in pity about my diagnosis, I will forever be a sufferer of PTSD. Coping with PTSD is not easy by any means, but good things grow from the treatment process. Learning how to process traumatic events, emotions, thoughts, and regulate behaviors is never a bad thing. Without my diagnosis of PTSD I would never have delved into the world of trauma as I have the past two years, and would not have tuned into myself and what I truly needed in order to be emotionally healthy. The time and energy I have invested in myself the past two years, and healing, surpasses the total amount of time which I have made myself a priority throughout my lifetime.

In some ways I am thankful for my PTSD, as it has been the wake up call I needed in order to learn how to make myself a priority. I have spent time learning to be patient with myself, and work on changing some harmful behaviors. I have learned how to meditate, and how to healthily argue with my negative self-talk. PTSD has given me the motivation to heal myself, grow, and move forward stronger than ever. I know some people struggle for years, even a lifetime. I do not belittle their struggle, or their journey. We each have a path to forge, and our own personal trail to blaze. I have nothing but respect and empathy for those who continuously struggle throughout their lives. I offer nothing but positive, healing energy to you and a hope for a better tomorrow.

As I have shared in earlier posts, trauma changes our brains. It alters the chemistry and how our brain processes. Trauma molds the way we process and view events. Through various therapies, those of us with PTSD learn, or re-learn, how to process emotions, reactions, behaviors, and even our own thoughts. I have come to know things about myself I would have never believed otherwise, good and positive things.

As the Law of Attraction states, we should be grateful for what we have in our lives, and I can say I am truly grateful for my diagnosis simply for where my journey has taken me the last two years. My therapy process has helped me learn how to look for red flags in relationships and stop making excuses for inexcusable behavior, to set boundaries and enforce them even if it is with myself, and to avoid triggers once they have been identified whenever possible. I have worked through most of my symptoms, and no longer suffer from a great deal of what once held me a captive prisoner in my own life. I have found independence, my voice, my creative outlet, and a passion for life I never had as deeply as I do now.

I have learned how to rewire my thinking and reword my inner dialogue in order to manifest those things which are most important. No longer do I live in the world of self-loathing, blaming my existence for all that which haunts me. No longer do I feel I deserve the treatment I received at the hands of those who should have protected me most. No longer do I feel a perpetual victim to life and those who kept hurting me. What happened and who is responsible is inconsequential. The important aspect is what I walk away with from everything. The important part is what I do now, and how I allow it to impact my life. I have learned and grown so much, and that is a priceless thing I cannot imagine my life without.

Trauma Literally F*cks with Your Brain…

When I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) I was shocked, truly. I had never thought someone like me could have something like PTSD. I remember my therapist sitting there and reviewing my test, a 392 question test which had question after question which seemed like the same 50 questions reworked in different ways. He kept nodding and scoring on his computer. Finally, he looks up and tells me I have a TEXTBOOK case of PTSD. Not just yes I have it, but I have a textbook case of it. He started using words like, “classic case” and “textbook symptoms.” All the while I sat there trying to focus, but struggling because I was lost in the whirl of thoughts circling in my brain. I was experiencing nightmares, flashbacks, negative association, brain fog, inability to focus, severe anxiety, and depression. I left the office trying to digest my new diagnosis and what it meant for my life. I decided I needed to learn about PTSD and began doing some research at home, and asking questions in therapy. I was shocked at what I would come to learn about trauma, PTSD, and the way society treats people with a PTSD diagnosis which are not military.

As I started learning more about my diagnosis of PTSD I began to learn how much PTSD impacts the brain. Trauma literally changes your brain. I had no idea. I was shocked. Trauma impacts several areas of the brain, including the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the prefrontal cortex. Trauma causes an increase in cortisol production and in norepinephrin response. Essentially, trauma changes your brain. Think about that. It literally, physically, changes your brain. When we can understand this concept, we can then understand why it is so frustrating to PTSD sufferers to be told things like, “You just need to get over it,” or any variation of the same sentiment. It’s like telling someone who lost a limb, “You just need to forget you ever had that arm,” or, “You should pretend you never had two legs.” Not only would people find that to be insensitive and rude, but the person who said it would probably catch a verbal beat down for having been so callous.

