Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Post Traumatic Stress

I saw my Carer Support Worker the other day. I haven't seen her in quite a long time, so there was an aspect of my demeanour which was very noticeable to her - she said I am less angry than before. She's right. I'm not sure when it happened. I suppose it's been a gradual process, but I definitely feel less angry than I did before. On the other hand, I feel I am struggling more with anxiety.

Now, I know previously I deleted all the posts relating to my own mental health, or parts of posts where I had described how I felt, but that was mainly due to the confusion I was feeling at the time and the fact that people were trivialising how I was feeling. But there's no point in denying it any longer because it is obvious for all to see - Mr Man has recovered from our ordeal better than I have. Interestingly, my Carer Support Worker tells me that this is not uncommon.

I have expressed on this blog before (and then deleted it) that I feel I am suffering from a form of Post Traumatic Stress. Some health workers agree that it is a possibility, whilst others won't even entertain the idea - probably because it would mean admitting the substandard care that Mr Man received, which put his life in danger and which caused me a great deal of anxiety. I don't want to enter into a debate over symptoms and who is right or wrong, but the fact is that I am "not right" and I haven't been "right" since 2002 when Mr Man was admitted. Frustratingly, I still get asked about my childhood. I don't understand how people can think that caring for someone you love, who was in danger of killing themselves at any moment over a period of several years, is not traumatic enough to cause PTS - and especially given that when he was in the care of others I had no way of protecting him and those caring for him didn't take the danger seriously. Honestly? Is it just too obvious to be true? Does it have to be something buried deep within my subconsciousness from my childhood?

I watched "Dolphin Boy" tonight. Obviously this is an extreme case of Post Traumatic Stress and disassociation, but I could relate to some of the boy's feelings. The rage, the confusion, the avoidance, and the desire to live in a "bubble". It was a long process of four years before he was able to go back home and live a normal life again. My symptoms are obviously much less severe than his, but with no real help to work through my emotions, I am still struggling nine years later. I know I can't be the only one.


TAAAF said...

You feel what you feel.

It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, you have a right to your feelings. No-one can understand it unless they themselves have been through it.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you TAAAF.

rrncliae said...

I certainly don't know all of the details - but the anxiety and worry that comes along with caring for someone you love who you feel is in real danger, i can relate to. And the frustration of feeling that no one else cares. I can't say that I've suffered from PTS, but I would never, NEVER, doubt that it was impossible given your situation. Very few can understand the great weight that is carried on the shoulders of one who cares for someone with a mental illness, schizophrenia in particular - or any illness for that matter, physical or mental. I salute you for your hard work, sleepless nights, and endless care for your husband. God bless.

Smitty said...

Well, you may still have a sensitivity, a predisposition to experience your husband's crisis as traumatic. Where someone else might not have been triggered at all.

I say this, because there are some people who have experienced what I have who don't seem to focus on the trauma at all, which is quite amazing. I think I am more sensitive than most, and I do believe I had some kind of event in child hood that set the ground for me to perceive things as I do.

My husband had loving parents, supportive, non-critical, non-shaming. His only crisis in childhood was falling on his head. Thankfully he recovered and has had a healthy, though stressful, professional life. I took on his stress and had a breakdown in 1991. Then, I had another breakdown in 2003, 2004 and 2005. I am convinced that these events did not cause PTSD for HIM.

But, I feel the illness itself.... can be its own sort of PTSD. And I feel that the way the medical community deals with psychosis is not all that conducive to healing it. I find the lack of compassion in the hospitals, and the over-reliance on medication over good old common sense love... contributes to my fear of recurrence.

Recently I have made peace with my vulnerability. But I think it helped me to admit and accept that I have been traumatized... and then finding new ways to nurture MYSELF... to get over it. I need people and I have found good support in my 12-step communities. Emotions Anonymous and Al-anon... and learning to practice meditation and look at the stories I am telling myself. When I tell myself stories of alienation... I feel insecure. When I realize that I will always find good people for mutual support, I find the peace that passes understanding.

And that peace, heals...

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Rrncliae and Smitty.

Smitty, I actually find that I can't bear to be with people all the time now. If I have a day that involves people, I need time alone to recharge. People drain me. I rarely find them supportive at all. I usually feel that they want something from me. But I was very sociable before all of this.

I do find it strange that what is traumatic for one person, isn't for another.