PTSD

Heavy heart

Oh heavy heart

Why do you grieve so? 

You are loved by 

More people than you know. 

You are never as alone

As you may feel.

In fact, this empty loneliness 

Isn’t real. 

Your mind is playing tricks

It’s the devil’s game. 

He gets in the head 

To make the heart feel the same. 

So lift yourself up, 

Oh heavy heart of mine. 

This won’t last forever,

And one day,

You will be fine. 

PTSD

I had the best mother in law.

For a while you were the mother I didn’t have. You introduced me to Christ, and taught me new recipes. You supported and prayed for me, and we shared tears and laughter. You understood how I felt when your son would upset me. You would apologetically tell me he’s “just like his daddy”.

In fact, the first piece of advice you gave me was to train him to not be like his father. I didn’t even know you for a week then, so I didn’t know what you meant, but now I do.

You’re still my mother in law because I’m still married to your son, but you aren’t the woman I remember…or maybe you are. 

I remember you standing up to your husband when he was being his narcissistic and abusive self. Maybe that was because you found strength to do so with me being there. I’ve seen firsthand how he plays the victim when people call him out on his shit. 

I thought you would believe and support me, now that I’ve come out about him assaulting me in my sleep. You came in the room when you heard me yell out “what the fuck?!”, when I woke up. Perhaps you are too afraid to speak out against him because you know how he tries to turn people against all who do. 

Whether you’re in denial or just afraid because you have to live with him, you aren’t the mother in law I remember. When you were, you were the best one anyone could ask for. 

PTSD

Morning flashback

I was blessed and cursed with the long term memory of an elephant and the short term of a goldfish. At times, I’ll find myself so frustrated because I misplace my phone and I’ll be on the damned thing. I may get appointments mixed up and forget names, but by golly I can tell you what my cake looked like on my third birthday. It had Big Bird on it with a yellow border and a white background, in case you were wondering.

This morning I find myself running on maybe three solid hours of sleep. My mind went back to when I found out who took the picture of me. The piece of shit standing at attention in my chief’s office, and all I could say was, “It was you?!”

I try to take control of the flashbacks by changing my reactions. This morning I envisioned myself smashing the son of a bitch in the back of the head with a paper weight and giving him a solid knee to the groin. Instead, I remembered how he casually said he was drunk, but was able to recall everything that had happened. I can’t remember anything after leaving the table to use the restroom that day. 

The rage took over me as I began to try to look him up. 

I’m going to make him pay. I’ll go fuck up his car, or…wait. 

I couldn’t remember his name! This was a victory for several reasons. Next thing I know, the birds start singing and the sun comes up. By the time his name popped into my mind, I’d realized I had wasted entirely too much time and energy trying to remember it in the first place. 

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How do we know when we’re enough?

We know when we’ve eaten enough because our bodies have a way of letting us know. What about the immeasurable aspects of life? How do we know when we’re loving enough, kind enough, or strong enough? What is the determining factor? Who gets the ultimate say-so in letting us know that we’re measuring up to immeasurable qualities and assets? 

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m not enough. I’m swamped with big projects and homework, the housework never ends, the kids constantly need something, and then there’s my marriage. I’m overwhelmed with hurt and memories, and it feels like somewhere in that whirlwind of life, there’s just me.

I’ve always been set on being a strong role model for my children. I grew up watching my mom struggle with an eating disorder, and recall looking at myself when she’d say how many pounds she thought she needed to lose. 

If she’s fat, I must be too.

As my feelings and thoughts try to process after finding out about my husband stepping out of the boundaries of our marriage, I find myself feeling increasingly weak, stupid, and insecure. The irrationality of my mindset is growing with all of that. 

If I was this, he wouldn’t want to do that.  

 I broke down in tears to him when I was talking about going to a NASCAR race-something we used to enjoy together. Now they are sponsored by Monster Energy, and the Monster Energy girls are showing off their perfect bodies. I started crying when I told him I’m all fucked up and insecure now. 

He tried rationalizing my thinking by reassuring me that there was nothing I could have done or changed. It had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with him being stupid. 

I know this. Strangely, knowing doesn’t help my feelings. I find myself questioning everything, and at the root of it all is fear. I don’t want to get hurt again, and being the proactive and hypervigilant person I am, I guess I’m trying to find ways within my control to prevent myself from getting hurt. 

That in itself is irrational, because I can’t control what other people do. If I get a Kylie Jenner surgical overhaul and still get cheated on, then what? When will I be enough? 

It pains me even more to feel this way, because I don’t want my daughters to ever question their worth, much less at the expense of the stupidity of their significant other. I feel like such a hypocrite. 

I feel like I’ll never be enough.

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“I’m ready to die.” “No, I’m not. “

I don’t think any amount of medication can stop these intrusive thoughts entirely. I can be in a great mood, and have a great day, and still, I can’t count the number of times a quiet voice in my mind says “I’m ready to die.”

What the medication does do is help keep my mood elevated enough so that I don’t allow the intrusive thoughts to manifest into emotions or actions. 

It adds to the feelings of hopelessness to know that I will likely deal with this for the rest of my life. For PTSD, it seems there is no cure, only treatment and management of symptoms. 