Meanwhile, in the world of mental health, it is completely normal, and acceptable, to most to speak like this to people with not only PTSD, but also, depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders as well. Ignorance to mental health issues is certainly to blame, but in today’s technology day and age, it does not hold water for long. Finding information on mental health issues is relatively easy to locate online, and it takes but a simple search to find. The wealth of information available is vast, and most of it is reputable and easy to understand. Knowledge is power, and the more we know, the more we can express empathy to those dealing with mental health disorders and contribute to helping instead of increasing the burden. A small glimpse into the life of someone who’s been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, anxiety, etc., offers a wealth of answers as to why their behavior is what it is, and why. Have you ever known someone who spoke of feeling lonely all the time, despite being surrounded by people? Perhaps he is suffering from depression. If he is, the last thing that is helpful for him mentally is to be told to get over it, or to join the mass of people around him at any given time.

Trauma occurs and leaves people devastated. It is not the type of devastation you necessarily see. Whether someone loses a home, a spouse, or causes an accident. Perhaps childhood abuse, or an abusive marriage, or childhood illness is what precipitated their PTSD. The truth is you may never know or understand what CAUSED someone’s PTSD, but you do not have to understand how to show empathy and compassion for what they are going through. In addition, it is not uncommon for traumatized people to have several instances in which traumatic events happen to them, only for people to label them as “drama,” and walk, or run, away. When we understand how trauma impacts the brain, and the emotional and mental states of someone, we can see why these things happen. It is as easy as having compassion and empathy. Look at people the way you want to be looked upon. Care for a stranger in need as you wish to be cared for, and do unto others as you want done unto you.

Who’s That Girl??

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“Be the woman you needed as a girl.” So many thoughts spring to mind when I read that. I feel sorrow because I never had the woman I needed as a girl, and I feel happiness because I feel I am the woman my girls need as girls. I feel confusion because I don’t really know HOW to be the woman I needed as a girl to myself. I know, silly right, just be the same person I am for my girls, for myself, duh. Easier said than done for some reason…well, not some reason, trauma reason. Now I feel angry because I hate that I use the word trauma so often in my life. I hate that I experienced so much trauma in my life. I hate that trauma feels more comfortable, more normal, than peace and tranquility. I hate that part the most. I hate that trauma has caused me to push away people who are healthy for me, while allowing toxic people to reign supreme in my life.

In order to be the woman, I needed as a girl, I need to look at the girl as I do my girls, not as I look at myself. If I stop and think of my daughters when I utter that statement, and not myself, my perspective softens. I have a great deal of anger towards myself, obviously. But over what? Logically, I know the things that happened to me were not my fault, not my doing. But since when does logic rule over emotion when dealing with traumatic disorders?!?! Yeah, never. Perhaps I don’t need to think of myself when I picture that girls. What happens if I picture my own girls, or some stranger. A child is a child, every single one precious, innocent, and fragile. I know, I know….what makes me different?!?! It almost sounds narcissistic, or at a minimum martyr-ish. Every child is innocent, precious, and fragile, except me, I was worthless, unlovable, and easily abandoned. Seems rather silly; actually, it seems cruel.

So what the hell, why do I keep punishing myself for something that I KNOW was not my fault?!?! Why do I keep up this self-loathing, self-hatred, everyone is better than me, and everyone deserves happiness but me….blah blah blah. I sound like a frigging broken record at best. Whining about why God gave me this life, why me? What the fawk did I do to piss him off to the point of dealing with trauma since birth?!?! Some people say, “He knew you would be strong enough to handle it.” *Insert blank stare* I really have no rebuttal for this one, other than, “Gee, thanks?” I mean I can think of a multitude of ways in which I could handle a great deal and not have to bring trauma after trauma into my life. Are you as sick of that word as I am by now?? TRAAAUUMMMAAA….I am almost to the point where it makes my skin crawl to say it or hear it.

How do I let go of this toxic bullshit way of thinking, and embrace the fact that I KNOW I am worthy, I know I AM lovable, and I know I AM amazing? Do not pull a Nike on me and say, “Just Do It,” because let me tell you, my friend, that does not work. I often feel like I need to take myself hostage, and instead of torturing myself with negative things, I have to force myself to do only positive, self-growth, empowering things. Things that I consider spoiling myself, and would never normally do, because…ya know, self-loathing. I feel like the only cure is to kidnap myself, proverbially speaking, and torture my negative-thinking brain with positive, affirming actions. Just bathe in it until I damn near drown in self-love. Only stopping when I reach such a kumbaya-like state with my self that I am borderline obnoxious.

The only thing standing in my way, me. I don’t know that I could actually force myself to do that for a day, let alone a week, or more. I would feel guilt over being selfish, and I would feel so far out of my comfort zone. Yes, I know, that is the point. Maybe I should….just give it a try. Make a list of things I would NEVER normally do for myself, and force myself to do all of them, and even more so, make sure I actually enjoy them. Maybe then I could be the woman I needed as a girl.

 

Confessions of a Martyr…

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I am a martyr, there I said it. And what?!?! I have spent my entire life putting everyone else’s happiness and well-being above my own. I spent all my energy trying to please my parents as a child, to no avail. I give myself completely in relationships to the detriment of my own wants and needs. I have all but completely enmeshed myself with my kids, trying to make them happy and garner my own happiness from their happiness. I am a martyr. I will do for anyone before I do for myself. I will drop everything to please another person before I will take care of myself, and then I become irate or wounded when it is not returned to me. I am a hurt little bird abandoned and unloved because I gave and gave and gave, and they took, and took, and took.

So now what you ask, we get it, you’re a martyr. Whatcha gonna do about it? I do not have that answer yet. For starters, I am acknowledging it, publicly. So I am hoping this is a step in the right direction. I guess now I work on setting boundaries, for myself and others. I learn to say no, without feeling like I have completely let the entire world population down in some way. I learn to make myself my own top priority. I learn to give to myself first, before giving to everyone else.

I grew up feeling responsible for my parents’ happiness, or lack thereof. My father left my mother the day after I was born. I was born with complications, more needs than he knew how to meet. So he checked out, emotionally and mentally, and to a degree, physically. While my mother always took excellent care of me when I needed surgery, emotionally, I was neglected and abused. I was made responsible for her happiness. I was not allowed to express my emotions, because hers took center stage.

Growing up this way has created a huge martyr complex in me. It has taken me years to see this, and honestly, I truly just viewed myself as the most nurturing person on planet Earth. I have always found my self-esteem through helping others and caring for others. I have said during many a job interview that I love assisting because it involves helping others live their vision. Sitting here now, I read that statement, and cannot help but feel sad. While it is great to help people and give to others, I have given whatever dreams and goals I may have for myself a back seat to helping others meet their goals. I have relegated myself to side-kick status for life, instead of being the superhero I really want to be in my own life.

I do love helping people, that part will always be true. Perhaps, instead of casting myself in the supportive role for life, it is time I find the spotlight in my own life. Perhaps I create the life I want, and realize my own dreams and goals. Now I just have to figure those out. I need to find my voice, my backbone, my strength. It is so difficult to change a pattern of behavior that started in infancy, and has been carried throughout an entire lifetime, but the alternative means remaining in a place of hurt, of weakness, of fear. I am more afraid to stay in this pattern than to move beyond this pattern.

So how do I stop being a martyr? I Google it, of course. From what I have been reading, the healing process starts with setting boundaries, taking time for myself, and allowing myself to be open to receiving from those who love me. The last one is probably my biggest struggle. I never really realized the true reason I struggle with that so much. I also have to stop acting like a victim…that, may be the hardest to do. I have this subconscious way of attracting and inviting trauma. I am working with my therapist to stop this, and it is probably a good thing I have an appointment with him today. I have to stop behaving like a victim in order to stop inviting trauma into my life.

I was almost happy when I was diagnosed with PTSD. It validated all my crazy feelings and emotions. It validated my insecure behavior and gave me the message that I am a victim, and now I have a disorder to prove it. Hmm, this is not how I want to live my life. I do not want to have a freaking psychological disorder to validate my victim complex. I want to live a happy, fun-loving life, successful in every way, and peaceful. I want people to love me because I deserve it, not because I have been through a lot and ultimately they feel sorry for me. I do not want pity. I do not want sorrow. I do not want trauma.

In order to move forward to where I want to be, I need to leave the place I have been stuck. I need to be ready to put down the baggage, and walk forward without it. I need to be able to look in the mirror and not allow what has happened to me, define me as a person. Yes, I have had traumas happen to me, but I am not a trauma. I do have the desire to heal, and thankfully, I am in therapy and working on it already. I will say though, this is freaking scary.

Hey Baby, What’s Your Archetype?

