I know, I know.  I said I was going to take the high road a couple of weeks ago and now here I am again, telling you how furious I am.  Though some really awful people behaved despicably towards us (and if I told you about it, I am sure you would agree), my FURY is also an expected result of my post traumatic stress disorder.

Ted and I have watched a couple of segments on TV about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the last few weeks.  Both segments were specifically about vets and PTSD.  Even though I haven't been to war and the experience that soldiers have had are nothing like mine, I can relate to so many of the emotions that they feel.  I can imagine that after being in a war zone, watching your friends being killed and people dying and not being able to change what has already happened would be horrific.  And, to return and see happy families and everyone still living the same happy lives and trying to relate to a culture that worships so much materialism would feel surreal.  I can imagine soldiers coming home from Afghanistan or Iraq must think the rest of us are a bunch of assholes.  I am sure I would think that - because we kind of are.

I have learned a few things about Post Traumatic Stress that I would like to share.  PTSD causes horrible flashbacks.  It's like reliving the very worst parts of your experience over and over again, while sleeping and awake and having no ability to turn them off.  They are vivid and painful and can cause a physical reaction.  PTSD also causes those who are affected to be hyper-vigilant.  We often feel like if we take our eyes off the ball (in my case the ball is Mo) for even one second, history will repeat itself.  People who have Post Traumatic Stress don't feel comfortable in crowds.   Celebrating doesn't come easy either because we often feel no cause for celebration and we are not carefree in the same way that we were or that the other people in our lives are (not that we were ever fully carefree...but rather, our problems were run of the mill problems, like most people we know have).  We know that we will be the buzz kill at any event we attend and that even if we acted normal, that behavior could be cause for people to talk about us or otherwise judge our "normalcy".  Even if they aren't judging us, I am often judging myself...wondering, "how can I feel one ounce of joy without Maxie here?"  PTSD sufferers find it very hard to compartmentalize or suppress their anger.  We have too much else to deal with all of the time emotionally...if someone pisses us off, it just adds insult to our injuries.  Because of all of these things, those of us with PTSD often isolate ourselves.  We don't want to be around other "normal" people who experience happiness, joy, full families, and "regular" stressors.

I guess it is nearly impossible to really grasp what I am telling you unless you have suffered from PTSD yourself.  Hearing about others who are suffering and learning more about it has assured me that what is happening to me is to be expected.  I also know of many other bereaved parents who have this condition.  One thing that I haven't told you yet is that I am working on my PTSD.  It has already gotten much better than it was in the first eight months after Maxie died.  I don't isolate as much.  I am more calm about Mo and less panicked about his safety and health (though still vigilant) and feel more assured that he won't die prematurely.  I find myself laughing about many different things throughout the week.  I am able to look towards the future...not too far into the future...but I can look at next month without assuming that we won't be alive anymore.  Next month, I am even trying an out of the box treatment for PTSD that I hope will help somewhat (or more than somewhat).

As another bereaved parent wrote yesterday, this loss is cataclysmic.  No matter what happens in my life, it will always feel incomplete.  I will always know that my first child is missing, that he should be here, and that it makes no sense at all that he isn't.  I gave him life and he is gone.  I will always remember the call that I got telling me that he stopped breathing.  I may never be able to shake the feeling of complete horror and devastation that I felt when he died in our arms.  My baby!  What happened to us and Max defies logic, it has sabotaged any hopes and dreams that we had for our family, for our future.  I am still shaking...I am still reeling...I am still suffering all day, every day.

1 comment

Kim said...

Abby, I continue to be inspired by your ability to be real and honest and present even when the world's expectations seem to be that you should hide your true feelings and fake it. I'm wondering if you've heard of EMDR therapy for PTSD? Let me know if you haven't heard of it or if you want more info about it. xxxoooKim