*Trigger, child loss content included in regards to my personal experience with PTSD.

I am no expert on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), nor am I one of the brave men or women who fought for our country and came home with PTSD. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, and with my story being almost 11 years in the making, I found myself wanting to clarify and point out a few things about PTSD and let those suffering know they are not alone.

Every PTSD Case Is Different

My story is no doubt different from everyone else who suffers, just like their story is personal to them.

Please don’t use this as a guideline or a way to judge nor “cure” someone else. The article you are about to read is more of an outreached hand to help you know you are not alone, no matter what side of the mirror you stand on.

If you have suggestions, questions, or would like to share your story, please feel free to share in the comment section or contact me if you want to create your own post. You will never be censored here, even if you simply say I am full of shit.

An Introduction To PTSD

As most of my generation has seen, if they are paying attention, the effects of PTSD can come from lots of different situations. Many as a result of tragedy or warfare. The 9/11 aftermath on mental health took time to become known, but thankfully, more people are being taken seriously and seeking help.

In a conflicting way, it is hard to be grateful for such transparency into something that you wish never existed in the first place. Still, it opened our eyes to a more in-depth look at what the brave men and women who survived such tragedy were dealing with and brought attention to a mental illness that was far more than skin deep.

Looking In

From the outside, it is hard to describe what PTSD feels like. Unless you have witnessed the full effect first-hand, it seems like it is just recalling vivid memories.  As a naive person at one point in life, I thought this was the case. Almost everyone can remember where they were standing when they heard the news of 9/11. (don’t worry, this isn’t all about that, it’s just an example many of us can relate to), little did I know, there was much more than just a memory.

Personal Perception of PTSD, Looking Inward

My perception of PTSD looking inward may not be the same as others, but it is what I have to go on.

To me, PTSD was memories that raised your blood pressure. It was vivid dreams in the middle of the night that woke you covered in sweat. Many of us can remember where we were standing when we received news that changed our lives. I can recall everything about what the RV looked like in grave detail that I was standing in when we got the call; my father had passed away, I was only 13 at the time.

The idea of PTSD was simply a memory that still brought on emotion as far as I knew. It was hearing something loud, like fireworks, and attributing that to anxiety in a traumatic situation. I still held great respect for anyone with PTSD and anyone suffering from something I knew nothing about, but that was my general understanding.

When That All Changed

In July of 2011, in a hospital room. Not many were affected by my tragedy. There are no great memorials set up in his honor, nor was I doing something noble like serving my country.

The loss of my son only changed the life of a handful of people that day, but it is my source of PTSD. I hope that no one feels the need to pass judgment, but I share anyway because I honor him by sharing my story, comforting those I can, and bringing light to those who live in the darkness.

Looking Out

From this side of the mirror, those feelings are hard to explain. For people with PTSD who were in fear of their life, who witnessed some of the worst horrors caused by man, and who still see those pictures when they close their eyes, my story probably seems kind.

When I was diagnosed with PTSD, 7 years after my loss, I doubted that diagnosis. It was hard for me to believe that anyone healed from such a tragedy, so my first time explaining the feelings I still held to a professional, I didn’t know it was anything more than grief.

PTSD doesn’t consider your healing, strength, and the fact you power through every day despite it. A PTSD diagnosis is no more the fault of the one suffering, as cancer is the fault of the sick.

The difference lies in what I thought to be the effects and what really are. It is not having a good memory. PTSD is not just grief rearing an ugly head and getting upset all over again.

Trying To Explain

creposucre / Pixabay

First of all, it is a hard thing to explain. It’s bad memories, bad dreams, and feeling like you have healed while you cut open the wounds. It’s time travel in its worst form. You don’t control it, you have no say, but sometimes no matter how many years have passed, you end up right back at that moment.

You don’t just remember the incident; clearly, it’s not like a movie you have watched thousand times over. For me, it’s hearing something or seeing something that reminds me of him, and suddenly I am right back in the hospital room watching him leave all over again.

My Experience With PTSD

The smells, the voices, the feelings… it’s all there, but you do not remember it; you relive it. Almost 11 years later, and at times I still find myself frozen.

Like the movie Inception, your world is there, and it’s in front of your face. Then, the world starts to collapse, and under it is that moment, every… single… time. No one sees it. Sometimes you don’t even have a trigger. Sometimes a thought crosses your mind, and you get sucked back into that place.

It’s Not a Question of Healing

No, I don’t believe you ever fully heal from something like that. Looking outward, I attributed my struggle to that. The difference is at times; I can talk about him freely. I will smile, remembering him kick in my stomach to certain songs. I watch my boys play and wish so much their older brother was there playing too. I say his name with pride, not many knew he was even here, yet they know his story.

As far as healing goes, I have come a long way. PTSD doesn’t care at all. Yes, attacks get less frequent, and I have learned that fighting it makes it worse. The only condolence is, you can learn to cope with PTSD, kind of.

For me, it plays from the same spot, over and over. The moment he was laid on my chest for just a moment then swooped away, to the point the doctor request I permit them to stop working on him because there is nothing that they can do, but they don’t have the heart to stop without my acceptance.

darksouls1 / Pixabay

45 minutes, almost on the dot. Sometimes reliving it is faster, and sometimes I stall when I see his little body laying there.

From this side of the mirror, it’s the worst kind of torture you can imagine.

Surviving PTSD

I wish I had a cure for you, and I wish more than anything I had a special button you could push to bring you back from those moments. A way to help your loved one who suffers, but all I can say is, don’t diminish it. If you see warning signs, try to distract them. If you can come up with a signal between you and your loved one, do it.

In all honesty, I usually break down. I don’t have the words most of the time, and even if I do, I don’t want to drag anyone back there with me. When my husband asks what’s wrong, I generally say “I don’t know” or “just a bad day,” then he holds me till I can breathe again.

There is no system in place, my mind hits the panic button, and I am back in that room.

Few things can help, though; try to recognize and avoid your triggers, on high anxiety days try to avoid stress, and most importantly, don’t be hard on yourself. You are not broken; there is nothing wrong with who you are; you suffer from something much more than skin deep.

Final Thoughts

No, this post probably was not nearly as helpful as you wished it would be. I, unfortunately, have no cure.

I hope this brought light to a situation close to you. Whether it’s you that is suffering and it let you know you’re not alone, your loved one suffers, and you wanted to understand, or if you just wanted some insight, I hope I helped.

Seeking Help

The darkness can be consuming, and when you are forced to relive your worst fear, it can destroy you quickly. If you need help, reach out. If you are not ready to see a professional, talk to someone, ANYONE, they may not fully understand, but sometimes just letting it out helps. It’s lonely, and at times the thought of speaking about it renders you silent, but there are options.

I can’t offer a cure, but I can provide support, a place to share your story, and a candle in the darkness. It feels like it sometimes, but you are never alone.

If you need assistance, here are some other resources that can help as well; they take emergency calls or messages and can also help you find help in your area.

Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, Text 838255, or Chat online.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text Hello to 741741 in the US or UK (686868 in Canada). You can also message them on Facebook at  Crisis Text Line.

If you would like to learn more about my angel baby and my story, feel free to read Why Your God and I are Not On Speaking Terms. 

1 Comment

Arti · October 2, 2021 at 12:19 am

It’s very brave of you to face all these memories and thoughts. And i am sure this would really help those who are still struggling. Thanks for sharing.

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