My Journey with PTSD

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Can I just scream now? I was almost done with this article and somehow I managed to delete the entire thing. Breathe in. Breathe out.

It has been a rough few months. I got a new therapist, who is great by the way, and I started my PTSD therapy. For those new here my trauma is caused by sexual, emotional and physical abuse, along with several deaths in my family that occurred very close together.

The therapy consisted of writing a narrative with my therapist. This took several sessions (I go once a week) of therapy, then the actual writing the narrative down. So many feelings were stirred up inside me, like the trauma was happening to me all over again. Then I had to read the narrative out loud to her. I made it through, but she noticed one thing. I read about the abuse in a very robotic manner. Like I was just reading words, displaced from the trauma. The deaths however, I became very emotional. The wounds all felt very fresh and I had trouble making it through.  She said the next week I would read it to my boyfriend. This made me anxious as hell.

Reading the narrative to my boyfriend should have been easy. He already knew of the trauma.  While I was reading  to him something else happened. I barely made it through the abuse part and the death part was “easier”.  My therapist questioned me, “why do you think it was hard to read to him?”  I explained that it was embarrassing to me. I blamed myself for these things happening to me.  If these things happened to my daughter or my granddaughter would I blame them? Hell no, they would be the victim and I would blame the abuser. So why is it so hard as a victim to feel like the victim?

The next week was very difficult for me, even more than normal. I did not want to be touched by my boyfriend at all. I felt undeserving and unclean. My therapist called it flash flooding instead of flash backs. Instead of specific instances coming back to me I was having a flood of feelings and they were all negative.

She had a very interesting explanation though. She said that trauma is like getting glass stuck in your hand. Instead of taking the glass out you let the skin grow over it. Yes it still hurts when you touch it but you can’t see it anymore. When you expose and talk about the trauma you open the old wound up and the glass is still there. The goal is to take the glass out and let the wound heal up like it should have in the first place.

I still have a long way to go. I let that skin grow so thick over the glass for so many years. It is stuck in there deep. I am still trying to pull the glass out so I can heal. I can’t imagine a day when I can talk about everything without becoming emotional and having flashbacks. I hope that time is soon.

Pills, Pills, Pills: An Endless Cycle

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I have always been on medications, lots of medications. Most of them were because I have Lupus, but the last year my mental health declined so most of the medications I am on are for it. A pill for depression, two mood stabilizers and two anxiety meds….yet I am no better off than I was a year ago.

Talking to my therapist a few days ago I brought this fact up. She wants to talk to my doctor about a new medication routine. Hopefully she has better luck than I did. When I mentioned my weight gain I was told “Your BMI is good and this is the best thing out there so I don’t want to change it.” When I told him the anxiety meds made me dizzy he said, “sit down.” Seriously, he said that.

Some of it is my fault, I admit. I didn’t tell him over the teleprompter (I hate that thing) that the meds just weren’t making any kind of difference in my overall mood. I am still depressed, I am still anxious, I am still a moody mess. I did tell my therapist though. I am better face to face.

So now I wait to see if they give me new medicines. I get to go through the new side effects while withdrawing from the old meds. Then what? Pray that they do their job. That the pills miraculously make my mental illness disappear? Yes I know that won’t happen but maybe they can come up with something that will help along with my weekly counseling. I just wish the doctors didn’t rely so heavily on pills, pills, pills.

 

Motivation with Depression

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Again, there has been a huge gap since last time I wrote anything. One of the symptoms of Depression is lack of motivation or desire to do things you enjoy.  I enjoy writing. So why am I not on here every day? It is not like I have anything better to do…..I just don’t “feel” like it.

Honestly I have been more depressed than average for the last month or more. I am just starting to feel a little better the last couple of days. Thank you Bipolar.  In fact the only reason I am writing now is my boyfriend is watching something stupid on television so I decided to come in the bedroom and drag out my computer.

So I did something stupid recently. Well let me back up. I changed a medicine and increased the dose within a few months which caused me a lot of weight gain. My psychologist said my BMI was normal and refused to change the fattening medicine because it is the “newest and best pill” out there for Bipolar.  Well I decided to quit taking it myself.

I know, very unwise but a bad habit people with Bipolar do. I wasn’t doing it because I felt better, but because I felt more depressed from gaining weight. After being off of the medicine for only 2 days I was a weeping mess. Needless to say my boyfriend was very much insistent on me restarting the pill and I did. So now I am just on a very low calorie diet hoping to lose weight that way. Seriously, who wants to go into the summer chubby?

