C-PTSD and Challenges

C-PTSD. Five letters that seem to divide those who have it from those who do not. I often hear, I got through —-, why can’t you just get over it? How long are you going to sulk? It was a long time ago, can’t you just put it behind you? Why do you need to go back to treatment?

All of these questions discount what a person has been through and how their brain has responded. Maybe, psychology classes need to teach more about PTSD and C-PTSD. Even if everyone goes through a traumatic experience, they will all have different reactions. Only a certain percentage will develop the diagnosis. For example, all soldiers do not have PTSD. Only some of them do. Society seems to be doing a better job understanding that and veterans are receiving better treatment. Although, I am sure there is more to learn.

I am going to go with what I have read in peer reviewed journals, learned through groups, and learned through talking with others who have the diagnosis. No one chooses to have C-PTSD. It sucks!!! Nightmares, flashbacks, hyper vigilance, dissociation, anxiety, and depression. Add in that most of the people I have met believe that they could have stopped whatever happened including me. By the way, NO medication is effective for any of these symptoms. Those who have this diagnosis often need years of therapy and other treatments. They need to learn to feel safe in their own body.

Treatment is a persistent issue among patients. Medicare does not cover any long term treatment. Private insurance, if one is lucky to have it, does not have any long term facilities for trauma that are in network. What does this mean? Patients wind up cycling through the same safety level of treatment when they need more. More costs a lot and when you are unable to work and don’t have rich parents that treatment becomes out of reach.

In my quest for treatment, I called many of the residential centers whose treatment times range from 3 months to 18 months. Only one accepted my insurance and it was out of network. I was told I needed $5,800 up front and they could only guarantee that it would cover 28 out of the recommended 90 days. Why go? I found it odd that I had been on a unit for safety and stabilization over 20 times. I did the calculations and it would be cheaper to provide the higher level of treatment in the long run. Other centers wanted as much as 12,000 a month and were 6 months or more.

Then there are the people who think because a person has a mental illness that they cannot do a job and are inferior. My experience came when I went to school to become a social worker. I was trying o get a BSW. My advisor seeing that I already had a bachelors, recommended going right to a Masters program. I was so excited to get accepted. I wanted to work with elderly patients or in a hospice. My placement was in neither of those areas. The school placed you without any input. After my first field placement interview I was asked to come in to see the head of the department who quickly told me all of her doubts about me being able to do this.

Fast forward to getting a field placement and being there for 6 days. Time for the faculty advisor to come in and see how we were doing. I was the last one that she saw and she was not alone. My field supervisor was in the room with her. I was told that the head of the building did not want me there any longer because I was diagnosing clients. I had been a teacher, I knew better than to diagnose anyone. None of my notes or reports showed this. What was going on? It did not matter. My mental health was to bad to be in a placement. I did not understand. I had completed all of my work and was doing well in my classes. Then I was told that the principal had also checked my background. I knew it was public knowledge that I had lost custody of my kids. That is why I did not want a placement in a school or an environment with a lot of children. I was told that the parents would be upset. The school provided me with a medical leave.

Today, I still want to be a social worker band assist families and patients with navigating the medical system. What chop would even want me???

C-PTSD comes with its own stigma and oppression. Maybe, patients do see things differently, yet that would seem to be a strength not a weakness.

Another Battle for My Kids

I had to be inpatient for a few weeks to work out a few internal conflicts and emotions. While in the hospital, I achieved and surpassed my goal. In fact, this is the first time that the techniques I have learned inside the hospital work outside of the hospital.

The downside of going inpatient is that I need to complete tasks in order to get my kids back. Sometimes it is hard knowing that I am still trying to get my bearings, yet I need to get the necessary paperwork in order to see my kids.

I had not gone in the hospital for a few years. In that time, my kids have become teenagers. Sometimes, I just want them to get to 18 so I can see them without all of these restrictions.

Having a mental illness does not mean that one will automatically lose physical custody of their children. It does mean that there will be a long and expensive battle full of experts and questioning of the kids. Luckily, my kids said that they still wanted to see me. I realize that I am lucky to still be able to have a relationship with them and watch them grow.

The In Between ** May Trigger**

Over 10 years of therapy and relatively nothing has changed. Treatment resistant, medication resistant, unable to assist. All of those have been written on my paperwork.

I told my therapist the other day that I want to die, yet no way of dying is 100%. It has been suggested that I get out and join a club. I tried a book club. The book had to many triggers and the discussion was even worse. Child abuse, spousal abuse, and substance abuse were all a part of the book.

