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Posts tagged ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’

Round & Round – PTSD

Over the last month I’ve noticed the flashbacks coming more often. There’s nothing that provokes them that I can decide. With the increased frequency, each scene becomes more vivid & even if there are variances in them, it’s always his last few hours alive that play in my head.

There are so many emotions in those last hours…mine…his…the kids. Thoughts about what he said to each child, reactions to his words to them. “You’re making too much noise. Daddy loves you. Go to your room & be really quiet.” Why?

Why won’t it stop? It’s driving me mad 😦 Each flashback brings sadness, worry, pain, tears, anxiety & anger.

Why? It’s been 3 years & 9 months since it happened! Why do I remember it more vividly than giving birth to our children? Why?

I have no answers. All why’s? are rhetorical. No one can answer.

I hate PTSD. I hate these flashbacks. I hate not remembering good things & just his death.

I’m struggling again 😦 I think I need to go see the doctor. I haven’t talked to him about PTSD since January of 2012. I should be better…I should be over the traumatic event.

Those last few hours…I hear his voice more now. I can see him in my mind clearly. He wants my daddy to baptize him. He waited until the end & now he wants to be baptized. His arm hurts, so he keeps raising it above his head to stretch it out.

He cried. It’s the first time in 14 years I’ve seen him cry & it’s breathtakingly pitiful. He didn’t want his mother to leave. He’s tired & lays down to rest. Unaware of his bodily state, he urinated in the bed. He asks me to help him move to the couch, but doesn’t tell me he wet the bed. He was 50. That would have embarrassed him. He’s so very tired. He says he’s going to nap & I go answer the phone. He didn’t want me to.

“Let the damn phone ring”, he says. I explain that I must. It’s his daughters. They’ve called for over an hour. They’re worried. I need to give them an update. “Take the battery out of it Chrissy”, he pleads. But, I couldn’t resist. I just had to answer that phone. Stupid me!! After a few minutes on the phone I hear him…he’s gurgling 😦

Couldn’t breathe. The mass over his lungs burst. He was drowning in his own blood. Throw phone. Scream!!! Call 911. Idiot answers. The rest I’ve already written about before, so why rehash it?

Why remember it? Why can’t my mind rewrite the memory? I pray & God gives me peace. Jesus usually sends angles to rock me to sleep, but not tonight. I’m tormented.

I try to focus on how far God has brought us – the kids & I. We are blessed beyond measure, so why is this happening again? Why can’t I just hit ctrl-alt-delete & end task?
Why can’t I reboot? It’s stuck there…playing out in my head…over & over.

I’ve remarried. 3 years & 2 months after he died, I remarried. The kids are happy & thriving. I’m happy 98% of the time & then out of nowhere, BAM! It starts again.
Why?  I’m happy now, I remind myself. I’m safe. I’m secure. I’m loved. We’re all healthy.

I thought there were suppose to be triggers…identifiable triggers so I could avoid them. I don’t see a provocative pattern except night fall, bed time, alone with my thoughts while my new husband snores away.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is torture. Maybe it’s provoked by an underlying subconscious thought pattern I’m oblivious to. Maybe I’m one of the unlucky ones.

Maybe I’m all alone with this disorder. Maybe there’s just too many maybes 😦

I’ve prayed for so many of you, whether we’ve met or not. Please keep our family in your prayers as I fight through this struggle. Please 🙂 & ask the Lord to protect the children’s minds from such torment too. Theirs is a different scenario, but traumatic as well. They watched me attempt to save his life in front of them. They saw their daddy’s blood on my face as I blew into his chest in vain.

Oh Jesus, please take this from us 😦

PTSD is an evil monster of the mind!

Funny How Things Just Hit You

As I sat drinking my beloved coffee this morning, I rummaged through a year’s worth of pictures so the before/after photographs could be posted of the house.  I am downright excited to publish a post of gratitude and rightfully thank everyone that has blessed our family over the last year.

As I was reviewing the first 1,000 photos or so, I was flat-out excited! Creating a folder to move the photos into and ensuring they were in the right order was not bothersome at this point. After an hour had passed, I had successfully completed my first pot of coffee.  I was amazed that I took so many pictures & had parsed through several thousand at this point. Going into my third hour, I was mentally exhausted. I was becoming frustrated at myself for taking so many pictures of everything under the sun. I questioned myself even, “why did I snap that?” “Did I think that was funny, cool, or that I’d never see it again?” “What is that?” I caught myself being upset with myself for clogging up my computer with pictures of random stuff when it hit me.

