Tuesday, May 22, 2012

PTS... what?

Scaling the Mountain: Part 6

I sat in my doctor's office a couple of months ago.  I had been through a gamut of medical help, doctors, and treatments for all the strange things my body has been going through the past couple years.  I had improved in so many ways, both physically and mentally.  But there were still symptoms that just didn't respond to any treatments or resolve in any way.  I had had a headache... a single, ongoing headache for about 19 months.  I was still experiencing hypervigilant feelings.  A certain sound, atmosphere, or even a person would trigger a "fight or flight" response in my body that I couldn't control, and that would last for days.  My heart was still pounding.  Nightmares were still plaguing me.  I was still so fragile.  Outside of my immediate family and doctors and nurses, there were still only eight people I felt a sense of safety with... felt I could be myself with.  Something still wasn't right at all.

My doctor looked at me with gentle eyes.  I think you have a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he told me.

How can that be?  I haven't been fighting in Iraq.  I haven't been assaulted or witnessed a violent act.  I just didn't understand.  I thought that if I admitted to having PTSD, I would be diminishing the experiences and traumas of others.  But I couldn't deny that the symptoms lined up.

It doesn't just have to be a result of a single event, he informed me.  It can be a series of events or stresses over a period of time, he said, assuring me.  It could be a result of feeling trapped or helpless.

He agreed to give me some meds on one condition.  I would have to go to see a counselor and do some work with cognitive behavioral therapy.  It would be hard work, and it would probably take a while.

I am afraid to admit all this.  I feel afraid of what people will think... about this "label," about me taking meds.  I am embarrassed to admit how horribly I have been at coping with stress.  I am ashamed to admit that in past years, I took on a bunch of guilt that wasn't my own, and I let it rule me.  I was too frightened to ask for help back when I needed it.  I didn't want to be that honest.  I didn't want to hurt other people.  So I kept everything inside.

I feel like I let everyone down.  

Including myself.  

And especially God.

But God is taking me by His right hand, leading me again, onto yet another path of healing.  I am learning to walk with Him one step at a time, one obstacle after another.  I'm learning to breathe in His life again.  I'm choosing to cast my anxiety upon Him, and truly believe that He cares for me.  Some days I am dealing with the effects of something that triggered my mind and body, and I am trusting Him to walk me through.  Other days, He delivers me from symptoms, and I feel like me... no headache, no hypervigilance, no pounding heart or nightmares.  I am learning to walk in gratitude no matter how I feel.  When I am weak, I thank Him for His strength and faithfulness, and that I can grow in compassion.  When I am feeling stronger, I thank Him for joy that comes easily, fresh hope, and the ability to think clearly.

I am thankful for Him and for the help He has provided for me.  I am thankful for the family and friends who have stuck by me, encouraged me, and let me be me.  I'm thankful for wise counsel.  And I'm thankful for those little pills that are helping the dendrites in my neurological system to start flourishing again, while I'm doing the mental and spiritual work I need to do.

As hard as this has all been, 

I am thankful for this season 

and I am thankful for my life. 


Susan said...

Oh Linda. Who could imagine that ongoing stress could cause PST? Like you, I thought it had to be one serious life-altering event.
I hope that you find peace. And I wish I could be as thankful and all believing as you are. You're such an inspiration. Seriously.

Cassi Brightforest said...

Prayers going out to you.. What a strong path you on with God and a testiment to others. Also you will show others God can create mircle healings today

Laura said...

I'm right behind ya, sister!!!!!

and I am going to whip out my rosary beads and say a big ol prayer for you...
a prayer of healing but also a prayer of THANKS...
so awesome that you shared this so openly
because I believe that each and every one of us hides behind a decent amount of shame...
and for no reason
we shouldn't

I am suffering right now from IASAMKADMN...
"I am selfish and my kids are driving me nuts"

hang in there
you have faith and hope
that's more powerful than any pill :-)

Tamera Beardsley said...

Linda, your writings on your journey are so encouraging and inspiring. You travel with such grace an faith and share with such honesty. Thank you for sharing you.

Sending love your way....

Ryan and Camille said...

My first reaction is to be happy! I am joyful in the hope that this new step will bring healing into your life in a completely new way. I didn't know PTSD could be like that either, but it totally makes sense. I will pray for you, starting today, every day for a week. Sending you a hug until i see you again. Thank you for being such a shining example for me in your life, in so many ways.

Heather said...

You are such a courageous women and I sincerely admire your strength. I read happiness in this post and an sense of relief in some ways. You are truly an inspiration to me.

sending love your way.

Jodi said...

I agree with everyone above. And I'm glad you shared! Nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing to be embarrassed of. Much to be inspired and encouraged by. MUCH.

miss phenicie said...

As I was reading your post I got chills because I can relate to so many of your symptoms. I am currently working with a Dr. to figure out what is wrong with me. I just want to thank you for sharing your story, it inspired me and made me realize that I am not alone.

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