PTSD Info You Need to Know

PTSD is real. It isn’t in their heads. They can’t just shake it off. Just because you can’t see their invisible wounds doesn’t mean they aren’t wounded. If you know or think you know someone suffering from PTSD, take time to ask, “Are you ok?”

Then listen.  

We are victorious in our PTSD fight every day that we keep going! Every day that we wake up and start the fight again. Every time we get back up after falling flat on our faces.

You will not beat us PTSD!

(Photo credit from heartsmovingmountains.com) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

I would love to connect with you on Facebook or Instagram at My Pink Champagne Life or Twitter @MyPinkChampLife. Swing by and say hello!

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PTSD Awareness Month

June is PTSD Awareness Month and though we live it 365 days a year, I realize that unless you know someone with this “disorder” you may not know very much about it.

I’m going to try my best to explain in bits and pieces throughout the month what my family goes through on a daily basis; I can only tell our story though. PTSD (I loathe the D for “disorder”-it’s actually a very normal response to trauma and we need to stop making people feel bad about this) is different for each person. 

In our case, Mr. Wonderful came back with his souvenir from fighting in the OEF wartime theater. That’s Operation Enduring Freedom. This means he saw bad things he doesn’t like to talk about, has a certain amount of survivor’s guilt for coming back when some of his buddies didn’t, and had to flail about on his own with no treatment for nearly thirteen years.

PTSD has taken on different forms at various times in our family:

-disconnection and lack of empathy

-rage and misplaced anger

-agoraphobia

-extreme depression 

-isolation

-suicidal thoughts and tendencies

This is just the tip of the PTSD iceberg. There is no cure, no one medicine, nothing that will permanently end Mr. Wonderful’s suffering. 

But we press on. And we press in. To our faith and each other. We work on managing the symptoms as best we can. We attend doctors appointments, do therapy, and try to instill healthy coping mechanisms and lifestyle choices in ourselves and our kids.

We fall down. We get back up. We try to use gratitude a lot: it’s hard for negativity to exist when you’re being glad about something. And we know what works (mostly) and what doesn’t. 

Our journey over the last three years, especially before we got the PTSD diagnosis, has not been easy.

But we have been learning how to celebrate in the midst of the storm, to throw up our hands and dance in the rain and wait for the promised rainbow.

(Photo credit Heathershelpers.org) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

I would love to connect with you on Facebook and Instagram at My Pink Champagne Life or Twitter @MyPinkChampLife. Swing by and say hello!

Memorial Day

I hope that as people are enjoying a day off work or going to barbecues or swimming in pools for the first time this season they are also remembering. 

 

To all our fallen soldiers and their families, you are not forgotten. Your sacrifice is remembered and held dear and we salute you today.

(Photo credit lovethispic.com) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Sharing Your Story

Everywhere I turn there is something about PTSD today. Good information, good people sharing hard things. I have to admit this makes me a little weepy. It makes me feel things.

I’m usually all about feeling things and as a generous oversharer I am no stranger to telling our story with emotion. However, this new chapter of our story, the one about PTSD, is the hardest to tell. Maybe because we’re still on the journey. Maybe because we barely survived parts of it. Maybe because for awhile, I couldn’t find the strength to talk about it; I was using all of my strength just to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other to try and protect our babies from seeing behind the curtain.

This story of hurt and shame and pain and worry and fear must be handled delicately. I have to parse out bits and pieces as I can. My dear Mr. Wonderful served our country and came home with PTSD, or The Mad Cow as we call it. And to be respectful of where he is in his healing, and where I am in mine, I must dance around and through the darkest days we’ve faced as a couple.

Our story hasn’t been woven into completion yet; therefore, you’re only going to get the parts I am able to talk about right now. I hope as you read this and my future pieces on PTSD, that you keep foremost in your mind that we are working hard for healing, that Mr. Wonderful doesn’t deserve anything other than praise for his bravery and efforts and that this is all really hard.

Please go easy on us.

Being open and vulnerable in a concrete way like writing things down and sharing them is terrifying when you have some seriously deep wounds. Writing alone is like the picking of scabs. But the more we tell our story, the closer we come to healing. And maybe the more hope we can give someone who has yet to find their way out of that dark place.

I’m not sure how much I can talk about yet. Let’s just say 2013 was the year everything went to hell in a hand basket. I was pregnant with our fourth child and Mr. Wonderful was slowly losing his grip on his, at the time, undiagnosed PTSD. And then he lost his grip all together. 

Watching a loved one self destruct right before your eyes is both surreal and excruciating. Time slows down, each moment taking up the space a week occupies when you’re trying to keep a loved one alive. As for my part of our story, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I was just trying to stay pregnant, trying to keep my kids fed and doing my best to make sure Mr. Wonderful didn’t kill himself or someone else.

He became so unrecognizable to me during that time that it felt like I was living with a sad, numb, angry, scary and unpredictable stranger. 

The PTSD gave him such terrible nightmares that he didn’t want to sleep. So he would drink to be able to sleep. He would drink to function. He would drink to forget. The on-base doctor prescribed pills for anxiety and depression but mixing the pills with the alcohol became a near fatal recipe. Which led to a near fatal suicide attempt. Someday I will write more in depth about these things. But for now, I’ve picked at these scabs to the point of bleeding again and it’s just too much.

We have come a long way by the grace of God. In one minute, my life could’ve been so different. And I am happy to say that we’re not where we used to be. We’re not finished with this journey but we’re moving forward and on the mend. And I’m grateful for every day I get to wake up next to Mr. Wonderful and see my kids and my little miracle baby. And I know that somehow, in some way, our story is going to bring someone hope in their darkest hour.

Gratitude, trust, prayer, faith-our family wouldn’t be possible without all of this. Thank you for reading this, and if you know someone who may be suffering from PTSD, please share this and the suicide hotline number below. Tell them not to give up. And don’t you give up on them either because there is always hope. We don’t need to lose anyone else.

1-800-273-8255 (America’s National Suicide Prevention Hotline)

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015