An Altered Life

Trauma changes a life. Even just one incident can completely change the path that you feel your life is going.

For years, I just thought that I could avoid talking about all those terrible times. Not have to “get my feet wet.” I just wanted to move on and live my life.

I am learning that trauma does not work that way. Not that I am diving in head first either, yet I am learning that I have to go all the way into the experience.

I hate feeling vulnerable, yet I have to expose myself in therapy. Take the mask off that I wear each day to protect myself and to let emotions out that I normally keep closed off.

Trauma work is scary. The trauma changed me and the work is allowing me to realize who I am. One area that I am passionate about is advocacy. Telling my story, working with organizations, and being open when I can. Maybe it will allow someone else to not be scared to get help or help someone to understand a friend or loved one with a mental illness.

Right now, I am working on who I am and where I want my life to go. I wish I could say the path was easy, but I cannot. I struggle. There are days when I do not want to get out of bed. The suicidal thoughts are still there. Self harm is still an everyday struggle. 

I do not know where I will end up. I am trying to work on myself one day at a time.

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When a Movie Can be an Example

Trauma is often not understood. Terms like flashbacks, hyper-vigilance, and dissociation are foreign. 

Today, my kids wanted to watch The Hunger Games. As I watched with them, I saw all of those terms come alive on the screen. I thought, I wished more people understood. 

Trauma does not go away. It gets relived and revisited. Therapy is slow and tedious for me. I am a detail person and some memories are like walking through a fog, while others are clear.

It is scary to say them out loud. For me, it makes whatever happened real. It is easier to believe it was all a horrible nightmare. 

Worth the Fight

Last year, my ex wanted to take the kids away from me because I was “mentally unstable.” I took out loans to fight back. 

Today, I get to see my kids wake up in the morning and hug them at night. They are growing up too quickly. It is nice to see them texting their friends or wanting to do something different from everyone else. 

Last night, I injured myself and needed medical attention. The kids stayed alone for the first time ever. I was probably driving them nuts texting them every 15 minutes to see how they were. I was happy that I was only gone for a couple of hours and home in time to put them to bed. 

My kids give me strength. Today, I just want to focus on them and enjoy the time that I have with them.

Spring Break

My ex is supposed to drop the kids off this morning. I called them yesterday to wish them a happy Easter. Only two of my three kids talked to me. Normally, I would not be upset if my oldest did not talk. That is almost normal anymore. Even his siblings have learned not to ask him to talk. Yet yesterday was a holiday.

Am I putting to many expectations on him? Should a holiday be just like any other day? I am struggling with those ideas right now.

As for me, no school or dance this week. I do have therapy. It is hard to deal with the trauma. I have so many layers blocking the emotions that go with the events. Sometimes I can feel the internal struggle of whether or not to talk. My therapist does not push to get things out. In that way, it is my choice. There is an internal struggle to talk. Sometimes half of me is really wanting to talk and then there are parts that seem to be blocking the words from coming out.

Unfortunately, the drug companies do not make a med for that and there is not a quick fix. Just a lot of therapy, journaling, and the use of coping skills. 

Yes, it is spring break. At least as far as school is concerned. There is not a break in the thoughts that are in my head. There is not an off or a pause button. I wish that there were!

A Year Later

This time last year, I did not have any hope of seeing my kids. My ex and I were involved in yet another lawsuit.

This year, I will see the kids tomorrow and they will be able to spend the night! Last year, I thought that I had lost them. In a strange way, they were the ones that did this. They never waivered on the fact that they wanted to see me. No matter who asked them.

Tomorrow, I will see them and be able to spend part of spring break with them. We will hang out, watch movies, and just be a family!

Making Hard Decisions

Yesterday, I had an appointment with one of the members of my treatment team. After talking with them, I decided that while I had the support of my husband and my team, I would let my mother know that she could not come over and see the kids. I feel guilty, yet I had to do what is best for the kids and I in the long run. They do not need someone coming in and out of their lives at random.

My PTSD symptoms are high. Last night I had nightmares and hyper-vigilance. It seems like there is always a cost. From past experience, I know that things will get better. When is the real question. 

Today I am going to work on taking care of myself and try to clean an area of the house that I have been wanting to go through.

A Phone Call

Finally, I thought, Spring Break and Easter with the kids. Things at school are going better and I have come to terms with the fact that my treatment team is changing.

As I was just talking to my husband last night the phone rang. The caller ID stated that it was my mother. I have not spoken to her since December. She has chosen to not communicate with me and I have been working through that in therapy.

My parents who have not seen my kids since 2013, want to see them. They want the kids to come out to the front lawn and meet them so that they can see them and say goodbye. WHAT??? Was she joking??? I asked her about having a relationship with me. About being a mom. All she said was that it was to late. Apparently, her and my father are sick. She did not mention what with or if they were given a certain amount of time to live. My mother has been telling me she is going to die since I was little.

I just got my kids back after among court battle. They have their own issues and are getting through them with a lot of support. I do not want to subject them to seeing my parents and being hurt again. They just got used to them not coming around. Plus, this always happened to me as a kids. People would come in and out of my life based in my parents.

I really do not think that it is healthy for my kids to see my parents. I know that it is not good for me. I told her that I would get back to her. She choose to take herself out of my life and I cannot change that.

My health and my kids has to come first.

An Unexpected Ending

Yesterday, I shared that I was uncomfortable touching other classmates for an assignment in one of my classes. I talked to the department head and the class instructor who were both on board and even offered accommodations.

When I arrived at class, I was apprehensive. Would this instructor really understand. Not only did she understand my issue, but she also had an alternative activity already planned for me. What a relief to know that I had a choice.

What came next shocked me! I actually wanted to participate in the activity after the class had already done some of the other activities. I participated and it was my choice. It was not the most comfortable, yet I was so proud of myself for trying. In the end, I overcame one of my worst fears.

This does not change that I don’t really liked to be touched. It does open up the discussion in therapy for being more comfortable around people that I know are safe for me to be around.

Pushing, pushing , pushing

Sometimes I think that if I just push myself enough, I can get over whatever it is that I am struggling with. That thinking is not working with one of my classes. I just feel worse each day that I go. Everyday the class brings up additional traumatic memories.

At other times pushing myself works. Getting more involved with NAMI is one example. After the experience, I feel like I actually accomplished something.

Then there are the kids. My ex really believed that I would not fight for him taking visitation away. At the time, I pulled all of my resources to fight him to get back visitation. I am going to see my kids this year for the holidays.

I guess the lesson I have to take away is how much to push and how much it will affect me in the long run. Is it something that will make me stronger? Will it contribute to gong downhill and having to seek inpatient treatment? 

Right now,  have a decision to make. What I need to think about is what is best for me in the long run.

A Rough Spring

For a trauma patient, days are not merely a number on the calendar. They are often anniversaries of things that have happened. I wish I could say that they were positive.

There are a number of stresses right now. I am trying to take one day at a time, knowing that I have gotten through these times in the past using coping skills. 

This year there are a few added stressors. My class is getting overwhelming that we have to work with another person in class and use their body as a surface for support. Just to put this in context, I cannot take someone brushing my shoulder in a store. I know it is something that I need to work on.

On top of that, I am losing a member of my treatment team. Every treatment provider is different and I will greatly miss this person and their way of treating patients.

This is also one of the first time that I will have the kids by myself. There is an internal struggle about how much of a mom I really am. I am worried that I am not going to be enough.

Then there are the feelings from the past that I am working on connecting with words. This work is still very new. Up until now, I have had a consistent problem with safety.

Outside, it is a nice day. I wished that translated to how I feel.