I also got a new therapist. The Borderline Personality part of me began to freak out. Abandonment issues, trying to trust someone new. It was a bad situation but only in my head. She is great. She is very knowledgeable of all my conditions and is seeing me weekly. She has done more good in 2 sessions than my other one did in months.

Did you know that people with PTSD actually have changes in their brain that can be healed with therapy and support of loved ones? I didn’t have a clue. At least there is some hope in that case.  She is going to teach me some coping skills and than “write a narrative” of my trauma. That part scares me because I will be reliving everything that has happened to me in the past. She assures me that we won’t do that until my coping skills are mastered.

Well now you know what I have been up to the last month or so. Not a very educational or emotional post but maybe, just maybe this small post will motivate me to open this computer more often and get some work done.

The Disability Gods

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So most of you know that due to my physical and mental health that I have applied for disability. I applied in November, got denied in February. From friends and the lawyer I have now hired, I know this is very common. What I do not understand is that according to my lawyer I am a “sure win”, yet I have to wait a year for an appeal hearing?

What am I suppose to do for a year?

You hear about women who apply and are approved because of bad knees who are swinging around a pole in the strip bar. You hear about the men with bad backs that are approved yet are working “under the table” as roofers. So many people misuse the system that people who really need  help cannot get it.

My best friend since childhood has been fighting the system for over a year. She’s had multiple strokes, and several physical and mental problems. Luckily the job she had at the time of onset allowed for a temporary disability. Problem is, that runs out soon and she is stuck without any money, homeless, etc. Yet Social Security drags the process on and on, even though all her doctors say she is permanently disabled. Doctors don’t just throw that around, they don’t want brought into the courts. So she waits…..

My biggest problem is I moved from Florida to Tennessee. It really shouldn’t matter to Social Security, but straightening the doctor thing up has been hell. I have been here for seven months yet I still do not have all my doctor records from Florida. I have been lucky to find a mental health facility and a family doctor, but I have not been able to find a rheumatologist. Having Lupus and several autoimmune diseases that is one doctor I desperately need. Not only do I need one for treatment, but you have to have those documents for the disability board you know.

Speaking of doctors………I mentioned above that I found a great mental health facility. I have. They have wonderful counselors, but the doctor is this guy I see on a computer screen every few months who does not know me from the person that was in right before me. He is the god of medicine. He asks things like…Is it working? No? Let us increase the doses so the side effects you already have can get a little worse. Yes, I digress. It does deal with disability though. I have a packet for each doctor to fill out asking all these personal questions and domains to rate me in. A little hard to do if the doctor does not even know your name without looking at the screen in front of him.

So, what do I do for a year? Get records and beg doctors to fill out paperwork that they honestly do not have the time to screw with. My family doctor said I am permanently disabled. Why can’t that be enough? God I wish I could just walk into a school and start teaching again, or even be a maid. I want to work. I am bored out of my ever loving mind and I am getting fat. Yay for meds and sitting on your ass. Yet I know if I step into a classroom I will have a mental breakdown. Not being able to drive due to anxiety and medicines does not help either. So I will wait, stress, and then wait some more while the disability gods dangle my life in their hands.

 

 

Happy Anniversary to Me

i-nqqbmn7-xlToday makes one year since I admitted myself into the psychiatric ward of a hospital. It seems so long ago, but at the same time just like it was yesterday. So many things have changed in the past year, but I still have so much more to accomplish.

When I left the hospital I had been diagnosed with several things including Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, Bipolar 1, Panic and Anxiety Disorders.  I was given medication in the hospital and immediately upon leaving found outpatient help. My medications  were adjusted  during outpatient and are still being adjusted now.

Leaving the hospital was difficult, even though I was missing my then 5 year old like crazy. In the hospital I didn’t have to face the real world. I had someone to listen to me that didn’t judge, I was fed 3 meals a day and had no worries until night. Night time in a mental hospital is scary and loud. You don’t sleep much.

Then they released me. I was still adjusting to the medicines and the diagnosis’s. I knew I was depressed but the labels were getting to me. I jumped right back into working as a teacher, even though my therapist said it was a toxic job for me. I wasn’t going to leave in the middle of the year. I went back home to a husband who I didn’t love, to an unhealthy life. There were times I just wanted to go back to the hospital. Sometimes I still do.