I find that both frustrating and interesting because PTSD is a symptom itself. It’s a symptom of traumatic experience(s). I may not be able to beat it, but I won’t let it beat me. My kids need me. I want to see them grow up and there are so many wonders in the world which I have yet to see and experience. 

For people suffering from PTSD, every day we wake up, we are winning. 

Suicide awareness and prevention

The fallacy of “spreading suicide awareness” on anti-social media 

Suicide is not a light topic to discuss. Having lost loved ones to suicide, and dealing with my daily struggles of suicidal ideation, I have  a pretty solid understanding of its effects on both sides.

Although people mean well, when they share posts about suicide awareness, I get angry. I don’t get angry with the people specifically, but with society as a whole–for several reasons. 

Generally speaking, we have become disconnected due to social media. I see people on dates or having coffee together, and their faces are staring at screens. We rarely talk face to face with people, and generally choose to text instead of call. Surely this doesn’t apply to everyone, but even if it doesn’t apply to you, I’m sure you have witnessed it.

Suicide has been glamorized as an attention-getter to teens and young adults. When  a person is tragically lost to suicide, there is a tendency for people to flood their facebook pages with posts of grief. People who are closest to them naturally get messages and posts with words of condolences and love. Next, we start to see people who went to school with that person, but never actually talked to them, post about spreading suicide awareness, and getting their satisfactory amount of “likes” and attention. Which leads to cases like this. 

Suicide prevention is a serious issue that deserves attention, as it is quite literally a matter of life or death. The approach to spreading awareness, however, is ineffective and shallow. The people who mean well by sharing suicide hotline numbers and thinking they’ve done their part in suicide prevention are quite unaware of the topic for which they are trying to advocate.

Just weeks ago, when I was at what seemed to be a dark point of no return, I tried calling a suicide hotline. The answer was automated. I HUNG UP. If my husband didn’t answer the phone,  (I was just going to leave him a voicemail) I wouldn’t be here writing this today. 

Despite seeing countless posts from “friends” saying to call them or a suicide hotline in their efforts to prevent suicide, I didn’t think to call them. I didn’t feel comfortable enough to. How can anyone feel comfortable calling a stranger (even disconnected friends can feel like strangers) in their most vulnerable state? 

I still see posts mourning people who have been lost to suicide, and my heart shatters for them, whether I know them or not, I grieve heavily for them. One of them was a mother of three, and that shook me to the core.

My children could have been enduring the pain her children are in. 

My husband once asked me why it affects me so much when I hear about people whom I’ve never met committing suicide. The best way I could think to explain it to him was to compare it to the experience of a cancer survivor. They’ve survived cancer, yet they still lose people to it, and there is that looming fear of it coming back to get them. They understand the pain the person endured before passing, and the thoughts and feelings they possibly experienced as well. They see the pain the loss causes the families, and worry about possibly causing their families the same. 

Cancer is a disease, and suicide is a choice.”

Touché.

This brings me to my next point about the lack of understanding. Suicide is a fatal symptom of a disorder more than it is a choice. There is an umbrella of mental illnesses that each come with their own stigmas. 

People with depression are labeled as hating the world and wanting to kill themselves and everyone around them. People with PTSD are most likely back from combat and are ticking time bombs waiting to explode. People with bipolar disorder are unpredictable and unstable. Get the picture? Society labels people who suffer from mental illness as generally dangerous. In that same breath, they try to prevent suicide by saying to open up and talk about it. 

So we can be labeled more? No, thank you.

The only way to truly prevent suicide is to break the disconnection among humanity. Reach out and actually talk to people. Get to know one another. BE PRESENT. 

Furthermore, we need to end the stigmatization of mental illness. Just because it isn’t visible doesn’t mean it isn’t painful. Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean you have to fear it. Mentally ill does not equate to criminally insane or unfit to be a parent or other contribution to society. 

To truly prevent suicide, we need to spread compassion and efforts to understanding. 

It may not be the most popular approach, but I believe with every fiber of my being, that it would be the most effective in saving lives.

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Disordered Eating

I eat when I’m hungry. 

For years, this has been my explanation for why I would only eat one meal a day. I have 3 kids, two dogs, and a full-time school workload. To me, it seemed perfectly normal to forget to eat every once in a while (although this happens daily). 

My mom had an eating disorder, so surely I know the signs of that.  I know I don’t need to lose weight, and I don’t think I’m fat, so surely that isn’t the case with me…or is it?

Many are under the impression that eating disorders happen because people want to lose weight. While at the surface, this is true, the underlying cause is usually control. When we feel as though everything around us is out of control, the one thing we  can control is if we eat. 

There have been times where I felt empowered by not eating. I’d be hungry and hurting inside, but not eating would give me a sense of control. I haven’t ever admitted this to anyone, including myself, before. 

I never put much thought into my eating, or lack thereof, until my therapist asked about my eating habits. I told her about how I just don’t feel hungry, and forget to eat until I do. I found it interesting that she referred to my eating habits as “disordered eating”, which is a component of PTSD. I hadn’t heard of that before, and it made me wonder if I did have an eating disorder that turned into disordered eating, or maybe it’s a bit of both. 

