September 8, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers!  I hope this post finds you well.

I had a rough day yesterday.  I needed to run down the street to the craft store to get a couple of things for a project I’m making, but I couldn’t do it.  The agoraphobia was really bad.  The thought of going out terrified me, which ultimately depressed me, & made me feel so trapped.  I talked to hubby about everything when he got home in the afternoon, & he suggested I write more details about my daily battles with these mental health problems.  So, here you are..

As any followers of my writing know, I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It stems from years of emotional incest, plus emotional & verbal abuse starting in childhood, as far back as I can remember.  Symptoms of C-PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, difficultly regulating mood, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, a heightened startle response, hyper vigilance & agoraphobia (fear of public places).   The last few nights I barely have slept at all, even with the help of sleeping pills.  This lack of sleep makes the symptoms flare up worse than usual, which is probably why the agoraphobia was so bad yesterday.  I literally could NOT make myself go to the craft store!  It was depressing & frustrating, leaving me crying most of the day.  When my husband came home, he wanted to know what was wrong & I told him.  I also told him more details about my battle with agoraphobia, which I thought I would share with you.

Before all of the C-PTSD symptoms manifested, I had some- nightmares, anxiety, depression, & an exaggerated startle response.  I lived with these symptoms off & on my entire life & to varying degrees.  Depression was always the worst, leaving me suicidal most of the first twenty five years or so of my life.  Then in September, 1996, my maternal grandmother died.  I hadn’t seen her in a few years at that point, due to first my mother & my ex-husband telling me that my grandparents were ashamed of me & didn’t care about me.  Grandmom’s death was very hard for me- I loved my paternal grandparents dearly, & had missed them so much.  I felt horrible I hadn’t been able to bring myself to say good bye to her (even though I also figured she probably wouldn’t have cared to see me), & my father reinforced my guilt. I had my first full blown panic attack the night before Grandmom’s viewing.  I refused to go to it the following day, or her funeral the day after, much to my father’s dismay.  (To this day, I don’t think he understands why I didn’t go in spite of my explaining things, but we don’t discuss it.)  

Shortly after, I suddenly was having problems with going into public places.  They suddenly terrified me.  I was a little better with someone beside me, but going to these places alone was out of the question.  Eventually, I prayed, asking God what this was all about.  He told me that all my life, I’d been made to feel like I need to be invisible- have no feelings, needs or wants, bother no one in any way, shape or form.  Stay “on a shelf” until I’m needed.  (All of this is a result of the emotional incest I’ve experienced at my parents’ hands.)  Then a few days after Grandmom died, hubby told his mother about my loss when we were visiting his parents one day.  She completely ignored him, & changed the subject.  (She’s never liked me, so this response wasn’t surprising)  Somehow, in my mind, this cemented the fact I am to have no needs, feelings, etc.  When that happened, I somehow also started to believe that I should not even be in a public place.  No one needs to be bothered with my presence.  

Intense, isn’t it?  This knowledge helped me tremendously, though.  I started telling myself I was fine- I could go out, I was doing nothing wrong, bothering no one, & have every right to come & go as I please.  For several years, I would become somewhat anxious, but not terrified any longer, of public places.  

Then in May, 2012, I developed all of the symptoms for C-PTSD, & the agoraphobia came back with a vengeance.  Even armed with the knowledge of why I have it, I still battle it.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because my brain is actually damaged (people with PTSD & C-PTSD actually have physical damage to their brains resulting from the trauma they have experienced).  Maybe it’s because I’ve tried to be strong for too long, & lack the strength to continue fighting agoraphobia.  I don’t know.  But, I’m learning to live with it at least.  It’s a step in the right direction.

I’m learning the importance of relaxing & sleep.  The more relaxed & well-rested I am, the better the chances I can go out alone without having a panic attack in a store.  I am constantly trying to remind myself that I am important- I have needs, feelings & wants just like everyone.  I also remind myself I have limitations, & that is ok.  I have beat myself up for years because I have problems stemming from all of the abuse I’ve experienced in my life.  All it did was make me feel guilty.  That makes no sense!  Those who abused me should feel guilty, not me!  I have reacted in a very normal way to an abnormal amount of crap!  I have started talking some about what I have experienced.  In fact, I wrote about it in my book, “Emerging from the Chrysalis” (ebook: “Emerging from the Chrysalis”).  Writing that book was a huge step for me, as I was always told not to “air our dirty laundry” or made to feel guilty if I did discuss being abused with anyone.  Making my story available to the whole world was (& still is!) terrifying!  But, it is my story & mine alone- I have the right to choose what I do with my story.  And maybe, sharing it will help others.  I pray it will, like I pray sharing my battles with C-PTSD & all of its symptoms will…

Thank you for reading my blog, & may God bless you!  Feel free to share this post or my blog if you like..

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health

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