A Misunderstood Lifestyle ** MAY TRIGGER**

Marriage. I used to believe in meeting the right person, falling in love, enjoying common interests, marrying, and having children. After two marriages that have failed for different reason, I have a new perspective.

My first marriage failed because the strong person that he knew became mentally ill after the dam released and the symptoms of complex PTSD claimed the mind. My second marriage is still there, yet we live as friends. We just seemed to want different aspects that were missing in each other.

Enter the concept of open marriage. This does not mean cheating or just sleeping around. What it does mean is forming relationships with others who share a common interest. The possibility of intimacy is always there, yet the friendship is more important:

I can now talk to someone about my kids, interests, and all of the silly things in between. I enjoy hearing about their lives and their goals. Sharing childhood memories . Most of them I have not met and may never meet. They are in my life though and my life is fuller now because I have met them.

I want my husband to have the same. I want him to be able to be happy and fulfilled. To be able share his memories and interests with someone.

What I have learned from both marriages is that no one person is able to fulfill all of my needs or even my partners needs. This is not for everyone, yet it lets me have control over my happiness. This is the first time that has happened.

We have rules and boundaries for our open marriage and have assessed the boundaries every few months just to make certain that we are both on the same page. Maybe for some, I am a label, yet for me I feel like my life and my husbands life is better due to this choice.

Mentally Ill: The Label

Mentally ill. Those two words cam mean the difference between what life could be and what life actually is for a person. Over 15 years ago I received my diagnoses. To me, they did not define me. I just intended to get better and move on with my life.

Unfortunately, that is not what has happened. Due to my symptoms of hyper vigilance, flashbacks, and time loss; I have not been able to keep a job. When I separated from my first husband I lost my kids because I was considered “to disabled” to take care of them.

I attempted to go back to school and maybe begin another chapter in my life. Because the court records are public, I did not even make it through three weeks. The told me that I was a danger in the field.

Even among the mentally ill, the label of complex PTSD is difficult to treat because there are not any FDA approved treatments or medications that will help the symptoms. There are treatments that if I had $2,000 – $4,000 that may be available to me.

Those with some diagnoses eventually find a medication that works. They are the lucky ones. Some of us never find that and remain just on the edge of everything.

Recently, I have tried to meet people, yet because of the severe abuse that caused my PTSD, I have nothing in common with them. My family of origin was sick. The events of my life do not line up with other people. I do not trust others and push people away so that I do not get hurt.

Then there are the visible scars from my illness. The ones where even if someone meets me, they are what is the focus. Usually, I do not hear from them again. Being lonely has become a way of life. The label of. “Mentally Ill” changes the way the world and those around me treat me.

So, over 15 years later, I sit here and do not even know how to communicate with anyone but my therapist and even that is strained. I keep working on DBT and managing my anger, yet nothing is going to change that my past is part of me and that those that I trusted the most smashed that a long time ago.

Worried About My Daughter **May Trigger**

Six months ago, my daughter decided to end communication with me after an argument with her father. It has hurt and I have tried to get her to talk with me about what happened, yet she has refused. Her father is making no attempt to encourage communication.

This week, I have my son. He informed me that a friend of his texted him about some of the content on an internet site. When I looked at her page, I became worried. First, it is public. Second, she has posted what to me are inappropriate photos for her age

As someone who has been through traumas, I am worried. Anyone of any age could be looking at her profile. She is not street smart and I am worried about her getting hurt or worse.

I am at a loss as to what to do because he father is not making her take the content down. My biggest fear is that she will wind up with PTSD when it could have been prevented. Any suggestions as to how I could get the content removed because she is a minor?

Cave Man Syndrome. What???

The last time I checked what the public health officials call Cave Man Syndrome, it was agoraphobia. Fear of leaving the house because of what might happen if one steps outside.

Those of us who have agoraphobia have been battling this fear for years. Prior to COVID-19 I was often told to just suck it up and leave the house. I was asked what was so bad and why are you even afraid.

Fast forward to post pandemic quarantine. Cave Man Syndrome now tries to say that this is an effect of COVID-19 precautions. Is this latest syndrome trying to normalize behaviors that iI and others have had for years and struggled with for years??

The same behaviors and feelings that I was told to “just deal with”, have become “normal” because of the groups that are affected. Really, I have spent my life battling this . I know people whose mental illness was so frowned upon in their culture that they felt alone and alienated.

My therapist suggested have empathy. I am sorry, that is not going to happen. Due to scars and work history, there is no chance that I may ever work again. Maybe, our public health system really needs an overhaul. Someone needs to wake up and realize that people with these mental health issues existed long before the pandemic.

Tattoos for Healing **May Trigger*

From the beginning of my journey, I have had issues with self harm. Doing it , made me actually be able to calm down, yet it has left me with permanent scars that remind me of those terrible times. They also bring up how hurt I was and how messed up my life has been.

There are still difficult days and times that I feel like acting in my impulses to self harm. I am not sure those impulses will ever go away or if they will always be in the back of my mind.

