Still Awake

It amazes me how I can take a sleeping medication and still be up all night. Maybe I am just nervous about the training today. In a couple of weeks I am going to be able to sit down with my representatives and tell my story. I cannot believe how lucky I am, yet I need to also convey how important funding and programs are to all of us who have a mental illness.

I am looking toward to the training and to meeting other people who are going through the same challenges. Sometimes it is good to know that others have the same issues!!

A Little Background (Not Pretty)

Image

I thought I would put a picture a picture of a storm coming over the mountains. Seems like a fitting start. At this point I do not want to go into too much detail, however; I am sure that some people are wondering how I could have PTSD. PTSD is widely known as being an effect of military service.

I wish that were true. My PTSD (along with many other people who I have met over the years) came from abuse in my childhood. Not one isolated incident and not the spankings that some people received and were quite “normal” in the 70’s and 80’s. My abuse went on for years and occurred daily. I was also abused during my marriage, yet if you would talk to me ex-husband everything was great.

As a result of the abuse as a child, I have PTSD. I have flashbacks, I am hyper-vigilant, I have nightmares, and I have symptoms that I am still working on in therapy. If I am to be perfectly honest I have self harmed and I have been inpatient in a unit that specialized with PTSD. Flashbacks are moments where I feel like everything from the past is happening all over again. I feel/experience the world around me as if I were back in that time period. A flashback can be triggered by a noise, a smell, or seeing and object that may remind me of a time when I was abused. Hyper-vigilance means that I am always scared or on the look-out for something to happen to me or around me. Just those two symptoms make it hard for me to go out in public.

My doctor feels that my fibromyalgia was brought on by the years of stress and anxiety of the PTSD. The fibromyalgia is exhausting and caused pains. Unfortunately it also causes me to feel off-balance, maybe because the pain is triggering memories.

All of this makes it hard to leave the house. I am lucky as I have said to have friends and family that are understanding. This was one of the hardest posts that I have written. I am being as detailed as I can be at the moment and hope to share more as I become more comfortable with this format.

In other news-I received an email last night that a black lab is being looked for at this moment to be my service dog. This is going to be a huge undertaking and I am up for the challenge. In the end, I am going to have a service dog who can brace me when I am unstable, help me to get up out of chairs on days when I can barely move, and assist with my PTSD symptoms. So much to look forward to. Not the nursing degree that I thought that I would have at this point, yet life does not always work out in the way that we planned. Who knows, maybe I will advocate for others with my illness one day!!

Yes!! A service dog

It looks like my search for a service dog may have found a match. The first company wanted between 24 and 56 thousand dollars. There was no way I could afford that.
I received a call last night where I would get the dog from them and they would assist me with training. The cost is still high but one third of the low end of the other company. The company also gives me two years to pay off the dog. I am excited about the possibility of a service animal!!! Crossing my fingers!

Trying to Have Acceptance

DSCF4163

I was officially diagnosed with my mental illness in 2004. Before that I guess that it was unofficial. Not that it did not affect my life. Ever since I could remember I just did not fit. Unlike others around me, I could not make friends easily, keeping a job was next to impossible, and I would have unexplainable mood swings. The diagnosis put a name to my  illness and allowed me to find a treatment team who knew about my illness and what worked.

I thought, maybe prematurely that I was getting better. I was back in school, feeling like a mom to my kids, able to pay my bills. Yet, the illness is always there. I cannot change what happened to be or how other physicians and nurses treat me when they see what medication I was taking. I could work hard though, get good grades, practice, and study as much as possible.

When I started to tell my internist about the aches and pains that I was having I was told it was all in my head. I just needed to relax. I am not sure how a person who is actively having symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder is supposed to relax, yet I must have not accomplished the relaxation well enough for the pain to go away.

When I went to see a new doctor last year, I just hoping that she would at least tell me it was not all in my head. I was happy to go have some tests done, maybe they would show something. Long story short the tests did show some arthritis in my back and a herniated disc. The only problem was the specialists did not think that those were the cause of all my pain. Finally 7 months and I do not know how many tests later a doctor told me it was fibromyalgia. Even though, I was in nursing school, I thought maybe there was an easy solution. A pill, a surgery, something. That was not to be. Since my diagnosis I have been to warm water therapy. It made me feel worse instead of better. I need to use a cane for balance. I have been told that if I work up to it, I may be able to complete 20 -30 minutes of exercise a day in 6 months to a year.

There is no way right now that I can stand on my feet for 8 hours or feel comfortable enough to assist anyone with walking. I can barely make my own bed. This is from a person who danced for 18 years, who went to the gym, who went back to school to take finals right after having an appendix out. I have always pushed myself with school. This time, my body is pushing back. Do to much and I cannot get up, my back hurts, I get pains shooting up my legs. Don’t exercise enough and I become weaker than I currently am. I thought the can would be temporary. That was September. I know there are people that have it worse. I just wished that I could have finished school. Instead I am researching pain management doctors.

Luckily, I have people in my life who understand what I am going through and accept me and all of my flaws. I just wish that I could accept myself. To me, I have failed.

 

Randomness

5 am and I was once again woken up by the cat looking for food. She always seems to know her schedule. That amazes me how animals can do that. I used to have a dog growing up that would sit by the door at the same time each day until I took her for a walk.

I wish that life was that simple. I have therapy assignments that I just cannot seam to get accomplished. Each time I start the assignment, I panic and have a flashback. I seem to be getting nowhere quickly. Sometimes, I wish that I wasn’t so alone in my illness. I am lucky in that I have a husband and family who support me. It just seems as if the people who truly understand what PTSD is like to live with have been in the hospital with me.