It is defined by: Wow, I’ve had a great year! I’m not including the boys or their feelings in this either. They may see the last year in a different way. Since they have become strange creatures others call teenagers, I can no longer speak for their feelings really. Would you allow me, gentle reader, to share this with you?

Please do not think me boasting or giving gratitude to anyone other than God! I have honestly had a great year of healing without even noticing I was. I mean, I’ve noticed sort of, but I took each day and placed it in its own little boxed adventure and hadn’t lined all the boxes up together to see the whole picture.

Over the last year: I went from thinking I was moving on with my life and realizing I hadn’t moved an inch

– to mourning the loss of my husband again

– to recovering from a nasty concussion (PCS)

– to beginning the heart wrenching work on the house

– to moving away from home

– to leaving state several times and seeing new places

– to meeting new people

– to realizing I had fallen in love again

– to watching the boys grow closer to each other and healing (PTSD & grief)

– to taking our first ever family vacation

– to learning a new trade (kind of)

– to definitely learning new skills

– to learning to open up and share myself with someone again

– to renewing my faith

– to really learning forgiveness (PTSD)

– to letting go of the anger (PTSD & grief)

– to helping a few friends along the way

– to meeting some cool people in other countries (you know who you are…Paul)

– to being a Mom again instead of working too many hours each week

– to bringing another child into our family

– to finally agreeing to “let it go” and just be.

And I documented all of this through my pictures. There are thousands of magical pictures with time stamps and GPS locations to remind me just how far I have come and how unquestionably blessed I have been and still am.

I am happy that I was side tracked while trying to locate all the photos of the house for you. I apologize that you must continue to wait too, cause I’m only good for one post per day per blog.

🙂 May God bless you

Give me some feedback :)

Brother’s Love (a PTSD check-in)

A brother’s love is a strong, sensitive, and unfailing.

While we were on vacation earlier this week, I saw so much evidence of my boys’ healing.  I noticed some changes in their interactions with one another over the last few weeks as we took in a new family addition. It is nice to see them bonding once more instead of being arch enemies with each other 🙂
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On vacation, we went to a small non-commercialized island where we had the beach practically to ourselves. This of course meant we also had the ocean to ourselves for the most part as well. Before the trip, both boys had concerns about safety. Neither could swim and were worried that I may not be able to save them.  They worried about the heat, the sand, the frogs,…practically everything. I think they were afraid of a new experience, but knew I was not going to leave them home – they were going to see the ocean, like it or not!
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On day 1 we drove all day and each of us crashed on our prospective beds at the hotel late at night.

On day 2 we drove the short distance to the beach and they faced their fears. Nick coaxed them out into the water as he laid down a few ocean rules. He showed them how to get past the breaks, not to worry about the sand, what brushed against their feet, and showed them the tranquility of body surfing the gentle waves. I was truly amazed. They did it – with no reservations. They went straight into the water, conquered that fear. Later that day, I watched my oldest son write in the sand to his daddy. I guess he was showing dad that he hadn’t forgotten him. Then, he wrote to his girlfriend (his name and hers in a heart) multiple times! It was sweet. I had a few minor concerns about their PTSD flaring up on this trip and wondered if they would reach out to my deceased husband. My concerns were confirmed, but not anything to worry about yet. image

On day 3 they experienced the beach again, this time with stronger waves. We drove about an hour and 45 minutes to Ocean City Maryland. We went to the beach and the boys were awarded the opportunity to witness commercialization. They experienced mass traffic, city culture, saw what they thought were hot bodies (very little bathing suits and a lot of skin), odd people, live musicians, men and women flirting among the masses, and much more turbulent waters of the ocean.  We spent about three hours on the beach and in the ocean before we toured the boardwalk. The waves were crashing into the beach, the wind was stronger and people were elbow to elbow. The boys approached the water apprehensively. Nick went with them, but warned them about the undertow currents and told them how to make it back to shore if sucked out to sea. image