Then I am told to go out and do normal activities. I have panic attacks at the store that leave me frozen and feeling like the store is closing in around me. I always feel like I will be attacked at places that do not have many people around like gas stations. My vocal cords seem to freeze up when I want to ask for something.

I have resorted to buying things online. Even then, I do not answer the door when the doorbell rings because I am scared of who may be on the other side. I feel like people can tell I am damaged by the way that I shake and avoid eye contact.

Then there is the anger that can be activated at any time. This is not normal anger. I am afraid I will actually hurt someone else. Anything can set off the anger and once it begins I have trouble stopping.

Where is my place in society? What do I do if I cannot leave the house and am scared to hurt people? How do I perform everyday tasks while the space is closing in on me and I am shaking to the point of just wanting to sit and scream for help?

How do I begin to work through this? When are my thoughts not automatically going to go to not existing? Who am I ? All of these are questions that I need to answer, yet do not seem to know how.

When Life Gets in the Way

My divorce was 10 years ago. Since then, I have tried to go to nursing school which ended when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and placed on a narcotic until the doctor could figure out the correct combination of meds. The narcotic made me ineligible to continue my clinical.

During those years, I was also in and out of the psychiatric hospital and my ex successfully took my kids away for 10 months while I was evaluated by the court. Eventually, I had them back. A little over a year later, my oldest stopped coming over and talking to me. I have missed so much with him that I cannot get back and miss him everyday.

Having PTSD and having problems leaving the house began working with my therapist on ways to get me out of the house. Since I knew that I could not go back to nursing and I still wanted to help people, I went to school for social work. The first year was good and I was comfortable with the other students and campus. Then I was accepted to graduate school.

I did not even last three weeks. In the classroom, I received A’s on my papers and was successful with projects. Field placement was another story. I had to interact with others. I knew that it would be a challenge and attempted to keep my head down. I was at my placement for a total of three days when I was told that I was no longer welcome. My mental health diagnoses were a problem and the supervisor did not think that I was stable enough to work with the clients. There went another dream and another potential career.

At this point, I stay in the house and only leave to go to therapy or to pick up medications. I do not even like to answer the door or open the door for delivery people. In some ways I have isolated myself, yet every time I have tried to put myself out there it has not worked out. It is like people know that I am different and stay away.

Invisible Illness

There are those illnesses that people can easily see. A person with a cold, a broken or sprained limb, a rash, etc… Then there are those illnesses which are invisible, yet just as debilitating and at times life threatening.

No one can see fibromyalgia or benign tumors that could be causing pain. The person walks around in pain or forgets because of an episode of fibrofog. Yet, even those hidden pains are at least medical issues. Invisible, painful and impacting a persons daily life. There are many other invisible illnesses that I have not mentioned.

Then there is mental illness. It is invisible, it lives inside the body eating away the body and its functions due the medications needed to maintain “normal”. Silence falls over and darkness sets in. The person attempts to hide their illness due to the social stigma. Rarely do people want to know how they are truly doing. It is thought that the person is unstable and even dangerous. It is the invisible illness that if it becomes known could drive away friends, family, or even cause the loss of a job. The scariest part of mental illness is that even though treatments are available, insurance sometimes does not cover them and the three visits a year that they may cover in some cases are not enough.

I believe that the invisible illnesses are the worst. Whether it is not being believed or the unknown, others seem more afraid of these. Maybe we need to share a little compassion with people. A person who seems to be moving slowly or cannot remember what was said to them the day before. Patience and empathy are difficult.

Through the Years

When I was first admitted to a psychiatric unit, I thought that I did not fit in and did not belong there. Boy was I wrong. Not only did I seem to fit, I could relate to their symptoms and stories.

I heard other patients talking about losing their children, divorces, friends abandoning them, and losing other things in their life. How nieve I was. I thought that would not happen to me.

Life happened. All of the above came true. Then I tried to get myself together. That was a mistake. I realized that I don’t fit in with “normal” people so well. Others can look me up and find out that I lost my kids and that I am sick. They do not want me as a part of their world.

Then I worked with my doctor on getting a degree that I could use. Funny, I thought that other social workers would accept a fellow student with a mental illness. Instead I was alienated and told that I was to ill to complete the program and be an effective social worker.

In order to go to school I had to take out loans. Now, I cannot complete my degree and am having issues paying back the loan. “Permanent Disability”. That is what I apparently am considered at this point. Someone who does not have the ability to get a job and will not be able to for the foreseeable future.

