PTSD – Is it real?

It was terrifyingly real to me. I’m sharing parts of my wrestle with PTSD.  PTSD offers us growth and empowerment.  What? That’s right. Resilience is not just surviving but thriving.

I’m driving home feeling that something isn’t right. After all, I’ve spent the last 18 months worried that my daughter would complete suicide. Why wouldn’t I be on edge all the time?  I tucked that fear away as much as possible by doing all I could to help her.  In reality, it was like helping a porcupine.

Her pain was so great that she wanted help but often pricked those that tried.  

I pull into the garage.  Hannah’s car is in the garage.  I’m glad to see it.  She copes by running, by being busy all the time. She’s rarely home.  I’m happy to have some time with her.  I know she’s planning on going to see her grandma for the weekend – an event she’s looked forward to all of her life. 

As I walk in the door, the air feels heavy.  I don’t really know why but I chalk it up to the depression that permeates our home.  I call out to Hannah from upstairs.  No answer.  I walk down the stairs towards her room.  I hear her music blaring.  It’s the most awful dark music I’ve heard her play. I enter the room and pull her phone off the speaker.  “Hannah?” I call out in nervous anticipation.  No answer.  From inside her room, I call her dad, “Bruce, where’s Hannah?  Her car is here.  Her PHONE is here.  I don’t know where she’s at.”  He has no answers.  I leave the room and walk into every room of the house looking for Hannah’s dead body.  I can feel it.  I deny it.  I do my best to stop the ‘negative’ thoughts.  Hanna’s nowhere, I walk into every room of the house. I don’t leave one closet unchecked. I head outside to water the horses.  Where could she be?  I walk down to our back pasture. 4 acres seems like 100.  I walk the entire pasture looking up into every tree expecting to see her hanging.  My dread is expanding. My thoughts are filled with panic.  I try and calm myself.  She could simply be with her friends for a minute.  I head back up to the house to see if there’s some sign that she’s come back. 

I’m hungry.  I make a protein drink.  I head back downstairs.  I go back into her room.  I stand in the middle of her room just like I did before hoping for some clue.  I turn around and there she is in her closet.  

I don’t want to share the rest of the story now.  I’m slightly traumatized by sharing this much.  I will share it all sometime in the future.  Today, I wanted to share what PTSD looks like for me. Fortunately, I’ve used some new tools that have helped me overcome.

PTSD is reliving yesterday’s horror now.

Can you see where my PTSD triggers might be?  Driving home, pulling into the garage when no one else is home, walking downstairs, belts, Hannah’s bedroom, and not being able to reach my family in person or by phone. I’m probably forgetting some of them. Good.

One night after her death, I pulled up to the garage when no one was home.  It was dark.  I sat paralyzed.  I couldn’t pull in. I sat there bewiledered. “This is so unreasonable”, I thought to myself. Yet, I couldn’t move. I called Bruce and begged him to come home.  He was at least 40 minutes away.  I sat there frozen in a time that had already passed. I didn’t leave the car until he arrived home.  After that experience, I realized the difficult challenges I was facing.  

Walking downstairs was terrifying.  When my son was living at home, I anticipated finding him dead.  I anticipated finding my husband dead too. Reasonable? Is suicide reasonable? Yet, it happened.   

Belts. They say don’t mention means of death. I guess I’m mentioning means of death. I won’t go into detail. PTSD?  I walked into a store because I needed a belt. I was so angry at the belt rack, so terrified to touch any of them that I left the store in a sweat.  What did that store or those belts ever do to me? PTSD. It’s certainly not logical.

Going down to Hannah’s room. If you were with me here right now, you would have watched me express a heavy sigh. Being in her room was death. The very air was death.  

Okay, I’m going to wrap this up. It’s becoming too sad for me. Sad is healthy. PTSD is not healthy.  PTSD traps you in sorrow, fear, and rules your existence. It drags you from reality, holds you down, and tries to suffocate you.

I’ve overcome 98% of my PTSD. I’ve confronted it.  Looked it straight in the eyes and we’ve talked.  I question all my thoughts that cause pain.  I refuse to wallow.  However, that doesn’t mean I don’t allow myself space to hurt because I do.  I just question and investigate the thoughts that accompany that sad, hurt, angry feelings.  PTSD is like living in a waking nightmare.  I do my best to wake up.  I pray and pray.  Others have prayed for me.  Praying so incredibly powerful and tangible.  I write.  I share.  At first, I couldn’t share in person very well so I wrote on Facebook.  Those nondirect conversations were and are vital to my emotional health however I’ve learned to make a phone call too. I take a product called Q96 along with other supplements with great results. I’ve questioned my eating habits. I’ve used neurofeedback. Expensive? Yes but worth every penny.  Bottom line, I’ve done everything I can find, that feels right, to heal. I’ve fought for my sanity. I’m anxiously engaged in the good work of my spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health.   

PTSD has changed from uncontrolled bouts of fear to brief moments of memories that hurt to my core, bring tears, or leave me wanting to be alone for a while.  I don’t think it’s right to call it PTSD anymore.  I’m just a mom who lost her only daughter to post-concussive syndrome.  When you lose someone you love, it’s going to hurt but PTSD is optional.  

I’m going to share a story that is not mine but will drive home the point that PTSD is optional.  I’m seeing a hypnotherapist, his contact info is here.  His name is Steve.  He shared a story with me of a client with extreme PTSD. Privacy was absolutely protected.  Without going into too much detail, this young lady was kidnapped, duct taped, and put in a trunk.  One of the side effects, her own private PTSD hell, was that every time she heard duct tape being ripped off the roll, she went into a blind rage often leaving those close to her with black eyes and other painful results.  She was in and out of mental hospitals, drugged, and participated in lots of talk therapy.  Nothing resolved her painful and often dangerous condition.  Then she met Steve. In two sessions, she was unreactive to the duct tape.  You’ll have to ask him about what he does.  For me, he’s helping to un-hypnotize my life-long struggles with food.  It’s working.  The point is that our subconscious is powerful and impressionable but it’s OURS to do with what we need.  

Finally, I can’t help but think about our valuable first responders and military.  I have enormous respect for them and those that serve them.  What they’ve experienced is beyond my comprehension.

What’s the definition of insanity?  PTSD?  No.  It’s doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If what you’re doing isn’t getting you the results you want, LOOK IN ANOTHER DIRECTION!  This site is full of ‘other directions‘.  That one link is just one area.  Explore, test them.  Please.  And when you find a path or healing, please, please share your story!  Kids need to know what resilience looks like!  Resilience stories give hope and direction.

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