This post has been in my drafts folder for a few weeks. I started it at a time when I was not really in the right frame of mind to be writing about stress. For the moment, my head is a little clearer. But, knowing the stress level in my house can change in an instant, I figured I better get this one out there before something changes.
There are a ton of websites out there devoted to PTSD. I pulled the following symptom list off of Medline. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000925.htm
Symptoms of PTSD fall into three general categories:
1. Repeated "reliving" of the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity
Recurrent distressing memories of the event
Recurrent dreams of the event
Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be recurring
Bodily reactions to situations that remind them of the traumatic event
Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
Lack of interest in normal activities
Feelings of detachment
Sense of having no future
Emotional "numbing", or feeling as though they don’t care about anything
Reduced expression of moods
Staying away from places, people, or objects that remind them of the event
Irritability or outbursts of anger
Exaggerated response to things that startle them
Hypervigilance (click here for a definition)
Let me start by saying that I was never officially diagnosed with PTSD. I was never medicated for it either. But, boy did I ever need it!
When Paige was in the NICU I didn't get to see her every day. We lived 90 minutes away and only had one car (I gave up my company car knowing I was not going back to work). I sat at home in a constant state of anxiety. When the phone would ring I would almost lose consciousness from the fear that it was the hospital on the other end. During the times when we would go see her , on the weekends (we stayed near the hospital on the weekends) or sometimes at night, I would just sit and stare at her. Not only were the monitors incredibly loud (40 bed NICU) but the helicopter landing was above the NICU. Every time we went up to see her, she had a different tube or wire attached to her. We would sit there for hours.
How did I cope? Tylenol 3 with codine. Yep, I admit it. I hardly used the meds after my c-section but sure abused them after I recovered. My doc had no problem giving them to me and I sure had no problem taking them. Right before Paige came home (after 78 days in the NICU) hubby started questioning my intense need for them. By that time I was mostly taking them at night to help me sleep but who the hell was he to tell me that I had a problem? (ummm, my caring husband, that's who) Every time I tried to fall asleep without them, I could hear all of the NICU noise. I would cry myself to sleep.
After Paige came home I was in a constant state of having to be in control in order to silence my anxiety. I questioned everything that was told to me. It was made worse when I caught a dosing mistake on Paige's meds. That put me over the deep end. I felt that I needed to double check everything or Paige would die. I couldn't leave her with anyone for fear that something would happen to her and I wouldn't be there to save her.
It's no wonder why hubby and I were struggling to connect!
One day Paige's OT told me that she had heard about how preemie parents were more at risk (than parents of full term typical kids) for PTSD. I guess I saw it as a sign of weakness. "That's not me. Look how in control I am." On the inside I was drowning. At the time there wasn't much on the internet so I had no way of being validated for the way I was feeling.
The stress was doing a number on my GI system. We couldn't go anywhere because I didn't know when I was going to need to go to the bathroom.
The stress was doing number on my muscles too. I hurt everywhere.
I was not living. I was simply existing.
Like I said above, I was never medicated for it. Had there been others (on line) who were admitting to suffering from PTSD, I would have jumped in and said, "me too." and gotten help. But, no one was talking about it. I am so glad that people are opening up and getting help now.
I am doing fine now but every once in a while it creeps up on me and takes a hold of my world.
PTSD has been discussed on a previous post titled Silence. Please check out the comments section. Many people took the time to discuss their own situations and provide links to research.