Six years ago, I picked out my first tattoo. It was made up of the colors of mental health, cancer, and fibromyalgia awareness. Every time I look at that tattoo it makes me realize that I did not want to mess it up. Self harming in that spot was no longer comfortable.

I then had a tattoo in the other arm. In order to get new tattoos my scars need to fully heal. Now, they are a road map of my life. Moments of desperation as well as elation. Artists renderings of pain as well as some of my best memories.

Even with my time loss, I can look at them and the memories are triggered. They have helped me heal and solidify my journey. I am in the process of planning a full sleeve for the next piece. I cannot wait to see what my artists draws and then watch it come to life. Another step to healing.

Shattered *May Trigger*

The picture above is an accurate representation of how my heart feels. When I was little, my mother made no secret of her negative feelings toward me. To her, I was a mistake that she should have aborted.

Later in childhood, she took me away from my aunt and great grandmother who I considered my moms. They took great care of me and seemed to make the days fun. Instead, I was not able to see either of them before they died. I hate that I could not have one more conversation with them.

Kids at school bullied me constantly. Going to school was torture. I knew that from the time the first bell rang until the time I arrived home, the other students were going to say hurtful and mean comments.

In high school, every girl seemed to have dates to dances. They had boyfriends or guys that liked them. I watched as they talked about going out with friends on the weekends. I was at home. It was like I could never seem to fit in no matter how much I tried.

My first marriage ended with me losing my three children and seeing them for less than 2 months of the year. Up until that time, I was a stay at home mon who took them to school, speech therapy, and was by their side when they needed surgery. After months of negotiations, I could not handle what was happening. I signed an agreement that I regret to this day.

Fast forward to my second marriage. Maybe I realized to late that it was falling apart. That he no longer wanted to spend time with me. Now, I have become a ghost in the house. Rarely having any communication.

How many more pieces can my heart be broken into? I am not sure how much more I can take and I am scared that I will do something stupid to relieve all of the feelings of abandonment that have been with me since I was a little girl.

Medication Resistant

Approving New Treatments

There are two words that a patient with a mental health diagnosis does not want to hear. Medication resistant. When I heard those two words I became hopeless. Now, I realize that myself and others with the same issue need to fight. We need to push for treatments that the VA is using to treat medication resistant depression and PTSD.

One treatment that has shown to be effective is Ketamine infusions. Studies have shown that ketamine can reduce anxiety, nightmares, depression, and other symptoms of mental illness. The VA us using this treatment to help soldiers. Yet, as a citizen with private insurance I cannot get the treatment because it is not FDA approved for use in mental illness.

The FDA approved a vaccine for COVID-19 in record time. Most of the time it takes years for FDA approval. This illness affected people who were working age, contributed to the economy, and were essential. The public cared and the public demanded a solution to stop hundreds of thousands from dying.

I have always felt, that I and others I know with a mental illness are disposable. The drugs are astronomically expensive and psychiatrists are hundreds of dollars a visit.

Insurance will pay for hospitals that are ineffective in treating resistant depression. For me, my latest discharge basically said that my illness would not change and was chronic. Really, that is all that you can do? The last hospital stay for me was almost $30,000.

A round of Ketamine infusions (6 over 3 weeks) is around $3,000. It is 10x’s less than the last hospital bill and has shown to be effective. I will sign whatever waiver I would need to in order to get this treatment and see if it would reduce my symptoms. Big pharma and the government need to recognize that every citizen should be allowed the benefit of a treatment. Not just veterans.

Maybe there are others out there who would like to begin calling insurance companies and the FDA, letting them know that our lives our important. That we deserve to be free if the litany of symptoms that are obviously not being treated my current methods.

Shadow Work

This work has been so helpful for me

I have began to learn so much about my fears, my parts fears, and why this darkness has been with me. The journal prompts are even help me open up in therapy. After 17 years, I feel like I am slowly making a few steps forward.

A New Kind of Therapy Work

For years, I have had trouble talking about all of the events and thoughts that are not acceptable to me. All of the self hate and blaming. I advocated for myself and my insurance agreed that I could go back to my therapist of 15 years.

When he saw me and saw how depressed I was, he was immediately concerned. Then, he mentioned Shadow Work. Since regular therapy, journaling, and medications were not helping; I thought why not try this new type of work. I went on Amazon that day and ordered a shadow work journal.

When the journal arrived there were some recommendations in the front. First there was no wrong or right way to answer the questions. The second, was that there were not judgements, just write what came up first. Having complex PTSD comes with dissociation in most cases. Mine has gone past that to DID. It helps having specific topics and questions to answer. I find that I am surprised at what I am writing.

Each entry also includes a section to write what you like about yourself as well as an event that may trigger memories. There are some surprises about what might have triggered me.

Therapy this week was more productive because I had thoughts to talk about and elaborate on, which then turned into even deeper questions. It has helped a little with the feeling of self loathing. I realize I was to little to control what was said and done to me.

Shadow work seems to be helpful. I am going to continue with one question a day. I am going to use it for topics to talk about in therapy.