Welcome to PTSD

Understanding the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder doesn’t help to alleviate them, but it’s good to know that others have felt as angry, numb, desperate and insane as oneself.

I wish I’d learned about this earlier, thereby to have avoided lashing out at everyone in my path, but oh well, what’s done is done.

I’m reading a book that explains about triggers – things that reignite the original trauma, making you relive it, over and over again. But I can’t avoid the triggers and I don’t even know which traumatic event to begin with.

Meanwhile, I went to my first meeting of a Bereaved Parents group. Cancer, suicide, it’s all the same agony. We are  each  clinging to our dead child’s mattress. We are all members of an elite group: the walking wounded pariahs whose stories are too awful for civilians.

A nice lady held my hand and gave me her phone number. There are no steps and no Higher power, just the bond of shared grief. I wish the group met more often.   I have problems up ahead, like ordering a gravestone and Mother’s Day. Lucky for me, I have a supportive husband who never says to hurry up and Get Over It.

Today I stared at tumblr images for five hours. I’ve stopped caring about Libya, fashion, and Mrs. Palin.  Sometimes  I sleep in my clothes so I don’t have to get dressed the next day. I even forgot to blog about how I smashed my finger with the trash can and had to have the ENTIRE NAIL REMOVED.

I am still sort of me, though. We watched a new episode of New York Housewives and I cursed at them aloud with the same happy contempt. Is there a German word for that?

*photograph via here.

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31 Responses to “Welcome to PTSD”

  1. Penny Dreadful Vintage Says:

    I never know what to say to you Sister Wolf, but I’m glad you’ve found agroup of women to talk to. It helps to know others are going through the same thing xxx

  2. K-Line Says:

    Sister – all I can do is read about this and give you special love vibes from TO. If it’s any comfort – and I’m sure it’s not – many, many people care for you and give you mental support from wherever they are. Your photos always do such justice to the emotions you’re trying to convey. If communication can help – you’re on the road to moving past crushing grief. I can only imagine, though, that every day is an eternity. xo

  3. Ann Says:

    I’m glad you found a group and glad you’re reading up on PTSD. I also wish the group met more often, it sounds really helpful. Keep trudging forward, Sister. All of us here have your back.

    I love you and am so sorry about your nail!

  4. Jill Says:

    verachtung said with a German accent.

  5. Cricket9 Says:

    Oh, fuck. A smashed nail on top of everything else! Please keep going to the meetings, don’t get discouraged. As Ann said – we have your back. <3 <3 <3

  6. Suebob Says:

    The other day the blogger I, Asshole (I don’t make this stuff up, I just report) used the term “schadenlulz.” I think this may be good for Real Housewives.

  7. MG Says:

    I can’t even imagine what you’re going through but I’m glad that you have a group of others to share your feelings with who do understand. However, Cindy = wtf, Ramona = seriously? and Jill = huge c word…

  8. Aja Says:

    I physically twitched when I read about that smashed finger. Ouch! To echo other’s sentiments, I too am happy you found a support group. xo.

  9. regularstarfish Says:

    I hope that one day life can return to a somewhat livable condition for you. I’m sorry that you have experienced such a loss.

  10. sam Says:

    I don’t have children and never will have, but for a few moments every day or so I read your blog and I think I maybe get a sense of something that gets a little bit closer to understanding/imagining the pain you are going through.
    Of course though I will never really know.
    In a whole world of suffering and without even having met you I spend a little bit of time thinking about your pain and empathising.
    This post is the most encouraging so far in terms of you trying to get through life saddled with what has happened and I feel genuine happiness when I imagine you finding support and shouting at the TV.
    As for your nail – ouch!
    And by the way you don’t need to worry about Libya, Mrs Palin & fashion, we’ll do that.

  11. Make Do Style Says:

    PTSD is horrific Рbreak it down into 3 parts Рseparation ( end of first marriage Рall the memories from that which passed until now), trauma (the initial shock of Max and the fall with all the resulting care/arguing/fighting with medical world/insurance) then finally loss and grief. The shock of suicide, the realisation that his so called fianc̩e was culpable to some extent Рputs it all in context.

    You know what fashion, Palin & Libya can all look after themselves through others – you concentrate on you, be part of the group – we all wish we could hold you hand.

    And a big hello and thank you to Mr Wolf for being so supportive xx

  12. betina Says:

    you have to watch the movie Rabit Hole

  13. Kelly Says:

    I work at Children’s Hospital LA. So it’s everyday and heartbreaking even if it’s not my kid.