Maybe it is true. I am scared to leave the house and interact with others. I have to take medication just to not feel suicidal all day. I spend many hours going back and forth to doctors and therapy.

Is this really my life? Medications, therapy, doctors. Add to that the physical problems I am now having. Karma is against me.

Where Do You Want to Go?

The above question was asked by my therapist. I loved nursing school and caring for others, yet my body would not let me finish. When I am out and hear someone speak negatively about someone who may be struggling I get upset and often say something.

I would like to work with addicts. People with addiction, often have trauma backgrounds and often need more than one round of treatment to recover. Recovery can be a life long struggle and can follow them so that they have problems with custody or employment.

I understand that. Having a mental illness has given me a different perspective. I have been in the hospital many times. Every time for a different reason. I have had to fight for my children because of my diagnosis. I have scars that I cannot erase and show even when it is not the best time. I have been asked to leave a graduate program because of my illness. I know about stereotypes and can empathize.

So, now I have to complete my research and see what I need to do to complete training and get a license to practice. This is what I wanted to do prior to moving. So, how do I get well enough to leave the house and move forward? That would be the new question.

Where to Turn?? *May Trigger**

Trauma. Suicidal thoughts. Self Harm. All three at once or separately they each suck.

I feel as if my doctors have thrown in the towel on me. I asked to go inpatient and was told no. I should know by now how to keep myself safe. I do not understand. If I am not safe and have been acting on impulses where do I turn? Where do I go too? I was told to go to the ER. I have done that in the past and once in the hospital, found that even the doctors did not know how to treat me.

I was given the name of my doctor who works on this specialized unit in order to be able to go back if I needed help. It has been three years since I was on the unit and am so disappointed in the way I have been treated.

I feel like I have cart blanch to act on my impulses. Nothing is going to be done if I do. I have many labels now. I wish that the doctors could see that I am a person not a label. That I am trying to work and use the techniques that I have learned over the years.

Right now I am lost. I hear my doctors saying they care, yet not doing anything. I was told yesterday that I am an adult and have every right to hurt myself! Who do I get to help me when the attitude is that I should just know better??

The Good and the Bad of Having a Mental Illness

There are many negative aspects of having a mental illness, yet I believe there are good ones as well. First, the bad. People stare at the scars left by self injury. Others feel as if you are incompetent because you have a mental illness. Others around you do not believe what happened to you even though you know the truth. Medicine is trial and error often with more errors than successes. You get labeled and people can become afraid of you even though you are the same person as the day before you found out about your illness. Going into the hospital and following all of the procedures is hard.

So what is so good about having a mental illness. I have learned to slow down and try to take each moment as it comes in order to stay alive. I have met amazing and talented people in the hospital who can be whatever they want to be. I have met others who have come out of this barren tunnel better and more assured of themselves. I no longer judge people. I never know what someone is going through. Most of all I have lived with it and know what is coming. I would love to be able to mentor someone who has just been diagnosed and may or may not be at rock bottom.

Having a mental illness has changed my life. It dies not define me, yet it is a part of who I am and my experiences. I know that I cannot go back, yet it is hard to move forward. I realized last night that I am finally at a place where I do not care if others believe me. I know what happened to me and I need to work through it all.

I Think I Scared the Resident

I went to the new doctor yesterday. I think that she thought it would be an easy appointment. It was anything but easy. She saw all of the evidence of my self harm and of course the typical questions followed. I told her the truth and said that I have had a plan since I was around 10 years old.

Why aren’t doctors taught about patients who have experienced trauma? Instead they are put into situations where they are overwhelmed by the patient. Not only do I have a list of diagnoses, i also have a lot of medical issues. The doctor did not seem to know where to start.

Tests were ordered and I have to return in a couple of months. I am glad the doctor is being careful, yet I am scared that the doctor is in over her head. Maybe she will turn out to be one of the best doctors that I have had, if not at least she will gain some experience.

On another front, therapy is not going well. My parts do not feel heard or even like they have a place in therapy. We have had one doctor who could handle us and she is gone. At least she acknowledged that multiple parts could experience an event completely differently. Right now we feel unheard. We feel like the therapist is trying to sweep us away instead of making us part of the therapy. We are hopeless that things will change at this point and are considering options where we may have a chance to participate.

Right now, we are lost. We do not belong anywhere except for hidden on the inside. We have had to many years of that to keep doing it, it does not work and eventually leads to self harm as a way of expressing that those parts are there. We are hoping that something gets resolved soon.