My weight started dropping pound by pound. The above picture was before the hospital, not even 2 months later I was 30 pounds lighter and very anorexic. Not eating became a way to self harm. I was having so many issues adjusting to real life. Around 4 to 5 months later I separated from my husband. I knew this was a step I had to take. For him and myself. I was a horrible wife. The Borderline made it impossible to have a real relationship. At least I knew why I had so many problems now.

Separating wasn’t enough. I needed to be far, far away. I started talking to the man I am with now and we decided I should move out of state with him. Risky behavior I know for someone with Bipolar and Borderline, but I have known him my entire life and knew I would be safe. I also left teaching and I am working on getting disability for my mental and the physical illnesses I have.

So I made three huge steps even though they were all very stressful for me. I lived through the separation, retiring, and moving states away. I have now gained my weight back. Honestly I wish that would have stayed away. What woman doesn’t like to be called thin?

Even with all these changes I struggle every day. My anxiety has become worse; I haven’t driven since August. My rapid cycling from the Bipolar is finally becoming controlled thanks to medication changes. Yet the PTSD and Borderline cause me issues daily.  I want to be left alone more than I want to socialize. Some days, most days, I am basically just a bitch to the people I care about. I push and push and push. It is so hard to let people into my world.

I still see a counselor and psychiatrist. I’m working on communication right now. Yeah, not doing so hot on that. So much easier to just write things down than to sit and talk to someone. Besides, you can’t tell if I am crying through a blog.

So Happy Anniversary to Me. I have made it 1 year without having to be hospitalized and more importantly……I am alive.

 

Everything Will Be Ok

picme1So I realize I have not written in a while, but is that a surprise for someone who suffers from depression. No motivation! Besides I had surgery on my back this week and have been healing up and bored out of my ever loving mind!!!! This won’t be my typical blog. Just talking about me and what’s been going on….that’s all.

Today is the Super Bowl, blah. It is on in the other room right now and honestly I could give a crap. Sorry to anyone I offend but I tell it as it is. So I tried to practice drawing in my art journal. Realized quickly that I need to practice on the human face much more. Was playing around with color pencils since I usually use acrylics. I want to expand what I can do.

My doctor labeled me as permanently and totally disabled due to my mental illnesses. I’m not sure how to feel about it but I needed it done thanks to 38 thousand dollars I owe for student loans. The paper he filled out can help those be excused. I’m still waiting to hear something from Social Security on my claim of physical and mental disability. I hate to think of myself as “disabled”; there are so many places I want to go and so many things I want to do.  I know it doesn’t mean I can’t do these things, it just makes me feel guilty. Thing is I am disabled because I cannot work. Doesn’t mean I am helpless, just means I am unable to hold a job due to being sick all the time.

I dropped out of filing for bankruptcy. I couldn’t fly back and forth to Florida to sign paperwork. Now I am just hoping to get this student loan stuff straightened out so I can file for divorce and put my old life behind me.

I hear Lady Gaga in the background, hard not to be distracted. Good news is I don’t feel I have had any big ups or downs lately. Evidently I’ve still been irritable and cranky according to the boyfriend. Well try to get comfortable with a gash in your back. Actually getting irritable and cranky right now due to the noise. Think I am going to just go to bed. I hope everyone is doing fine and I promise my next writing won’t be such a bore. Everything will be ok.

Oblivi0n

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Oblivion, a state marked by lack of awareness or consciousness, is the best word I can use to describe the numbness of depression.  I think the majority of people think being depressed means you are sad. Not necessarily. I notice when I cry I am normally in a more anxious state. A state where I am too worried and my mind is racing. I lose control and I cry.  When I am depressed, well, I am numb.

My depression stems from many things. The Bipolar 1, Borderline, PTSD and the Chronic Illnesses I deal with. When I get depressed I simply don’t care. I don’t care about things that should make me happy. I don’t care about  doing anything or being around anyone. I try to feel guilty but I simply don’t care. I cannot feel love, joy, grief, fear, nor sadness. How can you explain that to someone? So when they ask, I say “nothing is wrong” or “I’m fine”.