    In addition, I am a big believer that long-term grief is an entirely rational response. Xxoo.

  14. patni Says:

    The PTSD can get better. I had it for years. It was really really comforting to me to know i was not the only one. I read a book called Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman. She traces the symptoms back as far as accounts of post war problems that roman soldiers had. She did a multi year study. I guess i was lucky in that the free hospital where I live was where she was based, and I had a therapist who was doing a post doc on PTSD with her. The program is called Victims of Violence. It did amazing things to me. It took a long while, but it worked.

  15. patni Says:

    It also gave me a weird understanding into my grandad, who was an ace in the first world war, and I don’t think ever recover. I think such things were hard for European men of his generations. He did not express emotion, and just built a big wall. I had watched the wall crumble a few times, and as an adult, I think I finally understood him. He had the same symptoms as i had, although his came from being a pilot in the last years of the first world war, and mine came from being married.

  16. Dave C Says:

    I’m so glad you’ve found a support group. As Penny Dreadful says, it’s difficult to know what to say to someone with your level of grief when what you really need is other people who truly understand your pain (rather than us internet folk who can only do our best to empathise). I must also add that Mister Sister Wolf sounds pretty damn amazing as well.

  17. Catherine Says:

    I never know what to say to you either other than you are amazing. I’m so happy to hear of your experience with the group and that you can still “hate on” those horrid housewives. Your husband sounds like a saint and it’s wonderful he’s giving you all the time you need. I don’t pray but think of you and Max often and how happy I am to know about you both.

    Please tell us about the fingernail when you’re ready.

  18. sheri Says:

    I think it was in Eat, Pray, Love, where the author was mourning the end of her marriage to such an extent that she didn’t feel like she could even function any more, so she went and sat on an Indonesian beach every day for weeks and didn’t speak until she felt like she had a) listened to all of what the voices in her head had to say and b) actually had something to say.

    I’ve thought of doing this — just taking myself off somewhere, completely away/alone, and just wallowing in my own sorrows and losses and grief until I just couldn’t stand it any more, at which point I would be ready to stand up and walk away from them, leaving them squirming in shadows on the beach behind me.

    Another favorite moment from E,P,L, is when she’s on the floor in the middle of the night, weeping, and this voice in her head says “go back to bed, Liz.” And she realizes later that this was her own best, yet-to-be realized self, telling her that she didn’t need to solve all of it right now, but just do this one small thing that she really needed to, and could, do, and that was to get some sleep.

    I don’t mean to get all New-Agey on you, like I just threw up crystals and Ommmm all over your blog, but I wonder sometimes if just finding that one small thing that you can do, one day at a time, can help. And that group should help, too.

    Meanwhile, Mother’s Day will suck — I wonder if knowing that ahead of time helps at all in that at least you aren’t blindsided. I’m sure you were a wonderful mother to Max, and are a wonderful mother to his brother. That will always be true, and I hope is some comfort to you.

  19. Eri Says:

    I have read your blog now for some time… and just lurked. I have truly appreciated your insight and candor. It’s really brave, and very honest. That kind of honesty can make some people nervous, or uncomfortable. I love the constant volley between the darkness & depth and superficial & laughable. I just understand it. I’ve seen all those studies where people who don’t fall into that place of despair are able to avoid it because they possess a certain amount of delusion… some people are just too honest for that. I know the place you’re at. What brought me there may not be the exact same in circumstance… but I know it, all the same. Your words and the tumblr images describe it well. It does help to get lost in the complete superficial sometimes… so I’m hoping you have a date with the Orange County Housewives tonight! Maybe Slade’s screen-time is dwindling?… one can hope. I have to say, Alex is coming off like quite a befuddled harpy this season… every screen-shot of her seems to be with her mouth agape in huffy disbelief about something. Oh, and I remember some time back when you asked people about beauty products that they liked… I have to say (it IS a bit of an investment) but the Clarisonic Mia is pretty damn life-changing.

    I hope you have some bright days soon… but even if it takes a while… just know that you are not alone. This shit is human nature, don;t get impatient with yourself. YOU, my sista, are a warrior :) even if you feel like turning the lights off and burying yourself under the covers for a while.

  20. Andra Says:

    Sam has the right idea here I think.
    This is positive for you and it’s terrific for you to talk to other people experiencing similar grief. A kindred soul is a good soul.
    The photographs are magnificient …. very evocative.
    Roberto is a doll and you have many blessings to count.
    Never forget that.
    With love
    Andra

  21. Andra Says:

    What about some light relief.
    Is it time for Mr Duff to don the sarong?
    Hands up!!

