Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Birthday to me......

So in about 2 hours it will be my birthday. Yay me. :) I will be 38 years old. Not a landmark age for most but for me it's a hard one. It marks another year that I haven't been able to be alone, haven't been able to do my own shopping, haven't been able to get through a week without anxiety. However, I am determined to make tomorrow a good day so I'm going to get all this out of the way first!

Five years ago I decided that I had had about all I could take of a bad situation & made the move into an apartment of my own, my ex husband & I became "separated". That was mistake number one. The apartment that I moved into was basically in the ghetto. It was loud, VERY loud, all the time. I was afraid to go outside without some form of protection, my children couldn't go outside to play. It made life very stressful. This is about the time that my anxiety started to get really bad. No surprise there.

People have no idea what it's like to live in low income housing, unless they have been there. I called the police on an almost daily basis to report one thing or another. Usually people sitting outside drunk or doing drugs (Yep, right out on the front steps in front of God & everybody.) & screaming at each other in the middle of the night. Now don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for the police & very thankful for what they do. In this particular case though they did nothing. As soon as they would pull in the parking lot people would scatter, as soon as they left people came back. No progress was ever made.

I hear people talk about how wonderful low income housing is for the poor. Well, it keeps you off the streets, that's about all that can be said for it. A change needs to be made with the program in a major way. People should be able to leave their homes without feeling threatened. Children should be able to go outside & play. Families should be able to sleep through the night without listening to screaming at all hours. I honestly think the best thing for these places would be armed security 24/7. At the very least through the night.

So here is what I learned from this situation, noise makes anxiety worse! Feeling unsafe REALLY makes anxiety worse! Calling the police doesn't always help so you better have some form of self defense. Do everything you can to provide for yourself & your family so you don't have to rely so much on "social programs" just to live.

Some of you might now be thinking that this blog is going to be nothing more than a pity party. I assure it's not! There are some good parts to my story, I'm just getting all of the bad out of the way first so that you know the background story & can watch for these triggers in your own lives. Remember, I really hope to help someone else, something good HAS to come from all I've been through.

Ok, I am going to bed, keep me in your prayers tomorrow, that I can focus on the good things about it being my birthday & not all the bad that it represents. Thanks! <3

Friday, May 24, 2013

New life...new blog!

Welcome! I am Heather & I have been encouraged to start a new blog by many of my former readers, so I guess I'm going to give it a try. You see, I used to write a cat blog, for several years. My life started to get kind of...scrambled..... shall we say & I just couldn't continue in my writing. Then I had to have my kitty put down & I no longer had anything to write about. Then life really got crazy! This new blog might come in fits & starts as I try to sort things out in my own head so bear with me.

For the last 4 years I have been suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This blog will be about my experiences that led to the PTSD, my struggles with it & my journey as I try to get my life back. Much like that kitty above, I can sense the relief that is coming but it's not quite there yet!

I was in an accident (I will tell you about that later.) almost 10 years ago that nearly took my life. I had no idea there was such a thing as delayed onset PTSD but there is & I am so bogged down in it some days I can't see straight. Literally.

Most people know little to nothing about PTSD & for those people I say consider yourself lucky! I have been forced to become somewhat of an expert on it. It has been a VERY humbling experience I can tell you that! One that I wish I never had, one that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

PTSD can happen to anyone. I didn't know that. It can happen at any time after the trauma that causes it. I didn't know that either. I thought I was fine after my accident & on the surface I was. I never had nightmares or anything like that. I talked about the accident all the time, with anyone who would listen & it never bothered me. In fact I had such a huge amount of confidence in myself after surviving what I did that I lost track of the most important aspect, I didn't save me, God saved me.

My experience started with anxiety, low level anxiety that was easy to walk away from. Slowly, as I made changes in my life, not realizing the changes I made were making me worse, that anxiety increased to the point of panic attacks, starting when I was driving alone at night. That progressed to when I was driving alone period, then when I was driving at all. Then when I was in crowded places, then if I was in public at all. Remember, this was about 5 years AFTER my accident so I never made any connection between that & what I was suffering with.

I ended up sending my children to live with their father, (which was the hardest thing I've ever done), because I couldn't care for them in the sense that, if they needed to go to the doctor I couldn't take them because I could not only no longer drive, I couldn't even go in with them! If they needed to be picked up from, or even driven to school, I couldn't do it. I could feed them & get their laundry done but that was about it as far as being a mother went. I was barely functioning enough to get through my day.

Eventually the panic attacks increased to the point that I was in a near constant state of panic & I became agoraphobic. For those who don't know, agoraphobia is a condition that is mostly associated with people who can't leave their home due to panic (like me!), actually it is more correctly described as avoiding any situation that makes you feel unsafe. In my case, I couldn't leave my home without panicking, so I didn't. Which was kind of silly because I was panicking at home too! I couldn't escape it.

For a year I did nothing proactive, thinking it would pass, that I was strong enough to fight my way through it. Remember that confidence I mentioned?  :)  Besides, I couldn't go anywhere anyway so what kind of help could I get! I slept through the first six months, more or less, depressed from my circumstances & my lack of ability to get over it. I was staying with my (now ex) mother-in-law & brother-in-law because one of those decisions I made that made things worse was finally giving up on my marriage & moving out of my husband's home. Now though, I couldn't be alone & there was always someone at her house so that seemed like the only option I had. It ended up making things worse for me but.....it seemed like that was all I had.

One evening I was trying to use the computer, which back then caused anxiety to the point of panic. I had put my head down on the desk to try to clear my head when I had a very clear image of me trying to end my own life. God trying to get my attention? That's the way I took it, because I would NEVER do that. I experienced a very close family member trying to commit suicide when I was very little & I remember how that felt. I would NEVER put my children through that. The next day I got in touch with a Christian counselor who would start me on my journey to getting better.

Don't misunderstand, I'm not there yet. I am however a thousand times better than I was. I know how to get better now & slowly, SO slowly, I'm getting there.

So, I invite you to walk with me through this journey that has been filled with so much pain & disappointment, so that you might gain some understanding of PTSD. A little education of sorts that might help you be more compassionate, helpful, & understanding to the people in your life who might be suffering through some of what I've been through. I fully intend to make something good come out of all I've been through these last few years & this is where I will start! I am breaking away.....