When I am depressed I long to feel. I want to live life but am too unmotivated and hopeless to do so. So I sink into oblivion. This oblivion can last hours to months. I have no way to know. When I’m not in it I hate it. It angers me. How can stay out of it? There are so many things I enjoy doing. Being a mom, listening to music, painting, writing, reading….none I want to do when I am depressed. It would be great if I could just knock myself out of it, but it just isn’t that easy.

People who don’t suffer from severe depression have no way of understanding, so why bother explaining it. My boyfriend wants me to be completely open with him. Sure he can understand how it feels to be sad or even occasionally depressed, but to sink into an oblivion where you are drowning in an endless sea? Not easy to understand.

So I try to explain my feelings but end up hurting his. Just because I’m depressed today doesn’t mean I don’t love. I do love, it is deep inside me. When the fog lifts enough for me to feel, I am overwhelmed with guilt and sadness. I don’t want to make anyone feel not enough or unwanted. I feel that way enough myself.

My point is don’t confuse depression with sadness. It isn’t the same thing. Sadness is a much better feeling.

Thanks for reading.

Nightmares from New Years’ Past

2598287628_3cfaaef686So I sit here on New Year’s Eve with no distractions. 2016 was not my year, but neither have the last 41 years. I did however make a big change this year. Moved to a new state with who I am sure is my soulmate, going through bankruptcy so I can legally divorce my ex and going through the disability process for mental and physical illness.

See, I hate New Years. I normally try to go out and distract myself or spend it with my immediate family, this year I am miles away from them. Why do I hate New Years? Well because when I was 15 years old my Great Grandmother shot herself. Obviously she suffered through mental illness also, and probably passed it down through the generations to me. I don’t blame her, I can definitely understand. Hell, she made it to her 80’s I have to give her props there.

With my situation this year I am not able to go out due to no babysitter. Sure I have family here to spend it with, but none that remember the pain of that day. Yes, I am 41 and this happened when I was 15. You do the math,  I am too tired mentally. Thing is something like that doesn’t go away. I have lost many people very close to me which has been part of my Complex PTSD issues, but suicide does something to you. Especially when some days you think that is the only thing that will fix your own problems, yet you remember the pain that it causes and it helps you stay strong. Well in my case anyway.

It helps to sit here and write and I have some art I can work on, but I had rather just crawl in bed and stay there all day and night. I will be strong though, as strong as I can convince myself to be anyway. I have a bottle of champagne with my name written on it for later. I know I shouldn’t drink on all my meds, but if this isn’t a special occasion I don’t know what is. Besides, isn’t that how you are suppose to celebrate New Year’s Eve? With friends and ring in the upcoming year with joy? I feel no joy and I don’t have friends here. Hard to make new friends when you are either stuck at home or in a doctor’s office. I learned by moving states that people you thought were true friends…well weren’t. If they can’t bother answering a text, than they never cared. Whoops, I got off topic. I’ll have to save that issue for another time.

So I sit here in bed writing and dreading the day in general. Better to hide out than bring anyone else down with me, right? No, I know I need to get up and stay busy. God knows I have plenty to do, just lacking in the motivation.  I am suppose to be coming up with 3 goals for my life for my therapist to work on with me. I haven’t come up with one yet. Maybe that should be one. Woman up and stop being a Debbie Downer. But today, I will just live.  Happy New Year’s my friends.

Happy or Manic

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I must admit that I have had several good days lately. I know I am “happy” where I am now and the life I am living, but with the different issues I deal with I even hate to use that word. Maybe because I never really learned what true happiness was.

So the last few days I haven’t been sad, angry, or overly upset by things. Meds finally working? Doubtful, why would they be any different in the months I have been taking them? However, still a possibility. Have I finally come to accept myself and let myself feel happiness instead of the constant stress of the world? Maybe, but in the back of my mind something whispers in my ear, “You aren’t better. You are having a manic episode.”

Most people know that bipolar, also known as manic depression is a serious mental illness where a person goes from being depressed to being manic. It looks different on everyone and even can look different on the same person due to medications.  I have so much difficulty distinguishing my Borderline Personality from my Bipolar Swings. They are so similar. From what I am learning is that when I am enraged or angry for no reason it is because of the BPD (Borderline), and if I am extremely ecstatic, hypersexual, wanting to spend money that it is due to the mania from the bipolar.

