Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how it has effected my life…

Hello, all.  I know it has been quite a long time since I have last posted here, and I apologize.  There have been SO many things going on over the last two years and I am finally ready to “talk” about it.

In my last blog post, I mentioned PTSD and some of the things I had been experiencing in connection to that. Well, about two weeks after that blog post, I was diagnosted with CPTSD.  That’s Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What makes it complex, you ask? Well, first PTSD is contacted when a person experiences a traumatic event that causes flashbacks, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and various related symptoms. The complex part comes when a person experiences multiple traumatic events, each of which causing PTSD by themselves. What sometimes happens is I’m triggered by something & I begin having flashbacks from one of the traumatic events, which in turn triggers flashbacks from another traumatic event. So, basically, the flashbacks can piggy back on each other, if you will. It’s like reliving each trauma all at once. It’s scary as fuck, let me tell you.

Then, about a month and a half after my diagnosis, my mother was diagnosed with mandibular cancer that metastasized to her head and neck.

I was in school at the time, working, dealing with how to cope with my triggers, learning about my own disability, and then trying to figure out how to cope with my mother’s diagnosis. Things didn’t go very well.

Before my mother could begin her radiatin & chemotherapy treatments, she had two or three surgeries…one of which was emergent as she had spontaneously begun hemmorhaging from the tumor site in her jaw.  Things just weren’t going well at all for her, and I had no idea how to help her.  I had no idea how to help myself.

In September of 2015, I dropped all of my classes and took the entire month off of work so I could bring my mother to her radiation and chemotherapy appointments. I was with her as often as I possibly could be, but it still wasn’t enough for those in my immediate family.

Tension built between myself and my siblings & dad. It got to the point where I felt unwanted in my mother’s house. I felt as if I wasn’t allowed to even visit my mother, and God forbit I talk to her about my life.

No one was communicating with me, and I had no idea that her cancer had spread or that she was getting worse. I was spreading myself so thin and no one told me the most important information I needed to know. That hurt like hell.

In October of 2015, my engagement to my fiance ended, and I was forced to live with a friend.  Not a week after living there, he began verbally and emotionally abusing me…especially after a few drinks of whiskey. I had no one to talk to about anything, because my mother was the one I talked to about these things. I was lost, confused, and alone. My sisters weren’t talking to me, and my father threatened to cut me off from my mother’s last days if I continued to tell her what was going on in my life. I had never experienced anything like this before. I had no fucking clue, really, what was expected of me…and I was punished for it.

I began drinking alone in my bedroom and isolating myself from the other cohabitants in the house, except for my son. My son, who is high functioning Autistic, was also a part of the abuse from my roommate…albeit indirectly. He would constantly complain about my son, no matter what he did or didn’t do. I could never do anything right as a parent, either.

No matter where I went or who I spoke with, I was wrong or not good enough. Depression weighed on me and I drank away the pain every night.

Then, on January 25, 2016, my mother passed away. Never have I ever imagined a pain so deep. Depression took me over and I drank…A LOT.

Then, one day around mid February 2016, I decided I was sick of contributing to my own depression. I was, also, sick of feeling extreme anxiety to the point where it made me physically ill. I stopped drinking alcohol & coffee old turkey. Just like that.

Oddly, that was the absolute worst part of my life. As of April 1, 2016, my son and I were homeless. Exactly two months after my mother’s funeral, my son and I were living out of my car and sleeping in a hotel (thank you, tax refund). That only lasted about a week, before a friend of mine offered to pay for another week. Praise Jesus! …but it was only one week, and we were on a waiting list for housing still. I have never been so scared on my life.

At the end of the second week, my very dear friend, Selynda, allowed us to stay with her. She will never understand the gratitude I feel for what she did for my son and I.

To break up all of the depressing parts of life for my son, he stayed with my cousin in Newport for a week. Man, did he have a blast! He hung out with his cousins, learned some boy stuff, and began to grow into a fine young man. During this time, I got the phone call that we had an apartment. FINALLY, a break from it all! Twenty five days of being homeless was coming to an end. Thank, God!!

I surprised him after school the following week, after I had gotten the keys and cleaned it up. (Not a good idea, btw 😉)  Finally, our own place that we could call home. A place to relax and just…be.

All we had for furniture was my son’s twin bunk beds, an end table, a bar, a Hoosier, and a deep freezer. The rest of our belongings were odds and ends, clothes, and boxes I hadn’t gone through in about four years. Everything fit in the apartment…even my 60 gallon fish tank & stand.

I was elated to have my own place, but that ended abruptly one day. I honestly have no idea what happened, or what triggered it, but I just started crying uncontrollably. I cried every day for the first month or so. Then summer began to rear its ugly head and the heat on the third floor became intense quickly.

Before I knew it I was having kidney issues, my son was having difficulty adjusting to everything, and I was ready to throw it all in. Just fucking quit life and die. All of the wrong people were helping me, at this point, and the depression got a hold of me again.

It took me too many months to become aware enough of the situation to do something about it. However, it was getting there. I could see it, but there was soooooo much other crap in the way. I was clawing my way out, suffocating in the dirt on the way out, but I never quit. I never gave up. Not for anyone or anything. Not even for my son.

I did it because I had the support of my friends, and my therapist. I even had my son in my corner, but he was going through a battle of his own…a battle that he couldn’t control. So, I had to be there for him and myself. Then Christmas came. Fuck. My. Life.

My first Christmas without my mother, or really any semblance of a family, and I was unemployed. Oh, and I had received an eviction notice, unless I paid the rent I owed before January first. No idea if or when I would be approved to the disability I had applied for during the summer.

Just before the new year, I got a letter from the VA detailing my disability payment and other pertinent information. In the next envelope was a check for my first payment, which included retroactive pay to the date of my application.

Things were beginning to look up 😊

For the first time since I moved in, I was able to make my rent payment in completion and on time. I was definitely starting 2017 off on a positive note. So, I decided to build on that and gave that one action some serious thought. What else could I do that can set me up for success?

I took care of some small things with the remainder of that VA check (new boots & sneakers, clothes, bills), so I was back to broke…but I felt so much BETTER! I had more energy and my outlook began to change. My thoughts became more positive and my body followed through by being more active and maintaining a good diet.

I’ve been detoxifying my home and my mind, and replacing it with only people and things that bring me joy. I am focusing on joy.

I still go to therapy every week…even when I loathe leaving the house or putting on pants. I still make the choice every single day to be happy and productive. I still fight like hell to maintain peace within my heart, and mind. I still struggle with sleep (although it has improved), and anxiety.  I still struggle. However, I still choose not to let it defeat me. It’s not an easy choice to make when I open my eyes and all I want to do is keep sleeping and allow the day to pass right on by. It’s not an easy choice when I forget about all of the good and positive things that I have in my life…like supportive friends, an amazing son, and the gift of life.

Where am I now? Four sizes smaller, sleeping well most nights, severe drop in depression and anxiety, my son is improving academically & behaviorally, we have furniture, I’m writing consistently, and I’m going back to school this summer. I’d say our lives have done a complete 180 from where we were two years ago. However, in the words of my illustrious sixth grade teacher, Mrs. White, “There’s always room for improvement.”

Life can only get better from here 😊❤🙏