Tuesday, 9 May 2017

My PTSD Story :: #mentalhealthawarenessweek

At the present moment, mental health is a massive topic. The statistics for mental health sufferers is hard reading and even more so now it has been published that only 1% of NHS funding goes towards mental health. 

Mental health still even to this day has a stigma surrounding it. Even back when I was studying counselling, it was such a taboo subject..but why? Just because it's an illness we can't see, that doesn't mean it's not there. I have witnessed mental health and the damage it has on loved ones both from a professional and a personal perspective. Did I ever for a second believe it would happen to me? I can honestly say I was one of those people that thought I was strong enough to overcome anything but that wasn't the case. Now that it's Mental Health Awareness Week, I have decided that I no longer want to hide my struggle and share my story.

Back in September 2016, my relationship ended and the root cause was my ex's depression. Even though I had lived with his illness for 2 months previously, it was such a massive shock and the impact it had on me was a world apart from any other break-up.

A week or so after he left, I was dealing with the break up the same way anyone else would..I was crying constantly, not eating, asking myself question after question of what I did wrong...but something else was there and I knew straight away it wasn't a standard feeling of loss.

When I went to bed at night, I struggled to sleep in my room. I felt like it was a void and if I went in there I would be hurt or someone or something would 'get me' because that was the room we shared together and the room where he had broken up with me. I was watching TV with my mum and a trailer for Gavin & Stacey came on, I ran out of the house and sat outside because that was the programme he and I watched together. I would experience nightmares, something I very very VERY rarely have and sudden reminders of him or memories put me in a panic which made my heart feel like it was about to leap out of my chest and smack me across the face.

I knew from all of this that there was something deeply wrong with me and I wasn't handling the break up like I would've done usually, I went to the doctors and he confirmed my concerns...

I was suffering from PTSD

PTSD is commonly associated with ex forces or people who have gone through a rape or traumatic accident but it can affect people from something as straight forward as a break up and my god it hit me like a bullet train.
My ex and I were together for 3.5 years and he was the love of my life, I wanted to marry him and have his children. For him to leave me when I had supported him and stood by him was what triggered my PTSD and made me question everything about myself. Anyone who knows me, knows that I will go above and beyond for the people I love and I will sacrifice everything to ensure they are safe, happy and at peace with their life. For him to do what he did, I had to ask myself why after 30 years on this planet, had it come to this. Was I a bad person? Did I hurt him? Where did I go wrong? Yes, these are the questions we ask ourselves when we deal with a break up but this is when PTSD takes a nasty turn. 

I didn't just cry or hurt inside when I remembered the good times and memories we had together, I went into a blind panic. I would sweat, jump at every little sound or even when people spoke..everything was a trigger for me. 

PTSD is a complex disease. Say for example if you suffer from anxiety. Your anxiety will kick in from being in a crowded environent or getting onto a plane, PTSD is similar only we are in the firm belief that being in that crowded environment or getting onto a plane will somehow reinact what happened to us. A month or so after the break up, I was walking to my local shop like I have done every day for years then out of nowhere someone beeped their car horn and most people would think 'oh are they beeping at me is it someone I know?' - in my mind it was him and he had come back to me to break up with me all over again. My brain told me I couldn't go through it again and I ran home. 

I'm a stubborn bitch I admit but even I knew I couldn't do this by myself so I went for counselling and believe me, a counsellor going for counselling is more ironic than you can believe. But what the counselling taught me was that it's a fact of life that as humans we must go through traumatic events so that we can establish our coping mechanisms and build up our 'fight or flight' responses. It wasn't my fault that my ex left me, I did everything in my power and out of the love I had for him but his depression TOLD him he had to leave. I did nothing wrong. But with me being the type of person who feels like they were put on the earth to be a people pleaser and make sure everyone is safe and happy, it knocked the shit out of my confidence and I felt like a failure not only to myself, but to my ex. My counsellor reassured me that this was not the case and that I am a good person and nothing that happened was my fault.

So here I am now, 8 months later, pregnant with his baby. He came back briefly but we once again seperated but I thought being pregnant with his baby would bring back everything that put the fear of god in me and the flashbacks would rear their ugly heads...they haven't. I feel nothing but love for this baby and even though my ex did what he did and hurt me beyond belief, I forgive him. I believe in my heart that he didn't mean to hurt me and I really know the heart of the man, depression took over and one day, he will come back stronger than ever. I think about him everyday, more so now that I am carrying his baby but the memories are no longer painful also the memory of the day we broke up has completely vanished from my mind. I miss him everyday too but again, this is no longer a painful experience. It upsets me but knowing how far I have come and knowing that I have to be strong for my children is what keeps me going. As for me? I'm ok, 2 words I never thought would come out of my mouth after everything I went through but...

I'm OK

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