I could see the fear written on their faces and I knew that I would run out there and save them if I could. They feared losing each other as much as they had feared losing their daddy. They feared losing me and were relieved that I stayed on the shore line this day. I stayed with the towels and our belongings. The honesty factor flew out the window when we left our favorite island on Chincoteague. This was wild, crazy, and chaotic. image

I didn’t interfere as they bonded together, encouraged each other “they could do it” and reassured each other that they’d be okay. I can’t express how hard it was as a mother to watch and not jump in there and erase all of their fears.image

They went into the ocean. Holding hands. Forming a chain of protection as they had vowed to save each other if the need arose. They stayed close to Nick in the water for comfort. Before long, my oldest was waaaaay out in the ocean on his boogie board. He was a natural. He took to the waves like a dolphin. My youngest was not far out though as he stood aside and watched his big brother adventure out into the deep. image

They had learned to swim and hadn’t realized it!! They had conquered a fear and were not aware. They were out there swimming with fish, crabs, jelly fish, sting rays, sand sharks, and lord only knows what else 🙂 image

From the side lines, I watched. From the side lines I was proud of them and couldn’t tell them. They’ve told me that they are fine if I just help them and not actually say “PTSD” or “Are you okay”. My Momdar (mom radar) is supposed to go off at just the right time in their minds to save them from their own thoughts. image

On day 4  we were back on Chincoteague Island and we went to the beach at Assateague Island. They were beginning to wear thin, tire down – like a tire going flat.  The hot sun, wind, and ocean water was beginning to take a toll of them. Irritable and grumpy, we promised them a break on day 5.  I saw more sand writing on day 4 to their daddy and they brought him up a time or two in conversation. No one cried, no one withdrew. They were healing nicely. image

On day 5  Nick rented a bike for my youngest son and Josh to ride around town. My youngest conquered another fear. He learned how to ride a bike! He rode that bike all over the town while Nick and I went to the beach. He conquered a fear of independence and being alone also. He was rather happy with himself that he rode as long and as far as he did on the Island. By car, the entire island can be crossed in less than 10 mins if you obey the speed limit of 25mph. It was very small. My oldest also conquered a fear of being alone in a new place. He didn’t tell me he was afraid with words, I read it on his face. He talked to his girlfriend all day (I’m guessing) as he walked around the island.  Both boys are still healing and growing on day 5 🙂
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On day 6 the boys didn’t want to go to the beach, they wanted bikes again. Nick rented bikes for them and they rode all day through the town. It was day 2 of a new-found freedom and they loved it! On this day all three boys had an argument blow out and they resolved it mostly on their own. Nick and I only had to intervene slightly. They were growing, bonding, learning each other and developing a new brotherly love (whether they realized it or not). image

On day 7 we went back to the beach one last time for shell collecting. They had all formed a new bond and were unaware of it. Each of them I saw talk to each other, interact with each other, and show concern in a new way. image

This vacation was a healing experience for them. Therapy could not have provided what this trip did.

Praise you Jesus for your Love, Grace, Peace, and Healing!!  🙂

More Family Pictures by KD Photography

More Family Pictures by KD Photography

I am so tickle that Kristi has captured my little family for a year.  Here are some more great pictures that she captured for us at the park 🙂

My  boysNicky & Coley

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Yet another evil of PTSD

Another evil of PTSD is depression. It’s not always present and can be controlled for some by medication.

I hate depression. It rips life from a person and steals tears from its miss-perceived victims. Depression can take a beautiful day and make it cloudy, gloomy, and undesirable. It has much company when it takes root in one’s soul; for it invites anger, sadness, and self loathing with it. These rascally fiends take over and throw a misery party showcasing every wrong move, thought, word spoken, or deed done in the past. Their heart wrenching film plays over and over until the unassuming audience has become completely trapped by its clutches.

Depression is a beastly evil of PTSD.

Depression is one of the most commonly occurring disorders in PTSD. In fact, it has been found that among people who have or have had a diagnosis of PTSD, approximately 48% also had current or past depression. People who have had PTSD at some point in their life are almost 7 times as likely as people without PTSD to also have depression. Another study found that 44.5% of people with PTSD one month after experiencing a traumatic event also had a diagnosis of depression.

