‘I’m a Terrible Mother’ and Other Lies my PTSD Told Me
“I can’t have PTSD”
“I can’t. It’s ridiculous to even think,” I thought as the therapist explained my new diagnosis. But even as those thoughts swirled around in my foggy brain, I knew she was correct. Life had gotten really hard, too hard. You know you’re really struggling when the mere thought of driving somewhere sends you into a spiral. Which won’t allow you to get on the freeway. I could not bring myself to just get on the damn freeway. After that I decided that I needed help, and made a doctors appointment to discuss antidepressants.
Over the next few months I would discover that my situation would require more attention than just new medications. I didn’t want any of it. The idea of taking medication made me angry. Yet again, here was something I couldn’t control. Begrudgingly, I took them, and started to come to out of the fog of anxiety and depression. After a few months I started to see myself a bit clearer. My anger about my “stupid brain that just can’t function properly,” subsided. I felt like I finally started to rebound and feel like my self, then another trauma happened. My life felt open, raw, red and angry. Like trauma was an infection that had never left my body.
Some days your brain seems so messy, so full of pain and fear that it tells you that its all in your head. Your brain tells you things like, “everyone has issues,” and “suck it up, you have other things to do.” But then you get to a place where you can’t do things; eventually your list of “can’t dos” start to pile up. Your life seems to become more and more fragmented, until there is little room left to breathe, relax, or even just be. Part of me never wanted to address my mental health. Once it became real I would have to admit that my childhood trauma was still with me. It was still there making every day just a little darker.
Like a bone that had broken, but never healed right. Sometimes it felt like that trauma was part of another life; someone else’s life. Clearly it wasn’t mine, mine was filled with giggling children, over the top birthdays, and big family holidays. The new trauma had sent me right back to being a child, then it was all right there again. Everything felt different, and my life, my wonderful giggly, family filled life, changed. My life stopped feeling like mine; everything was the same of course, but I was changed. Anxiety overtook my body and I couldn’t see any happiness or a path forward.
I was stuck.
Stuck in my own pain, stuck in my own horrible memories, and reliving those feelings. PTSD is the worst. Admitting and recognizing that you are struggling is all consuming. My brain lied to me during this time, it told me that I wasn’t really struggling, I was just being lazy, just exhausted from the kids. It pointed out all of my flaws, fed on my insecurities, and fueled a such self hated that scared me. I was just a terrible mother, wife, sister, friend, person. Everything that I was and had ever done was not good enough. But the biggest lie it told me was that there is now way forward from this, no relief, just pain. This was just how I was going to be forever.
Luckily, my rational brain kicked in and told myself to get my ass into therapy. So I did. As I start to learn how to resolve my past trauma, I know that there is a way forward. It will be painful, of course. The resetting of wounds always is. But knowing that I will again someday be able to just breathe is such a great feeling.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline