Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Living With PTSD.

I naively thought PTSD was something only war veterans had to deal with. I never once for a minute, imagined it would be something I would have to face. It turns out PTSD can occur to anyone, for any reason, but commonly when there has been a threat to life. So here I am, facing this whole new world of emotions and feelings, grieving for my little boy, for the loss of my fertility and somehow battling the thoughts and flashbacks that all come with this diagnosis.

Image from here

It's hard to explain what it's like living with post-traumatic stress. It's like there is no escape from reminders or triggers and flashbacks can occur at any given time. I can be taken of guard and thrown back to January in an instant, and it's like everything is happening all over again. This can happen several times a day, if I'm triggered by an ambulance or something else I associate with the hospital. I've built this safety cocoon around myself, I avoid anything that I think will mean I'm around babies/pregnant women, as well as avoiding particular routes near to the hospital. Similarly I avoid anything that could be remotely related to hospital or child birth on the TV and go to the extent to read synopsis of series or films before committing to watching, just to ensure they're 'safe'. And ultimately in doing this, I've made my world a little smaller.

My brain is constantly on over drive, searching or listening out for what it believes is a danger. Unlike a normal response to seeing an ambulance, my body goes straight into flight or fight. I can hear a siren miles away, so much so that Jonathan won't even notice it. My heart races, I become quite teary and I'm thrown straight back to being on the floor in my bathroom, soaking towels in blood and just listening for the siren. I've become so heightened to this, that even a song on the radio can suddenly remind me of a siren sound or I can hear a siren without one actually being there. It can be incredibly scary when your mind plays tricks on you, the control is completely gone.

Image from Google

I can recall every minute from the moment I started bleeding, right up until Jonah's birth. I could tell you the sights, smells, sounds literally minute by minute. They're engrained in my mind and somedays they're really hard to escape.

Normal life can be really tough. Violet and I have found new groups to go to, because I know that there are not as many babies or pregnant ladies. I've had to ensure any training I have for work is at different health centres and I've even had to change counselling locations, again to avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital. We have just redecorated our bathroom and I can finally bare to be in there, without having constant reminders. All of these little tweaks to my normal day, can be really exhausting.

I am incredibly lucky to be receiving therapy on the NHS, which has recently started. I am going to the starting EMDR therapy, which I know very little about. I do know that this is a therapy that is only used to treat PTSD and has really great results. I guess I'm writing this as a way for me to compare what life was like before therapy.

I am a different person to who I was before Jonah. I have been changed irreversibly but that's not all bad. I no longer feel the need to please everyone, at the expense of looking after myself. I am stronger, braver, more open and honest about my feelings and emotions. And yes I have PTSD, but that doesn't and will never define me. I'm just a mummy, trying to get through life parenting one baby here and one in my heart.

Katie xx

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