May There Always Be An “&”

CW: Sexual trauma, PTSD, suicide

Mental Health Month is ending, but I’m here to tell you, MHM never ends.

I’ve heard that your bravest day is the one you continue to live when you wanted to die. I’ve passed this on to friends but I never knew I’d have such a personal connection to what exactly it meant until this year.

I’m living proof being shattered doesn’t mean life is over. I’m lucky I had others to help pick up the pieces of me & for the mental health team that I’m currently with.

I’ve been in intensive PTSD therapy for quite a few months. So far my experience has been very mixed – just not finding the right match for a therapist I feel comfortable enough to bare my entire soul and broken mind to.

Therapy is both great for you physically and mentally. But it also comes at a price – a very hefty one. The toll that my mind and body were put through mentally just became too much after years of being far too humiliated to actually utter the words “rape” to anyone. It took me 7 years to finally tell my parents about my assaults. Unfortunately, there were multiple.

The thing is, when you experience any kind of sexual assault/abuse, you feel dirty. So dirty that you scrub your body until your skin bleeds. So dirty that somedays you take multiple showers and that’s all you can do. It’s a type of dirty that you feel would expose your uncleanliness to the world.

With uncleanliness, comes shame. And that shame comes like a monster — and in a tsunami of waves. Why couldn’t I protect myself? Chose better people to put my trust in? Then the questions soon turn into guilt. “If my family knew what happened to me, they may never look at me the same again”. Or “What if they think this is my fault?” (I know they didn’t). But most of all, I knew the hardest part would be seeing their faces and knowing how much they had to digest in a very small time.. with a very manic daughter.

I had been ill and in & out of the hospital nearly all winter and things were taking a turn for the worse for me, mentally. Eventually, during the last inpatient stay of last year, I actually became manic from being pumped with so many IV steroids. I went for about 6 days of no sleep before they finally placed me on a bed alarm because I was walking 24 hours of the day. In the middle of a really bad physical state, my mental state was completely deteriorated. This was the first known “trigger” that brought on very traumatic feelings for me. With the steroid-induced mania, my head wasn’t in the right place and this hospitalization was a crumb of hopelessness for me.

I thought “coming clean” would put some weight off my shoulders. I mean – it had been nearly 10 years to the day of my first assault… why was I just developing night terrors, more severe panic attacks and what soon became an official diagnosis of PTSD? I was helpless.

I did the right things. I got out of the hospital. I ended up with a PICC line. I went to therapy, I took the meds, I did the homework. From that point forward, I thought I was putting 100% of myself into self-care.

I knew what I had was an injury; one that resulted from my rape. But at the rate my brain and body were failing miserably to hold each other up, I knew there was nothing left for me to do. So, I gave up.

A couple weeks ago, I did the hardest thing I ever had to do – come to terms with what was happening to my body and my mental state. I was absolutely depleted of all rest and wasn’t finding appropriate coping mechanisms to actually help me get through panic attacks, flashbacks, and episodes of major shock. A few days before I sought treatment, I was in an absolute panic.

I knew what ahead of me was by far harder than anything anyone had ever done to me.

I came to know that I was actually in shock. I guess it can hit at any time, especially if you don’t seek professional help at the times you really should. It didn’t take me long to realize that my sleep cycle – or lack thereof, was causing me to become manic. It was shortly after that I became desperate for help instead of isolating myself like I had been doing for weeks and even months as I recently began to experience intense flashbacks I had never remembered before. I went down a hole very fast and soon all I was capable of was crying in a fetal position. And then the tears stopped. And all I could do was stare at a wall.

I knew the minute I had no interest in seeing my niece and nephews one evening, I needed help. I needed it that night.

Though I was seeking treatment before my hospitalization, it wasn’t the right kind for me and we have now found a more suitable therapy for me that will be intense, hard and it will hopefully break down walls I’ve had built up for years that I just could not emotionally or physically climb out of. It’s going to be fucking hard if I’m honest. In-patient in a psych unit wasn’t the hard part; it’s the transition home and beginning to edge on dangerous thoughts.

The bravest thing I’ve ever done was choosing to seek help. I have zero shame that I was hospitalized or that I sought care. I’m so thankful to my family & best friend who has supported me beyond belief.

I sought help for my deficit the way anyone should with their health – I sought care for it the moment I knew something was broken. This obviously wasn’t a physical type of broken – it was mental and emotional. Nothing could have prepared me to wake up after a night of sleep and experience excruciating PTSD shock, never wanting to wake up.

Life isn’t perfect. The hardest part of my journey will begin as I enter a new type of therapy. I will be challenging, it will be intensive and it will break me down – I’m trying to be as open-minded as possible.

I’m still fighting like hell to be here.

But I’m glad I chose to stay. I will always believe there is a before & an after.

ill always have a before & after.

DISCLAIMER:

If you are struggling & in need of resources, please see below.

I’ll never not urge someone to seek health for their mental health. (yeah, a double-negative – arrest me. I’m passionate)

Call 1-800-273-8255

Lifeline: To speak to a counselor now, please call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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14 Years Later – A Family Room Perspective

Full disclosure: Out of all the blogs I’ve written, I’m particularly proud of this one. I really hope you take the time to read the whole thing (the whole article can be found here & also again at the bottom of this page). I poured my heart and soul into this particular piece, as sitting in this room brought back flooding memories into my heart and mind. Our family spent a lot of time on this floor, sometimes particularly in this room. I hope this resonates with patients that have gone through similar serious situations and also with the family members who might have had to say goodbye to a family member at one point not knowing what the outcome would be.
Today I celebrate 14 years living with this diagnosis; a day that would alter the course of my entire life, unknowingly. There was so much we didn’t know that day – the bad & the very good.

To read the full article, click here

This room is full of emotions. This is the room that 14 years ago, my parents would be pulled from and told that I have sepsis, pancreatitis, and needed surgery for ruptured cysts from endometriosis, and also later told that this might be a goodbye.

Goodbye.

It’s a strange notion, knowing you survived death.

I “celebrate” my diagnosis day on July 13, 3 days after a milestone birthday. Just a young girl navigating the world when suddenly shocked by Crohn’s Disease.

I was so fragile, my body being kept alive by TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition). There was a picc line placed in my left arm & through that line, nutrition was given to me through feedings to my heart.

Today is the first time I walked back into the family room. It was eerily quiet enough to hear a pin drop, but my thoughts were louder than my head could contain. What did these 14 years contain that this room could barely hold?

Full blog here: 14 Years Later: A Family Room Perspective

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To read the rest of this blog (I highly encourage it!), please click:

Shout Out to the Caregivers

Shout out to the caregivers.

The ones who take off from work to be with us during long and sometimes tough procedures.
The ones who would drop anything to take you to where you need to be.
The ones who hold you when you cry and make you feel safe when you are most vulnerable.
The ones who would do anything to switch spots with you in a heartbeat and want to take the pain from you.

See the rest of the post by clicking below.

 

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See original content at:  Inflammatory Bowel Disease . Net

Being the Sick Friend

The unspoken label no one wants, but is referred to anyway.. the “sick” friend. Not everyone has one, but in a world full of amazing scientific research, as well as the best diagnostics that we’ve ever had….. there is likely more than one in a group of friends.

I’m not talking about the friend that has migraines once in a while that seem to go away with Excedrin. I’m talking about the friend that misses parties, weddings, or their own graduations because they are too sick to leave their house, their hospital bed, and their safe space.

I’m that friend

I guess I was a friend when it was convenient.
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to read the rest, read the original content here: Being the Sick Friend