So here is the thing. I feel happy, I have had several good days. Not extremely ecstatic, hypersexual, or wasting money (unless you count Starbucks); but I am being treated with an antidepressant, medicine for bipolar, and a mood stabilizer. From my understanding, I shouldn’t be getting really depressed or really manic if these drugs are doing their job. They better be with my weight gain.

Why am I even questioning my happiness? Well, because that little voice is telling me it’s not real. Any moment from now I am going to be depressed. Instead of laughing I will be crying over stupid holiday commercials. I know, I know, I shouldn’t let worrying about things mess up the happiness I am feeling. It is just that damn voice I can’t shut up.

I guess the best thing I can do is enjoy these good days when they come, especially since they are coming at all. It has been a long time since I felt this loved, content and overall positive that I am where I am meant to be in my life finally. I know I will have bad days, everyone does. You don’t have to have a mental illness to have a crappy day. I just have to be more mindful; and if the crappy day becomes more than a day seek help.

Well for now I will enjoy this happiness while I have it. Especially since it isn’t hurting anyone for once. And, if it turns out to be a manic episode. So be it, I can handle these mild swings. Especially with the support I have always longed for.

 

Why I Hate Borderline Personality Disorder.

stocksnap_mi902j0x1hOne of the first things I was diagnosed with in the facility was Borderline Personality Disorder. I had never heard of it. Was the doctor saying I had multiple personalities? He explained a little about it; like it is an actual change in your personality due to the trauma I had dealt with when I was young. It may seem I am two people at times, but I am always aware of who I am. So this has lead me to do my own homework while working with professionals and medications.

So according to NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a condition characterized by difficulties in regulating emotion. This difficulty leads to severe, unstable mood swings, impulsivity and instability, poor self-image and stormy personal relationships. People may make repeated attempts to avoid real or imagined situations of abandonment. The combined result of living with BPD can manifest into destructive behavior, such as self-harm (cutting) or suicide attempts.” ( – See more at: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Borderline-Personality-Disorder#sthash.b80GreQ5.dpuf)

Unfortunately; when I research the symptoms of BPD, I am pretty much cookie cutter and not sure why someone didn’t figure this out until I turned 41. “Splitting” is what it is called when you are in a relationship and one minute he is the world and nothing else matters. However; within minutes or hours, you hate him and he is a controlling asshole. Possibly the reason why I am going through my 3rd divorce right now. My own choice, but like the others I knew I couldn’t make the person happy because something wasn’t right. I blamed them but at the same time blamed myself.

Some symptoms mimic bipolar, which I have also been diagnosed with. One thing I notice is that the mood swings due to bipolar are less rapid than those associated with BPD. Yet, they (the medical doctors and therapist) said I can have both.

Another thing I hate is I have no filter. You say something that hurts me, I lash out with words that will hurt you before I can even comprehend what I am saying or the consequences. Sometimes I don’t understand what is being told to me. I don’t “hear” what is being said, I am hearing what my mind tells me. Something simple as “are you okay?” turns into “you look like you are about to kill yourself, do you need me to get help?”  These misunderstandings cause so many arguments, but I honestly don’t want to argue. I just don’t understand.

I can go from being very depressed and having suicidal ideations to reckless or impulsive behavior such as: spending too much, reckless sexual activity, self harm including cutting.  All of these also cause problems in relationships.

I don’t handle stress well. Something that may not be a big deal to others, yet can make me so paranoid that I almost have a psychotic break.

There aren’t really any medications for BPD. You can take mood stabilizers, antidepressants and anxiety medications to control some of the symptoms but not to a level I find acceptable. There are also some behavioral therapies that have been known to help. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (which I will be trying soon) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

I wish I had known about the illness and treatments 20 years ago and I could have saved myself and many others a lot of heartache. I can’t go back; I can’t change the things I have done. If there is anyone reading this that I have hurt. I sincerely apologize. I wish I could have done something about it. I know there is always a choice but those choices don’t make much sense when you are un medicated and don’t think anything is wrong with the choices.

Again, I am in a new relationship. This time with both of us knowing what we are getting into. He goes to my therapy with me, researches his own and even though I put him through hell daily says he will never leave.

Oh, did I forget to mention BPD patients generally have an unrealistic fear of abandonment. Luckily through therapy and a lot, I mean a lot of talking, I am confident that he will continue to stick by me through this all. Now my job is to not screw it all up. BPD, I hate you.