For more information on how PTSD and depression could be linked click here.

For another view on depression click here.Click Me, Click Me!

So, the question is, how does someone with depression associated with PTSD cope? PRAYER! A lot of Prayer!!

On this roller coaster ride we call life, there are always rainbows after every storm. We have to choose to see the rainbow instead of the destruction that the storm left in its wake. It’s also a lot easier to write about it than to put it into practice, by the way 😉

I need a game plan. I need to figure out why I stop wanting to take part in life. The Lord and I are the only two that can work together on this giant feat and obtain any lasting success. Medication will only place a bandage over the wound that depression leaves. The longer I let it wound me, the deeper and larger that wound will be. I can’t let that wound turn into a scar or I will have given up and become lost in the misery party that depression wants to host.

Here I go! Wish me luck!! 🙂 I’m ready to tackle the evil beastly depression monster brought along with the sinister PTSD villan!!

Wet Wet Wet

There once was a lovely song by the music group Wet Wet Wet that I loved to sing, titled LOVE IS ALL AROUND.

Who would have ever thought a song by a water-logged band would have meaning in my life? Ha!

?

I haven’t written much lately because I have been preoccupied with our house. In the past, I have written about the damages our house had endured over the last 2 years. We have had more rainfall recently than I can personally remember during the 17 years I have lived in our home. In January of 2009, record rain fall hit Knoxville, TN and the ground began to saturate. Midway through 2009, it was pretty soggy here in the eastern TN area.  {Enter the Soggy Bottom Boys}.

By 2010, the ground had swelled so much with precipitation that there was nowhere for this water to absorb any longer. County and state built run-offs began to flood and streams, lakes, ponds, and of course – my land began to over flow. In fact, Norris Lake (which is closest to my home) was so full (12 ft over flood level), the dam was overflowing and TVA had to release the dammed water off their schedule cycle. This inadvertently flooded much land that normally was not under water in the eastern Tennessee valley. As we begin 2012, the precipitation continues. Each forecast from the weather man with precipitation throws me into a state of dread now that my home has become a swamp.

Our home has become a wet land, and it is time for a re-evaluation of life once more. There have been 5 contractors look at the house and dust their feet of our situation. They wouldn’t touch it. 2 huge men said they were afraid to get under the house for fear it may fall on them. All 5 companies walked away saying that I should just “level the place” and build all over again or buy a mobile home and place it on my new-found wet land. Tears have flown from my eyes until they were sore and swollen. But, I am not defeated!

Rain Rain, go away

2 1/2 hours after the rain stopped

No. We are not defeated! My risen savior is Alive! We are protected and loved.

  • Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  • Luke 1:37  “For nothing is impossible with God.”

Don’t take me wrong, I have been very upset during the last year and half while trying to save my home from ruin. I have sworn, said foul things, hibernate and tried to hide from the world,  threw my hands up in the air, and screamed in frustration!!  Then, the Lord brought some very important scriptures before me. It was like he allowed me to have my humanistic temper tantrum, then he sent me comfort. It poured in taking the form of many people and objects for a little while, then he stopped me all together and taught me several lessons.

  • Proverbs 10:19  “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

This one hit me like a tons of bricks. Immediately I felt guilty for the things I had said in selfish anger about our lives and our home. Once something is said though, it cannot be taken back. Once a wound has been inflicted, it leaves a visible scar as a reminder so we do not repeat the same injury. My words during my rants are my scars now. I have and will continue to learn from them.

  • Proverbs 27:1  “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
  • Matthew 6:34   “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
  • James 4:13-14   “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

I was trying to be the conductor, the Supervisor, the CEO of my life and I thought I could fix it all.

         For those of you who know me well, you know this is not like me at all!  Previously, I had always lived my life 100% by faith and I knew I had no control over my life. I knew that God was in control and I would have never thought about trying to fill his shoes. So, what happened? When did I pick up all of my burdens and begin carrying them again? The answer to this one bites…When Nick died.

