Thursday, May 2, 2013

Invisible Disabilities

Sometimes I do not know how to begin: how to begin a new post, or conversation with a new person, or just begin.   I have come across times in my life where I am completely stopped, but life moves on, and I am faced with the task of trying to begin again.  Picking up the pieces inside me, or around me, and beginning anew.  For months now I have struggled, do I share what has stopped me?  Do I let people see the ugly, the imperfect, and the weaknesses I struggle with?  Do I leave myself open and vulnerable?

At the end of the day I have always answered no.   No, people might think I want attention.  No, people might think this is a badge I wear proudly.  No, people won't understand.   No, I don't want people to think less of me or see me differently.  No, I don't want anything to change.   But in saying no, this weight I am carrying has become heavier and heavier.   I am very good at hiding things, very good at side stepping, and very good at appearing like I have it all together.   But now, against my own good reasoning, I think I need to share how I don't.

PTSD.  It is my invisible disability.   

I guess I should begin by explaining it some.  Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a severe form of an anxiety disorder that develops after a life threatening physical or emotional trauma; and for me, that was giving birth to Little One, and then triggered again by similar complications after Little Three's birth.

As you have probably noticed I have not mentioned or talked much about his birth.   Even now, I am not ready to share the details of that experience, except to say that I came very very close to dying just a week after my little one was born.  Avoidance, that is one of the symptoms.   I have many blog entries I have started, but have never been able to finished because it is too difficult.   Because I avoid anything that triggers the panic attacks, blackouts, flashbacks, and nightmares.   It might be almost 6 years ago, but they have not gone away, only lessoned.   The symptoms have succeeded in building up walls between myself and those around me, not because I don't desire closeness and relationships, but because I live with a daily fear and expectation that someone I love dearly (my husband or one of my little ones) will be taken from me.   It is the constant state of flight or fight that I am working against.   The constant state of panic I am trying to relax out of.   The constant fear of vulnerability that I am working to overcome.  It is like sitting on the beach watching the ocean.  Sometimes the waves are small and far off in the distance, but then the tide comes in and over takes you.   There are moments I forget what is going on in my brain, and I think it has passed.  But sometimes, sometimes my reality is altered and I am stuck in a small hospital room 6 years ago and the waves of anxiety and panic are all coming in and crashing around me.

This past year I have felt completely stopped, but I have watched as life continued on around me, and as I have found myself countless times before, I am trying to figure out a way to begin ... again.