Wednesday, December 15, 2010

PTSD- my journey to becoming whole again.

I've been meeting with my therapist on a weekly basis. As time has progressed, things haven't necessarily gotten worse with me, they have just become different.

Right after Joshua died, my sessions were focused on getting through the pain and shock of his death, trying not to pay attention to the attacks on our family, and making sure that my husband and kids were taken care of. I had to work my way through the mild flashbacks and trouble falling asleep. 

A few weeks after Joshua's death, my sessions became more focused on the grief itself. Trying to navigate the dark and scary waters of grief. Dealing with brand new emotions that I haven't ever had to deal with before. Trying to figure out who I am amongst the grief and learning how to be a stay at home mom for the first time in my 4+ years of being a mother. (including how to be a mother to a child that I would never physically be a mother to again.)

Recently, my sessions have focused on dealing with the awful world of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). The flashbacks of Joshua dying, suck me in in intense and scary ways. This world, the real world, doesn't exist during a flashback. I'm right back at the NICU the morning Joshua died. I can smell, taste, feel, see, hear, experience everything in that world.

The details of that world inside my head are vivid and alive. I can see the patterns of the nurses' scrubs. I can smell Joshua's hair. I can feel his hands. I can taste the gum in my mouth that day. (a flavor I will never be able to chew again.) I can feel my eyes, puffy from crying. I can feel his last breath exiting his body, the tiny twitches of life leaving his body one last time. I am in the room- syringes, alcohol pads, wrappers, rubber gloves strewn about like a war zone. I experience the sounds of the monitors going off, the doctors and nurses yelling for the crash cart. The sound of feet running across the NICU to try to save my baby. I can see my phone fumbling around in my hands as I send a quick text to facebook and blogger- doing the only thing I know to do- get people praying. All of that is real during my flashbacks. I am right back IN those moments.

I don't know when the flashbacks are going to come. I don't realize when I'm in midst of one, for all I know, I am back at that day, and I don't know that Joshua is going to die. It isn't until something jerks me out of the world in my head that I realize what happened. And after I'm back to the real world, I am drained and emotional for the rest of the day. I literally relieve that last hour in my head. I experience the loss over and over. When I enter into that world, I don't know that Joshua is going to die, but I quickly find out.

I've only had 2 flashbacks over the past week and a half. I have felt a few coming on, but knew how to prevent them. I have shared with my family and friends, ways to help keep my mind from going to that world (basically engaging all of my senses and talking about THIS world to keep me from going to THAT world.)

As I continue to navigate the world of healing and as I work to figure out how to live with the pain of Joshua's death, I'm also exploring entirely new and foreign worlds of suffering. Unfortunately, the world of PTSD is now part of my world. Now it's just trying to figure out ways to work past it and allowing room for God's healing hand to touch my life and help me become whole again.

17 comments:

The Price Family! said...

Just wanted you to know that I think about you and your family daily. I continue to pray for you. I pray God will give you the strength to get through day to day challanges. ~prayers going up in SC~

Stefenie said...

Praying for you Jill as you continue to navigate through your grief.

Heather said...

Thinking and praying for you and your family. I am so deeply sorry.

Liss@Random said...

Jill, I have to say that I'm so proud of you for seeking the help you need, accepting it and being so open about it. PTSD is a very scary thing, and a very difficult mental health issue to explain to people, much less have them accept. I pray that you will continue in your healing journey, even if it sometimes feels that you're not making any progress. I am inspired by reading your tweets and posts, at how you're doing one day at a time. Be blessed! I love you! Continue to be a testimony of God's ability to keep and to heal, because you already are one. :)

Anonymous said...

I had flash backs with a tramatic time in my life, and I focused for a long time on how I would do things differently. Then God changed me, and helped me, and I learned to accept it, and thing of it differently. Do you think if you changed your thoughts to you handing him to the Lord, how safe he felt in his mothers arms, and how much he loved your warm breast and arms around him as he went to peace... would help you bare your burden better.
I'm so sorry.

The Real Life of a Red Head said...

anonymous- that is a great way to think about it. i haven't really thought about changing my thinking about the moment he died. it never really crossed my mind. Maybe I need to look at it from his perspective and remind myself how safe he must have felt. i already know my next topic of conversation with my therapist. Thank you! :o)

Beth W. said...

continuing to pray for you Jill. I was up from about 12:30 till almost 2 this morning. I couldn't get back to sleep, so I prayed for you. I specifically prayed for you in regards to your flashbacks. I can't wait till we get to meet and I can pray with you then. Love ya sister!!

Carolina Carters said...

Always praying for you...

~Shannon

Peach said...

Maybe try a sozo? It's a type of spiritual counselling that allows you to find Jesus in the moment of such traumatic pain.

My husband had to go through it to heal the pain and scars he faced years after he witnessed his dad died at the age of 13 in their living room.

We're still praying for your family, even if sometimes I don't know what to put down in the comments we don't forget about you guys.

Love and Hugs,
Peach and Drummer

Kari said...

Anonymous, what a beautiful way to describe Joshua's passing.

Jill, still praying.

Joel's mommy.

Anonymous said...

My friend's son passed away this June. She, too, suffers from horrific flashbacks that knock everything out of her.

I wish there were magical words that could take your pain away and hers; unfortunately, I cannot find them.

Hugs and love to you.

Carla Sue said...

*hugs* Maybe I'll call you more often. Then, at least, I can distract you for a few extra moments. And when your phone bill comes, you'll definately be distracted. I love you Jill.

Heather said...

I never know what to say, but something is better than nothing. I just want you to know that I am thinking of you and am sending you prayers of peace and love. You are not alone, although it is a very lonely path you must take. May God carry you through your lonesome valley.

The Cox Family said...

Having been the nurse in these types of situations, I am learning so much for you. I never really thought about having flashbacks or how people deal with such a difficult situation. I am learning how to help families through you and your journey. Thank you for being brave enough to share. We are praying for you.

Christine the ArizonaIntactivist said...

I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone...I understand the world of PTSD...

Mama to Monkeys said...

Jill, I am so, so sorry that you are living with PTSD. It is probably the worst torture one's mind can inflict upon itself.

I too have PTSD due to an incident involving my child, but very different circumstances. I want you to know that I am here to acknowledge your bravery for even speaking about your PTSD because I know how even thinking about it can be a trigger. It took me close to 6 months of torture before I was able to share with my husband and counselor what was going on. I now simply refer people to the DSM-IV and say "see that list? I had it all". It never 100% goes away, but it sure does get better and better with time, treatment, and patience.

My journey led me to EMDR therapy coupled with talk therapy. EMDR and my talk therapist saved my life, saved my sanity. I hope that in whichever therapeutic journey you find yourself walking that it brings you the same relief and solace that mine did for me.

Blessings to you.

Meagan @ The Happiest Mom said...

This was really heart-wrenching to read. I can't imagine. Big, big hugs to you.

 
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