Friday, July 13, 2012

PTSD - It Doesn't Just Affect Veterans of War

I've never admitted it to anyone before, but a few years ago when I sought help, my therapist said he thought I had PTSD. He was a social worker so I don't really know if he could officially diagnose me with it or not; however, he treated me for it, nevertheless.

It may seem a bit extreme but given the events that Shane and I experienced surrounding Madelynn and Mason's birth, the roller coaster ride that is the NICU, and Madelynn's subsequent death, it definitely fits. Some of what I was experiencing could be contributed to post partum depression, but there was definitely much more to it than that. I lost interest in the things that I normally enjoyed doing. I no longer found joy in knitting or scrapbooking or reading. I had a really hard time focusing on things. I'd find myself rereading the same sentence in a book (if I even felt like reading) at least a dozen times because I just couldn't stay focused. I became extremely forgetful. I'd forget things that Shane said to me just hours or minutes before or I'd forget what I went to get as soon as I entered a room. I wasn't hungry most of the time. I wasn't getting much sleep and when I did sleep I was having terrible nightmares and reliving Madelynn's death. I would wake up crying because the dreams were so vivid. I wasn't just reliving things in my dreams either. There were times during the day where I would lose several minutes at a time because I was reliving various experiences from the pregnancy, delivery and NICU. About the only thing I WAS doing was taking care of Mason. I was a bit paranoid and overprotective though. I rarely let him out of my sight, I was a complete germaphobe, and I would check on him multiple times during nap time and at night while he slept to make sure he was still breathing. He was my reason for living; however, I wasn't the mother that he deserved, nor the wife that Shane deserved. I finally admitted to myself that I needed to get some help.

I went to therapy for several months. At first it was really hard for me to talk about things. My poor therapist. He must have felt like a dentist since he was practically pulling teeth!! After about a month of sessions, he recommended a book on grief and he started a specific treatment program with me that he thought would be highly beneficial. I can't remember what it was called but it was definitely effective. Through the course of the treatment I realized one day that not only had I suffered PTSD from Madelynn's death, but also from my mother's death. That session was very eye opening for both my therapist and myself.

Shortly after that breakthrough, my therapist felt that I had made enough progress to reduce my sessions to just once a month. Life got pretty hectic around that time and I ended up stopping therapy altogether. Unfortunately, there is no cure for PTSD and various things can trigger it's recurrence. Once again, in the last several months, I have been experiencing all of the above mentioned symptoms. I'm pretty sure it was triggered by my miscarriage. I have been hesitant to seek help again because I am afraid that if I am officially diagnosed or put on medication, that it will crush our dreams of adopting. Shane helped me to see though that if I don't get help, we'll likely never be able to adopt anyway. If I can't function, how will I be able to take care of myself, Mason and a baby? I want more than anything to give Mason a baby brother or sister but I need to focus on myself first so that I can be the best woman, wife and most importantly, mother to Mason and his future brother or sister that I can possibly be!!

Many of you are probably wondering why I'm putting this out there in the blogosphere. As I've said before, the whole point of this blog is to help others. In the last 14 years or so I have felt alone more often than not due to experiences that most of my friends and family couldn't fathom. I know I am not alone though. There are others out there that have had similar experiences to my own. If by sharing my story and my struggles I am able to help even one person, then I have accomplished what I set out to do. No one should ever have to feel like they are alone.

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