learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Tag: ptsd

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.

The Dark Night

Sometimes, it feels like you’re stuck in this unending dark night. There are no stars to guide you. There is no moon to light the way. You are stuck in a painful, soul rending darkness that no one else can see. The world is moving around you like you are not even there, alone, stuck in torment.

You feel not worthy of life. You feel unworthy of love. You feel a burden upon any who know you and like they would be so, so much better off in the long run if you were just gone.

It’s tempting. Walking so far into that night that you never return is so, so tempting. It seems a solution for a pain that will not ebb. It seems the best way to handle that which you cannot adequately put into words. You feel like no one will listen, no one will care, and no one will understand.

You’ve reached out. You’ve been called crazy. Unstable. Broken. Wrong. You’ve had people roll their eyes at you, shove you away, blow off your words when you try to express your pain; your needs.

The moments come where you feel like there is no choice. This is it. All else is hopeless, you might as well let go by any means possible. Just end it. There is no fanfare, no loud cry for help… The moment just comes.

It came for me twice.

The first time it came, I sat in a bathroom convinced that the abuse would never end. I would always be knocked down, beat up and for all intents and purposes no more than a tool for those in my life. I was to be used, and that was it. I held no worth, I deserved no dignity. But my friends, dear friends I hold precious and close to this day, didn’t know exactly what the situation was yet still they reached out. They shined a light into my dark night, and slowly the guided me first to safety and eventually to a place where I could see, breathe and be again.

The years that lead to that first episode and the years that followed did damage. This damage accumulated, weighing down the fragile system I had for coping with the world around me. The year following the birth of my son, I could not find up. I could not find any which way out of that dark night once more. It was so much worse this time. It was so painful, everything around me was filled with terror; with the anticipation of violence soon to come. My son would be taken away. I was not deserving of him. I was not a good mother. I hurt my son. I should never have had my son. How dare someone like me ever have a child.

My mind was, and sometimes still is, my most vicious enemy.

The little boy I feared so much surrounding was the one to save me. It was early into my pregnancy that I swore I would never leave him to feel abandoned as I often did. He would always feel loved, wanted and cherished. It was so hard to find my footing, to know how to be a good person for him.

So I called my doctor. Of all people.

And I got help.

I got help despite those who spoke ill of it, and that appointment was the day the light came back once more.

It would be a lie for me to tell the world that life is perfect. It is not. I struggle with complex PTSD every day. It’s part of my natural operating system now. It comes with heavy depression sometimes, but I have a shining little face that drags me back even when I feel like I might not want to be. I am lucky.

Not everyone is. Not everyone can find their light again. Depression is a vicious, terrible mental illness which is often blown off in terms of how severe it can impact a person. Suicidal thoughts, no matter what the condition is that leads one to them, are no joke.

You are worth it. You are worthy. There really is at least one thing to live for, if not so many, many more. There is help. If you feel yourself slipping into that dark night, please call 1-800-273-8522 – It is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Let their staff help you, or reach out to someone you trust that can direct you towards assistance. You aren’t alone. People will listen, and they will care.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. In the words of Aladdin: “Genie, you are free.”

Stupid Depression

Another off topic one. I’m starting to wonder if I should just stop calling them that and figure if it happens anywhere on the planet, to anyone, it’s free game to be an on topic matter for the blog.


Depression is a bitter, rotten, awful and frustrating part of my life. It’s not major depression. Despite what some people in my life have believed, I am not even close to unhappy all of the time. I hit these funks, usually surrounding an episode with my PTSD, and they’re just dehabilitating. They feel mentally how my body felt physically post surgery.

It’s like one day you’re moving along, everything going as things go, nothing too bad or too great but everything seeming calm and peaceful. Then, in the blink of an eye, something happens that you may or may not be able to notice and boom, there’s this massive weight pinning you down. You can’t escape it, you’re bone tired all of the time, your experiences feel muted and dull… Everything seems sad and lonely and heartbreaking despite the fact most of it is likely anything but.

I hate it. I hate every minute of it.

But it’s not something one can flip a switch on. That has to be the single most frustrating thing, having people be like “cheer up” or “be more positive”… I can glue on all the smiles in the world and lie through my teeth feigning a perky demeanor all I want, it’s not changing what’s going on in my brain. It does, in fact, make it worse. It makes me feel even more broken, having to lie to the world and make everyone else see a falsehood as truth so they don’t get their feathers ruffled.