I guess that is why the service dog is so important to me. The dog could assist with my symptoms and help me to get past them. Some people have dogs that alert them to seizures or guide them with sight. This dog could be specially trained to keep people at a certain distance, recognize panic attacks before the became debilitating, and be trained in other ways. If anyone is interested in looking up what these amazing dogs can do, the name of the organization is Heeling Allies. They are the only provider of service animals for people with PTSD that I know of that one does not have to be a veteran. All of us with complex PTSD have gone through so much. I guess that is why I want to share my story.

Service Dog Update

I had a conference this morning and am going to receive the application today for the mental health service dog. I am excited and nervous. The dog is going to be as much as a small car. I am looking forward to many years with the dog and to having more freedom. The dog will be a huge part of the healing process for me.

On a side note. Our family had started a fundraising website for the dog and my medical expenses. I do not know how it occured, but my oldest child somehow included the website in his project for school which I am sure that I did not have the internet or the website available while he was working on his project. I had to take the website down. No big deal, just upsetting that my ex founf out and could read all of my personal information.  I guess there are worse things and the website is down now.

The good news, is that I can start the application process!!!!  So excited about the possibility of having the dog by the end of the year!

What a Weekend!!

Having a mental illness coupled with Firbromyalgia really sucks sometimes. I am so sore today I can hardle move and the gloomy weather is not helping the mood. Come on spring!! Yesterday, we took the tree down and went to the library. Before I got ill, that would not have been that big a deal. In fact, I could have come home and made some cookies or cooked dinner. Instead my back felt like someone had used it for a punching bag and my legs felt like jello.

This morning the kids wanted to do so much with me and I wanted to, yet my body is in so much pain I can barely get off of the couch. I feel helpless and inadequate as a mom. Talk about kicking off the PTSD feelings. I am so glad to have a husband who is so willing to take over where I cannot. He has gotton the kids breakfast and lunch. He has gone upstairs to check that the kids have finished what I asked. Without him, I do not know what I would do!!

I am so nervous about my interview tomorrow. I would really like to have a mental health service dog. My husband would not have to come along all of time and I could be more independent. I am also worried about the cost of the dog. The dog needs to be specially trained to be qualified as a service animal. The training is not cheap and then there is a two week period for me to train with the dog as well as follow ups. None of that is cheap. Yet, having a service animal would be helpful to me according to my therapist. My family set up a website for donations, however; no one seems to be giving. I realize that these are tough times for everyone, yet even 5 dollars would help. The service dog can cost between 10,000 and 30,000 depending on how much traing the animal needs. My last hospitalization cost that much. I would like to be able to pay off my bills, get the dog and live a life like everyone else.
My therapist feels that the dog would be a great help and may even get me to the point that I could return to some kind of part time job.TMy mental illness may not be who I am, yet it does affect what I can and cannot do. It affects how safe I feel in my home, it affects my memory, and it has affected my friendships. /p>

Busier than I thought

Well, I guess I do not need to wonder what I am doing anymore this weekend with the kids. In fact, I almost cannot think of how I am going to get it all done. One has a report, I promised one a puzzle as well as helping with school work, and then I have a third that I have no idea what I am going to do with!!  He does not have any school work and would be content to play video games all day long.

Tomorrow, we are taking down the holiday decorations. I bought the kids color-coded bins to put their decorations in. Ok, so maybe I have a little OCD. Each year, they get a new decoration. I also want to try to make cookies this weekend.

I am trying to make chocolate chip cookies using whole wheat flour for the first time. One of the holistic and nutritional approaches to fibromyalgia is cutting out white flour and sugar. I have done OK with the white flour. My stomach does not hut as much. Every so often, I still need sugar!! Before I became ill I would have eaten candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Now it is a special treat!! I will have to post how the cookies turn out. At least we are busy.

A weekend with the kids

20130111-111008.jpg

The kids are coming tonight!!! I am never sure of what the weekend will bring. One of the kids already told me that she has been feeling sick for three days!! I hope she gets better soon. The picture is actually one of her paintings!!

They are growing up so quickly. I love that they can call me by themselves now and that they are all so different! There are times that I miss the days where I could rock them to sleep or where they sang to music that they knew.

Even though I was able to stay home with them, I spent time in the hospital!! I missed some important moments with the kids while I was getting treatment and to top it off, I lost custody in the divorce because of my illness.

I am one of the lucky parents though! I get to see my children every third weekend and on the holidays. Some parents are not so lucky. The National Association of Non- Custodial Moms has thousands of stories like mine.

So, what are we going to do?? One of the perks of the schedule is that I get to be the fun parent!! Maybe bake some cookies, puzzles, board games, or catch a movie. Whatever we wind up doing, it will be fun and as a family:-)

The go ahead

I went to see my therapist this morning and discussed how a service dog could help me. My therapist thinks that a service dog will be a great addition to my therapy. The dog will be able to help with nightmares, panic attacks, flashbacks, hyper vigilance, and the agoraphobia!!
Now I am really excited about my interview on Monday and can let the director of the program know that my doctor is on board!!
In other news, there is a fundraising board to help with the mounting medical bills that my illnesses have brought about. Also, even the dog is needed for medical reasons, insurance does not help. I am hoping to get friends and family to help in whatever way they can.
To those who are reading my blog, thank you.