 I was in denial. During the grieving process there are many stages. Doctors, counselors, and psychiatrist will tell you about all the stages they believe you will go through as a survivor, but there is one stage that they omit. Selfishness. They will tell you that you will experience:

SHOCK & DENIAL

PAIN & GUILT

ANGER & BARGAINING

DEPRESSION, REFLECTION, LONELINESS

THE UPWARD TURN

RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH

and finally – ACCEPTANCE & HOPE

What they will not tell you is that somewhere mixed in the 7 stages of grief, you will become self-absorbed. So many people will tell you to “take time for yourself” cause “you deserve it”. You were a great person (just because you are sad and you could burst into uncomfortable tears at any moment) so “do something nice for yourself”. Afterall, you were “so strong” and you are a “survivor”.  People mean well when they say these things. As a widow, a surviving child, or a surviving parent – be careful that you do not follow in my path. I heard it over and over. I began to agree with it, even though it was wrong! I fell into the “let’s just make her feel better for now” trap. I let it go to my head. I became self-absorbed and I forgot from whence my help comes from.

I didn’t go out, hit up every bar in town, go clubbing often, change my hair and make-up, buy a whole new wardrobe, or become promiscuous. But, what I did led to a path of self-destruction just the same. Go through this post. Count how many times I have written I, Me, My, or Mine. The good thing is that I have finally been rebuked enough to learn from it 🙂 I cannot do anything on my own. I am nothing without God. I can do nothing without him. I, nor my family, can prosper without giving him 100% of the glory and praise.

  • Proverbs 27:17  “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

The Lord revealed that he would send different people to us, one by one, to bless us.  I had to be obedient and accept the blessings to allow the person He sent to be blessed in return.

  • Proverbs 27:18   “The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.”

God, my master, deserves all the honor and glory for every aspect of our existence.

  • Proverbs 27:19   “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.
  • Proverbs 27:20   “Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.”

So, with these lessons learned in the swamp, from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. I am thankful today for the swamp. It’s not mine. It belongs to the Lord. Why was I worried that I would lose it? It’s not mine to lose. I am just a steward over it for a little while and after I am gone…someone else will be a steward over the swamp 🙂 I sincerely hope that the next person is not as stubborn as I was. I hope they are prosperous and lean-to the Lord for all their understanding so they are blessed beyond belief in that wet land 🙂

I am so tired now.

I am tired of saying “I“.

PTSD on Halloween Night

PTSD on Halloween Night

I am happy to proclaim that Halloween night was not as bad as I had anticipated. 🙂

My oldest son was perturbed that his sisters were not going to be able to make the long drive to our home & bring his neice & nephews to trick or treat with us this year. He ranted, raved, and released some anger verbally.
My youngest was ready for some candy loot collecting activities though.

Costumes were simple and inexpensive (as usual). I always allow the boys to choose what to be, then I create the costume. My oldest son chose to be death. He wore a black robe, carried a sickle, and wore a black skeletal mask. I was a bit concerned about PTSD on Halloween Night because of this. 
My youngest son was a Star Wars Jedi. He used his Monk costume robe and carried a lightsaber.

These boys are certainly not “little”.  After all, they are 13 & 15 years old now. But trick or treating has always been a part of their childhood lives. After their father passed away, we attempted to resume a normal life, so they have continued in this adventure night.

So, off we went…into trick or treat land. My oldest son with his bitterness and my youngest with his giddy excitement & thoughts of skittles running through his mind.

The first neighborhood was not catering to “older” kids. Each one passing out candy at the homes there gave a disparaging look at the boys & handed them “Just Say No” stickers. Nancy Reagan would have been proud, but the boys were more than disappointed.

We promptly left that neighborhood and went to a sure thing neighborhood. There was candy to be had, and lots of it! My oldest began to perk up some and confessed his anger reasonings he was carrying all night. He was upset because when he trick or treated with his younger neices & nephews, he racked up a large degree of candy. This year, it was all up to luck, charm, and comedy to get candy! And rack up, they did! They had pillow cases full of candy won by wit.

After we got home, the boys did the traditional candy dump and swap to trade candy with each other. Then, my youngest sat some candy outside for Jack & off to bed they went.

They did well all night, after my oldest son moved past the anger stage.  I am most happy to report that PTSD did not have an effect on Halloween Night.

Yea 🙂 🙂 🙂

Oh, I almost forgot, I dressed up also. My costume was an unemployed widowed mom fighting for her family 🙂

There you have it: PTSD on Halloween Night

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