learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Mental Basketcases

So I do not make any secret that I have PTSD, and that it’s a constant struggle and learning curve much like learning to work with J-Bear’s autism. Unfortunately, unlike J-Bear’s autism, it’s a lot more insidious. When J-Bear struggles we all know he struggles. When my PTSD flips out, it’s very hard for people outside my own house – and sometimes even for them – to know it’s doing so.

This is written proof that I can say it’s being difficult, and that’s putting it gently.

I am not in danger, the people around me are not in danger, etc. I spent years being told I was nothing but a horrible human being, mostly due to the struggles I have with mental illness. Strange, only this one person has ever called me these terrible things but until I had at least some control over my mental state, I believed this clown. The scars that added to scars that already ran deep ache whenever I find myself struggling. I get fearful to confess that I am having a very, very hard time. I get scared that I will immediately be gaslighted or worse, ridiculed and mocked into dust.

That person isn’t even around, nor are the people most responsible for me having PTSD in the first place, yet I still fear. It’s hard to explain why.

When things are high stress within my home, I get jumpy in ways that seem strange. My mind has already decided, based on years of living in a situation where this was often the case, that everything is going to fall apart if I do not keep every ball perfectly in the air. Violence, verbal or physical or both, is going to rain down at any moment and it will be all my fault. Is it something that I could even control? Doesn’t matter. It’d be my fault.

So you can imagine that things are a little stressful right now. They aren’t bad per se, they are just hard. We’ve added the equivalent of a new child to our home. This requires an intense adjust in routine as well every one of us adjusting to what every other person/dog around us needs. It’s different and when J is in school our routine is working great thus far. We have one more component to add, and then we’ll be good for a regular school year routine for a while… Probably in time for vacation, of course.

The moment I start to try to add in other things most people take for granted, I start to fall apart. I am failing. I am going to be in trouble, my mind screams. Everyone is going to be mad at me. I am going to be mocked, derided, and so on. Note however that the truth of this ever happening is unlikely to be true – Most if not all of my friends and family understand, but my brain has a very very hard time acknowledging that. When J screamed at his godmother and lost it in a restaurant tonight I thought I was going to fall to pieces right there. I could not see that it wasn’t my, or anyone’s, fault. It wasn’t his best day, and that happens… but my focus wasn’t strong enough to drag the thought train back onto the correct track. It was all I could do not to sink into a total panic attack.

We made it through dinner, but I am still shaken.

I am scared of the holiday season. I am scared of the pressure and expectations. Brooklyn will not be perfect, and she should not have to be yet. Her manners should be good, the training she has will fall into place over time to gel into exactly what we need in every regard from her. J-Bear will be J-Bear, relating to the world on his terms and that is right and good, but not always immediately understood or accepted by people we engage with. I will need down time to just breathe, but with deadlines for various get togethers and other things weighing heavy panic wants to take over and incapacitate me.

I am trying, but it is very, very hard right now. I have emergency “reset button” medication that helps calm me down so I sleep (exhaustion makes it SO much harder to cope!) but I try to take it as little as possible. When you come from a long line of addicts, it’s scary to take medication that could be badly addicting so I am as sparing with it as I can get away with.

I guess this is me asking for forgiveness and also offering apology. I don’t mean to fall apart, but I do, and I need room to breathe and to be okay in and of myself too. There’s nothing scarier to me than admitting that and opening myself up to potential cruel judgement but to not be truthful about it would be to go against everything I’ve written and the tone of this blog. This is my life, and part of life with J.


  1. Mary Smith

    For many, the holidays are stressful, not the Rockwell image. Just try to remember that you are in a good place now, with many family members and friends who sincerely care about you. It is always acceptable to excuse yourself from the room if things overwhelm you. Being open and honest with those around you, as you are, should be helpful to yourself and those around you. Love, Mary

  2. Mandy Krahenbuhl

    Quack, I have PTSD too and understand the complexities…I experience and relate SO much to what you have written here! Don’t forget I am a mental health therapist now…and for you I will ALWAYS be on-call 24/7 call my cell at anytime you need it 920-639-5611 LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!! Mandy

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