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I took a quiz this morning to determine my archetype. An archetype is defined as a pattern of power. It describes your personality, and how you interact with others. It tells what you gain power from, and how you value yourself. My archetype is lover, and it could not BE more spot on if I had written a dissertation about my personality. I am creative, emotional, a caregiver. I put others’ feelings before my own. I am deeply loyal, value honesty, and can spot a lie a mile away. I love hard, deep, and easily. I am full of more passion than 10 Valentine’s Days. I am vulnerable to narcissists and psychotics, enter my 2 ex-husbands. Everything it said about me was spot on. Now, I know what you are thinking, so? What do I do with this information? What does anyone do with this information?

Understanding that I am not just some over-emotional mess of a woman, helps me feel a bit better about myself. Seeing these things written out, helps me recognize that what I have is a personality type, not necessarily a disorder….although I do have several of those, but that is another post. What I do is utilize this information to help guide me down the path I belong. I embrace it, long story short. I learn to take my personality and make it work for me, instead of raging against who I am as a person. I learn to love me right where I am. I accept behavior from other people that I would never tolerate from myself. I hold myself to a standard I would never impose on others. I punish myself for feeling too much, and for not being able to control my feelings.

Honestly, it is no wonder I do not sleep, and no wonder I am exhausted all the time. It is not easy being so self-loathing. It is like a full time job, with no pay, because that would be a positive. So I will spend some time today, probably too much time today, researching this archetype thing and determining what I can do to make it work for me. I was listening to a webinar yesterday on abundance, and she kept stressing that we need to determine how we can get paid to be ourselves.

I am engaging, social, and people love sharing their problems with me. I am charming and charismatic, and love to speak in public and have all eyes on me while truly feeling as though I am making a difference. I have been through so much trauma, I could speak on almost any topic at expert level. How do I turn that into getting paid to be me, to rid myself of my abundance blocks, and let the lover archetype I am flourish? How do I do that, and not sabotage my entire way of being out of self-loathing? Well, clearly I need to stop the self-loathing part. LOL. I am working on it….every moment of every day.

I need to love myself as much as I love others, or heck, even more.

Help Me Mom…

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I cannot fathom losing one of my children. I cannot even consider what parents who lose a child go through during the grieving process, and for the rest of their lives. Yet, I feel as though I was close to losing one of my own children. Two weeks ago, my oldest daughter had homecoming. She went to the football game Friday, slept over at a friend’s house, and attended the dance the next evening. I picked her up from the dance, she looked so gorgeous. The next two days she spent in bed. I thought she had overdone it over the weekend when she spent Sunday in bed. When she stayed home from school on Monday, I knew something was wrong. She stayed in bed, complaining of exhaustion and joint pain. The pain is something chronic, we have spent years dealing with the issue. The exhaustion, I attributed to her hectic schedule. I did not give her a problem about staying home, but I did let her know Tuesday she would need to get back to school. She never made it there, because by Monday evening we were in the emergency room.

Late Monday afternoon my daughter came to me, crying, saying she needed help. I sent the other girls in the other room, and tried calming her down. She was inconsolable, but I could not understand why. I know we have been through a complete upheaval and trauma for the last 8 years, but I honestly thought we were all on the path to repair. She was crying, and hiding under her hair. She was rocking back and forth telling me the bad thoughts would not stop. I kept asking questions, calmly, trying to understand what was going on in that moment. Then she uttered the words, “I do not want to hurt myself, but I cannot control all the thoughts anymore.” At this moment I realized, my daughter literally was struggling for her life. She was battling thoughts in her mind that were telling her to kill herself. My child was battling suicidal thoughts. I struggled not to break down.

I sat there, shocked, scared, and struggling to keep talking to her without having a nervous breakdown. What do I do? I have to help her, I have to protect her, even if it is from herself. I tried to calm her down, and assess the situation. Could she be calmed enough to wait until the morning for help? She said no. Should we go to the emergency room? Is there somewhere else I should take her? Do I call 911, or take her myself? What do I tell the other two kids? My mind was swimming. She was alternating between complete silence, and borderline nervous breakdown. I told her I would take her to the emergency room if she felt she needed help right now, and it could not wait. She said yes. I made sure a friend could keep the other two kids, and we left for the emergency room.

I sat there filling out the papers, looking at my beautiful, tortured soul of a child. Her hair was greasy, but still borderline perfect. Her eyes were red from crying, but still captivating and deep. Her body was twitching and anxious, but still in peak, athletic condition. My daughter looked so together, and yet so broken. I wanted to trade places with her, I wanted to take away all her pain, and make sure she never hurts again. They took us back, and I watched as the nurse systematically removed all the long cords and sharp objects from the room. I watched my daughter as she began to realize why the nurse was removing items. I watched a bit of the reality set in, and I watched her face fall a little bit.

