Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - How Does This Impact Your Life
PTSD – What does that even mean?
This term has come to the front lines over and over again, but do we really know what it means. Many people have come forward to say “YES” I have post-traumatic stress disorder and it is real!
PTSD is a real disorder that is for sure. There are many different ways that you can acquire this silent disease. It all goes back to that word “trauma”. Anyone who has been through an extremely stressful, traumatic experience in life can suffer from PTSD without even know it.
I am one of those people. My childhood was filled with horrific abuse – mental, physical and sexual, tap in emotional and you have a mixture of disaster waiting to explode. As I grew up and repressed so much of my trauma my mind found ways to mask the pain. It is amazing how the brain works and will store the baggage that you are not ready to look at, feel or express. The brain is an amazing organ in our bodies filled with so much knowledge, it is the key to everything.
The down fall to masking the misery is that at some point it comes back. The brain can only hold onto it for so long and something will trigger an explosion, and when it hits it can be a mixed back of tricks! The nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks that seem to come out of nowhere leaving you wondering what the hell just happened. As your breathe is excreted from your body, and you choke on the reality of all that you have been through, BAM there is it YOUR PAST.
I have had a few of those, as I call them, “Ah Ha moments”; and let me tell you they are not fun! The first time was as a young teen. I was trying to move forward with my life but a trigger sent me into a horrific panic attack. The flashbacks were so fierce that I was not sure what was real and what was memory. I did not know what I was actually experiencing in the moment, but I knew it was not normal.
That incident left me frightened. I was terrified of being like my mother. My mom was mentally ill, and as a child I watched in horror the traumatic events that no child should ever see. My fear was being like her. So, I fought with all my strength in my body and once again repressed it; tucking it into my brain the memory bank to our soul. I pushed forward! I was determined to get beyond whatever that horrible experience was. I never questioned it, I left it there and kept on moving.
Fast forward onto adulthood, I am now married with three young children to raise. My life is crazy, and I am engrossed in the family lifestyle trying to be the best mother that I can be, and priding myself in being a committed, loving wife to my incredibly hard-working husband.
The stresses of my daily grind, plus continuing to deal with my sick mom took a toll on me, and the triggers of the past came exploding out of my head, this time on extensive over-drive. I was living in a daily world of past and present at the same time trying to juggle it all. I battled the beast in my head for a very long time until I could no longer hide the pain, the shame and the disgusting images that would implode at the worst possible moments. I always kept my composure as I was lost in thought trying to force it all back into that dark place, but my body was screaming at me NOOOOOO…. It is time to tame the beast!! It is time to speak the words that you so desperately wanted to for years. It is time to break the silence once and for all.
I had no choice it was time. I wanted a full life with my family filled with joy, not continual pain. I made the conscious choice to seek counseling. With tears in my eyes and a heavy heart I made my way. This another trigger for me thinking, “Am I my mother”? Am I crazy? Yes, I use that word because it is the word she used. It was a word imbedded in my brain from the time I could understand it.
I sat with my therapist and I exploded; it was an empowering moment, as those dirty words rolled across my lips for the very first time. I was hearing the sound of my own voice as I shared my “unspoken truth”. As I sobbed, my therapist looked at me and said, “Lisa you are not crazy, you have what is called PTSD”. I looked at him astonished as what he was saying to me. As he explained what it was and why I had it, it all made sense. I heard the words that I longed to hear for a very long time. I was NOT crazy! He validated for me that my past trauma was the very reason I was sitting in his office, and we can work together to change my future.
Yes, empowering moment for sure. Please do not think once I had that moment it was all flowers and roses. I had to work extremely hard to overcome so many things. Looking back into my past with a raw set of eyes, digging deep and facing each memory one by one. It was painstaking at times, felt impossible at times, but I did it. I had a mindset, and that was I will not let my past win. I will not let my past rob me of a fantastic life! I had so much I wanted and needed to do with my life, and I was on a mission. That mission was to heal.
Fast forward to 2018 –
I am healing more and more every single day. I continue to work on my triggers, and quirks (as I call them). I wrote my personal memoir “The Unspoken Truth” as my way of giving back and hopefully help others to raise their voice, like I have raised mine. I am a survivor, thriving on life every day pushing for better things, raising awareness and helping. This is who I really am. A wife, a mother, a grandmother, a caregiver, an author/advocate. In this battle with PTSD I found myself the real Lisa and you know what I like her! I am so glad she showed up!!!
Please remember as you go through your personal struggles to be kind to yourself and take those necessary steps towards healing. I know it is scary, actually terrifying, but possible. I am proof that with proper support, a strong mindset and a whole bunch of faith and hope, you can get there too.
I raised my voice and broke the silence once and for all!!! I stand with you as you learn to raise yours.
Embrace the journey.
The Unspoken Truth A Memoir