This sucks, but this is part of being me. This is part of who I am. It’s hard wired into my brain much like some pretty wild things are hard wired into my son. I can’t conveniently edit it out or hide it away because the rest of the world around me might feel awkward about it, I have to just live with it and ride it out when it happens. Sometimes, it’s a few days. Sometimes, it’s longer. Sometimes, it’s barely any time at all. Just as there can be little warning for when it will occur there can be just as little warning for when the weight lifts and the elusive sense of “normal” returns.

Meanwhile, life must and does still go on. Tomorrow, I take J to get his cast removed hopefully. Next week, he begins his first school year. The 14th of September is our Charity Yard Sale. There’s a lot going on and whether or not my body and mind can keep up I have to keep trucking onwards. It’s just a lot harder some days than it is others.


Just a note to those who read and who know me out in the real world: I am okay, I promise. As Shrek says, stuff is “better out than in” sometimes and this blog is my cheap therapy. I am always touched by the care and concern you show me but never want  you to worry. 🙂

Having a Sad

Hey, internet: I’m having a sad right now. Hear me out?

I’ve mentioned before that I live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is an intense, complex thing to live with and it is something that may always be a spectre hovering over my life. I am not secretive about having it but I am selective on letting out the details as to why I have it.

This leads to today’s post.

At least three times at various medical points of care in the past month I have been asked why I have PTSD. There has never been context to this beyond exploring my medical history. It’s never been couched as a concern to make sure that my medical care did not cause a triggering event to it, it’s just been bluntly thrown at me and shaken me badly enough that I am sitting here writing this on the fly before I go pick up little boy.

This isn’t cool, people. You wouldn’t ask someone with depression or whatnot why they have depression or what have you. You see it on the page, you acknowledge it, you move on right? So why is it okay to ask someone with PTSD why they have it? Isn’t that in and of itself inviting a reopening of traumas?

I have enough struggle dealing with professionals in these capacities as it is. Let’s not make it any harder than it need be, okay world? Please? Thanks.


There is a sad thing I fear that I am going to be now sharing with the survivors, witnesses and first responders of this past week in Boston and that is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I write this to all of you.

There are many hard things I have done in my life but I count trying to explain the major disconnect; the major fear, terror and agony going on in my brain as one of the hardest. Sure, the media portrays PTSD in simplistic fashion, showing flashbacks to events that caused trauma, and that’s a very bare bones way of showing the truth of PTSD features but it’s not the whole story.

The fear, the anxiety, the horror, the everything you lived through in those moments that caused you such damaging terror can come back to haunt you in ways you least expect. They can sneak back into your world on a clear sunny day where one detail can spark your mind’s return to those moments. You’re physically operating in the here, now, today of things but your mentally operating in the fear response of those horrifying moments, reacting to situations that are now ghosts haunting your memory. Your brain does not know how to let go of that response and like an engine stuck in gear, it remains there, holding you captive in a moment you logically do not for anything in this whole world want to relive.

That is how it is for me. That is how I spent years of my life living. It took the birth of my son and reactions I had in the year after it to realize what I was even doing. It took me too long, way too long, to get help. I did not have the support I needed, in some cases because I did not know how to ask, in other cases because I believed that in all truth I was simply broken.

This is not what I want for you. 

I want you to be free. I want you to face the trauma that occured, in your time and fashion, and I want to see you come through on the other side changed but strong. I want to see you supported and carried through so long as you need those shoulders to lean on. I want you to know that it is so very okay to ask for help; to ask for someone to talk it out with. You are not less of a man or woman for asking it but instead better and stronger for it.

Heal your bodies and also, heal your minds. You deserve that. Life will never be the same, or like it never happened, but it will go on, and it will get better. Tomorrow may be hard, and so may many tomorrows to come, but each can and will get easier.

And if you need someone to hold your hand or to listen to you when you’re scared in the dark of night or even if you just want a stranger who will not judge you for your fears, reactions and emotions right now… Hey. I’m here. My email is galebird(at)gmail.com. 

My thoughts and prayers are with all of those touched by the Boston Marathon bombings, the explosion in West, Texas, and the other tragedies that unfold around the world. 

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