Blood work, urinalysis, and mental health interview done, and here we sit. The mental health professional sits us down to review our options. Inpatient treatment at the local mental health facility. Three-five days of treatment, possible medication, and therapy set up after discharge. Option two, partial inpatient, ten days of 8-3 in the mental health facility, but she would come home at the end of the day. Long duration, and more school missed, but she would come home every day. I looked at my daughter, and I let her know I would support whichever decision she wanted to try. She asked me what I thought she should do, so I told her, let’s talk through it together and decide. Ultimately, she decided to go with inpatient. It turned out to be 7 days, not 3-5.

The first two days I was a disaster. I cried, uncontrollably. Guilt, sadness, and fear took over my soul. I visited her as often as I could, almost every single day with little exception. She is home now, and seems much better. She is on antidepressants and antianxiety medication. She is also starting therapy, and back at school. I have dealt with depression throughout my life, as well as anxiety. I have never felt suicidal, but I see how it impacts a person. I see the struggle in her eyes. I will always be her biggest cheerleader, her greatest supporter. I will always be her champion.

Mental health issues are still taboo to a point in this society. My daughter was scared for her life, scared about losing control and hurting (or killing) herself. She came to me for help, she came to her mom to fix it. Watch for signs in your children, and other loved ones. Let them know it is okay to struggle and need help emotionally. Support your loved ones in their emotions. Give them the support they need, and do not be afraid to seek emergency help. Suicide is irreversible. Do not wait until it is too late.

When I Grow Up….

When I grow up, I want to be a famous author. When I grow up, I want to be a social worker. When I grow up, I want to be a teacher. When I grow up, I want to be a super-star athlete. When I grow up, I want to be a famous artist. When I grow up….wait, when is that again?? How can I be 40 years old and have such little idea about what I want to do with my life?!? How is this possible? I think about the possibilities, and then the idea of making a choice scares the shit out of me. The idea of making the WRONG choice scares the shit out of me. So then, I choose nothing, and stay where I am, and that aggravates me, and round and round I go.

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I love writing, I have always had a passion for sharing my thoughts, ideas, my soul. When I start to put it down, with intent for greatness, I freak out, get writer’s block, and cannot seem to convey any of my thoughts well. I have started my book, which will be a best-seller, approximately 25 times in the last 10 years. I have finished about 10 pages maximum at any given attempt. They all reside on my Google drive, sitting there taunting me, like the several hundred craft projects I have started in my lifetime that never got done either.

I worked in childcare for quite a while. I do love children, but the rest of the job, well, I got burned out dealing with people and situations that I loathed. I hated having to keep my mouth shut and smiling when I wanted to scream about how wrong some situation was, or how much a particular person had no business in the business. Plus, the pay is crap, benefits suck (if you get any), and I go home completely and totally exhausted every single day….can you tell I had the toddler room???

I have sought help with this situation, from friends, family, my therapist. I cannot think of any one thing I want to do forever. I think of lots of things I would like to do for a while. I can think of things I would never want to do in a million years. So I guess progress can be made through elimination, to a degree. My support network tell me to just keep trying to find something that I love, whatever that may be. My therapist tells me to focus on fixing the issues from my PTSD and the rest will come in time. Time…do I have much time?? I mean, I am 40, not 22. *Sigh* I get confused, and then frustrated, because I do not see other people having the same issues I do, with attention, with focus.

My attention span is that of a 2 year old on a sugar high. My therapist assures me this is normal considering I have PTSD. I have always been like this though, and he retorts that I have been dealing with trauma my whole life. Ok, touche Mr. Therapist, touche. The fact remains, I have a history of starting and not finishing, unless it is a cup of coffee….that gets finished in 30 seconds flat. Oooh, I could have my own line of coffee, and products, and become the most famous Coffee Mama in all the land…coffee world domination, here I come.

But seriously, it is so frustrating to deal with this every day. I love my job, virtual assistant, because I am constantly doing different things, and dealing with new people. Plus, I love helping people, and my clients are all really great and compliment my work a lot. BUT….you knew there was a but coming, I do not necessarily feel completely fulfilled. I feel as though there is something more, something greater out there for me. I just don’t know quite what that is….yet. Hopefully I will figure it out before I am 50.