Monday, February 8, 2010

PTSD, it's not just for battlefields.

So, last month, I was diagnosed with PTSD.
I am not one to go in and discuss my feelings with a doctor
as demostrated when I waited 7 months to tell my doctor
that I was feeling a little "blue" after I had Brendell in 2003.
Feelings like that had been foreign to me up until that point.
But there was no denying the change.
Almost immediately after my c-section I felt different.
For seven months I felt different.
I kept thinking that it was my fault that I was not myself
so it took alot for me to go to my doctor.
I was not the lay in bed kind of depressed,
but I was having irrational fears about my new baby
and feeling completely inadequate.
I felt like everyone was judging me and
that they secretly thought that I was a horrible person.
This was the total opposite of my normal personality,
so at the prompting of my husband, I went to our assigned doctor on base.
She diagnosed me with post pardom depression
and put me on Zoloft.
I gained 15 pounds in 6 weeks and begged her to change my meds.
She switched me to Effexor claiming that it generally did not cause weight gain.
I put on 30 more pounds over the next four months
and was basically emotionally numb.
I went through the motions of motherhood,
but I felt very little.
I decided I'd rather be paranoid then a fat zombie,
so I weaned myself off of Effexor
and my hormones eventually worked themselves out.
By the time Bren was two and a half,
things were back to normal for me.
The weight, however, has stuck around give or take 10 pounds.
So, you can see why I was so reluctant this time
to tell my doctor what I have been dealing with over the past 6 months.
But, my symptoms were getting more and more bothersome,
so I really had no other choice than to have that
"please tell me I'm not crazy" conversation again.
I always thought PTSD was just for soldiers who had experienced
horrible things on the battlefield,
but the truth is that trauma (any trauma) is damaging in many ways.
Near death experiences change you,
and not always in the "I almost died, so now I'm going to go do amazing things
with my second chance" kind of ways.
Sometimes it makes you question your ability to protect yourself
and those for whom you are responsible.
Sometimes it makes you feel guilty for having exposed your loved ones
to such an event.
Sometimes it makes you feel like it was your fault for not
being able to avoid the trauma.
Sometimes when you don't heal back exactly how you were
it makes you feel both angry at your lack of control
and horrible for not being thankful that you healed at all.
I have been reliving my tubing accident more often than I'd like to
when I close my eyes to go to sleep
or when I catch myself zoning out in the middle of the day.
I have irrational fears about things I'm usually not afraid of.
We almost brought Bren with us that day and she would have been
on my raft with me.
That thought consumes too much of my time
and it's irrational to get so worked up over something that did not happen.
The fear I experience is strong enough to cause tightening in my chest,
difficulty breathing and restless sleep.
My usual "roll with the punches" attitude has been replaced
by someone who can't handle stress very well
and who flies off the handle more often.
I'm just not me.
Luckily, I have an awesome doctor now
who really listens to me and we decide together on a course of treatment.
She knew that I would absolutely not take anything
that made me feel like a zombie or put a single pound on me,
so we researched together something that had a low chance of doing either.
I'm taking Wellbutrin and so far I've lost 13 pounds
and I haven't felt that tightening in my chest in weeks.
I'm so relieved that I don't have to trade extra pounds and
emotional numbness for my sanity.
I'm also relieved to know that everything I was feeling
has a name and a solution
and it wasn't just that I was too weak to handle the trauma
or too selfish to be thankful that I am alive.
I'm still getting used to the medicine in my system
and I'm working on becoming more like me again.
It took alot for me to blog about this.
I don't like to broadcast my weaknesses.
Many of my closest friends don't even know what has been going on.
I don't like to stir up concern for me.
I'd rather comfort than be comforted,
and I like to be perceived as someone who
is strong and can be counted on
not someone who needs help.
I am energized by encouraging and being there for others,
but it is so hard for me to be that person who needs strength
from other people.
So, I hid everything, put on a smile
and pretended as best as I could,
but I wanted you to know why I've been so sporadic with my posting
over the last 6 months.
Sometimes I just couldn't get outside of my own head enough
to post anything relevant or interesting.
Hopefully, most of this is behind me now
and I can look forward to much brighter days ahead.


Jennifer said...

Becca-Thanks so much for your post. I too have been struggling with OCD, well almost since I have had children, but a lot for the past three years. Before I got pregnant with JuJu, I took Wellbutrin and it was wonderful. But now with her here and still nursing I am unable to take meds and have had to learn different coping strategies. A lot of self talk, that doesn't always work when I am in an anxious panic attack over some irrational fear of having some illness that doesn't exist. Thanks for sharing your story with me. I think letting other people know what is going on not only makes us a stronger person, it begins the healing. HUGS.

momy4him said...

love you becca!! you are brave for sharing and bringing hope to others who may have feelings of anxiety.

Anonymous said...

thanks so much for sharing. I haven't been feeling too much like myself lately either. I keep having unnecessary anxiety attacks over things that I know shouldn't bother me and wouldn't normally. It is so frustrating not having control over it or your own feelings. It is hard to talk about it. So thank you for being bold and putting yourself out there.
I also have more insight into my brother now, he was hit by a car almost 2 years ago but hasn't been the same and a lot of what you said makes sense as to what he could be feeling.

Chip said...

Thanks Becca. We've all got our battles. When you share yours you help the rest of us feel normal too.

Cheryl said...

I went through a long period of crippling anxiety attacks years ago. What got me through it was talking, as hard as that was. Everyone was so empathetic and also had their own stories to share. It made me see that we're all human, and it brought us closer. I'm so glad you shared. You're on your way to a better place.

Michele said...

Sharing your feelings/experiences and "admitting" that you have faults is a big step toward recovery. I commend you for taking the time (as hard as it was) to open up in your blog about your struggles.

Crazy Homeschool Mama said...

please be careful with the Wellbutrin...I know all the meds affect us all differently, but Wellbutrin made me want to drive off a cliff...with my kids in the car....just please be careful...not meant to scare you..just care!