I’m never happy with my body. It upsets me when people say I’m too skinny, but then I also get disgusted with myself when I gain weight. It isn’t at the forefront of my mind that often, so I brush it off. Perhaps this is something I need to look into further and fix somehow.

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Do I hate my husband?

We’ve been through a roller coaster, as is the case with most relationships. In the beginning, we had our issues. I was insecure, and he didn’t know how to love. We fought-a lot-and were both at fault at different times. We’ve endured and overcome more than I’d like to share.

As time progressed, I overcame my insecurities, and tried to be the best mom and wife I could be. Yet, no matter what, there was always a distance between us, and I was always falling short somehow. Instead of fighting, I was just being hurt. 

This continued for longer than I’d like to admit, but then came the day where the unthinkable happened. I opened up (more like had a nervous breakdown) and told him what his dad did to me when he was deployed. 

I don’t know if he felt bad for treating me so terribly throughout those years while I carried that burden, or what, but he became the husband I saw when we said “I do.” 

He became supportive and started helping me with the kids. He defended me to his family, and for the first time in my life, I felt free. I felt safe and unguarded with him. I was finally married to my best friend. Everything was perfect-until Christmas.

He decided that this fresh start shouldn’t begin on a lie, and decided to come clean about an affair that he didn’t consider to be an affair by only giving the details that he felt were relevant. 

She was a coworker. He didn’t think he cheated on me, but she told him how good looking he was, and then sent him a dirty picture, and he sent one back. The “irrelevant” details I had to pry out of him were that he created a secret email account so they could communicate regularly. He didn’t cheat on me because he didn’t have sex with her. He didn’t cheat on me, because neither of them had any intentions of it going further than flirting. 

Yes, because last time I pulled my head out of my ass, people exchange  nudes with perfectly innocent intentions. 

While he was treating me like shit at home, he was flirting with someone else. I wish he would have told me then and spared me.

I was in the bathroom getting ready when he broke this to me…through text message. We were in different states. I remember feeling like I didn’t know if I was going to pass out or throw up. I was crying so hard. The rug of bliss had been pulled out from under me. 

He called. I wanted her name. I wanted to knock their stupid heads together. At first he said he didn’t remember her name, but then I reminded him that he wasn’t married to a bloody idiot. I messaged her. 

She said that she only continued with the flirting when he told her I knew about it. Even now, this makes me simultaneously laugh and boil. 

NO SANE MARRIED PERSON WOULD EVER BE OKAY WITH THAT, EVER. 

So now, I’m trying to work through and process all of this on top of everything else. I’m still angry. The infidelity happened years ago, but I just found out this last Christmas. It is a raw wound that keeps reopening when I’m reminded of how wonderful I thought we were before I found out. 

I don’t trust him. Time will tell, but I don’t want us to waste anymore than we already have. I am so angry and hurt that sometimes it feels like I hate him. I don’t want to hate him. 

I’m just so sick of people hurting me and having the pain minimized. 

“Are we really doing this now?”

“It happened a long time ago.”

“I’m not defending my actions, but it could have been worse…”

I just want to set the world on fire when I hear that shit! 

I want to move forward, and give him a chance without harboring these feelings. I can’t help but wonder if I’m too far gone. 

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Trapped

From the cradle to the grave,

All I’ve known is pain.

Happiness always coming with a price,

Every smiling face with a hidden dagger.

So many walls up,

that now they’re caving in.

Living in this claustrophobic hell,

Trapped in my own mind.

Existing without ever living,

Loving without ever feeling

love’s safe embrace.

Damaged beyond repair,

Hopeless with no one to care.

Everyone for themselves,

I am a dying breed of human.

Compassion is killing me,

Love is a dagger in my own heart.

Every breath, I breathe for others.

I’m lost in the abyss. 

Trapped in the loneliness.

Angry and torn,

Cursing the day I was born.

I’m trapped. 

Trapped. 

Walls still closing in, 

Squeezing just enough life

to keep me lingering.

Praying for the day to come,

where I can be set free.

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First Day Jitters

Today is my first day of therapy. I drove 30 minutes with the music turned all the way up to drown out my thoughts. I was having a good day, and then my husband came home “joking” about shooting our puppy for making a mess. I told him it wasn’t funny, and he kept saying that he was only joking. 

I said that jokes are supposed to be funny, not painful. He said that it’s funny to him, and I told him that I guess that’s all that matters then. I was then told to just stop.

My therapy appointment went well. I told her a little bit about everything that’s weighing on me, and she gave me a chapter to read on coping with distress. She asked me if I have a “safety plan” for when I get to the dark place again. I told her I will go straight to the emergency room.

She wants the hospital to be my last resort, but with a lack of a safety net, it’s my only resort. The hardest part about discussing my painful experiences goes beyond their trauma. It’s a reminder of the fact that nobody was held accountable for their actions, as well as how alone I truly am. 

Sure, I have a husband and kids, but  I am still alone in my battles. Maybe learning new coping strategies will finally help heal the wounds and allow me to truly move forward in life. 

Only time will tell.