  22. Desiree Says:

    I nearly cried with relief at this post. I’m glad you’ve found a group of people that are going through similar symptoms of mind-numbing grief and you feel you can share something with them. Sorry if that makes me sound like a git. I’m full-time carer to my partner who has been suffering from PTSD for a decade and is diagnosed with morbid major depression (dr’s words not mine). On top of that severe Type A haemophilia – part of the lost generation lucky to have escaped copping HIV with infected Factor VIII in the 80s. Like you, he has no idea at what point the PTSD kicked off – we suspect child sexual abuse with PTSD triggered by solely caring for his young wife through ovarian & bowel cancer and literally trying to put her body back together during her final days in a remote Scottish house during an Easter weekend. Needless to say, he’s very ill. I’m not a professional in any way qualified to treat his condition – his shrink is great, but in the end it’s up to my fella and I to muddle through. I’m sorry for banging on. My love has just fallen asleep after an early morning hour-long PTSD rant and I have no one to talk to. I’m sorry for making this about me Sister. I just feel I can relate to you what you might be feeling. I’m not really an arsehole. xo

  23. Lara Says:

    So glad you went to a meeting. I think the majority of us who read your blog try to empathize as much as possible but most of us have no idea what you’re feeling deep down.
    xoxo

  24. style odyssey Says:

    i always figured that “lashing out” is one of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress. i’ve seen it occur in my own family during a very tragic and sudden loss. i suppose it’s a way of coping- regaining that sense of control- in a hopeless situation.

    i hope you find the comfort, understanding and support from this group. it sounds like just what you need right now.

    keep us posted, won’t you?

  25. Harmreduction Says:

    Yeah you!!!!
    I am so happy you have found a group.
    It is an awesome step.
    OUCH, FUCK FUCK FUCK- ow ow ow- so sorry about the nail. I remember sometimes I would be grateful for a physical injury in order to externalize my pain. One of my cray-cray things, not necessasaruly yours, sister. I just selfishly need to keep reading your thoughts.
    Thank you for letting me.

  26. Sister Wolf Says:

    Penny Dreadful – Thank you xo

    K-line – Thank you, xo

    Ann -The nail is icky. xoxo

    Jill – Ha!

    Cricket9 – Thank you, xo

    Suebob – I remember “I asshole” from your blogroll. Best blog title ever.

    Sam – You have inspired a whole post with this comment! xo

    MG – They are all insane, thank god.

    Aja – Thank you, xo

    regularstarfish – Thank you, xo

    Make Do – Plus remember when I broke my hi in the middle of everything?!? Still hurts. Another trauma.

    betina – Oh, no no no, can’t even bear the trailer.

    Kelly – Oh dear. Thank you, xo

    Patni – I’m glad you’re doing better, xo

    Dave C – Thank you so much. Yep, he is a good one. xo

    Catherine – Thank you for thinking about Max, it means so much to me, xo

    Sheri – Being a good mother, to me, would be mean keeping your kids alive. I am a failure in this and I have to accept it somehow.

    Eri – Thank you for your support, xoxo

    Andra – I count you as a blessing. And I agree about Duff.

    Desiree – He is so lucky to have you. So sorry he has suffered so much!

    Lara – Thank you, xo

    Style Odyssey – Thank you, I will, xo

    Harmreduction – xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  27. Make Do Style Says:

    How could I have forgotten the hip! And the pelvis before – that’s how I found you sitting on a kamode ‘cos KOS said how awful it was for you to break your pelvis.

    I suffered with PTSD – on a minor level, not over death, nor over the death of ones son, and it was accumulative – so I can imagine the horror you are experiencing but please please please know you are not a failure. I will say it again and again it was not up to you to keep Max alive. You have to forgive yourself for anything your think you might have done better because we all might have done better in everything with everyone and all things we had.

    much love
    xx

  28. Layla Says:

    oh gosh, you are really very BRAVE to keep up with the blog & it all through all this!!

    I just couldn’t post after Granny died, and it’s probably even worse after losing a son…

    I think I’ve had PTSD too, several times, not really officially diagnosed cause I never dared to go to someone qualified for this (didn’t want to be pushed pills or such) so I just went gluten-free after this last time (couldn’t stop crying otherwise) and maybe the trick is ‘tunnel vision’.. and finding comfort in other things, yup.. For me, going through Granny’s stuff was immensely difficult (we had to empty the flat) but in a way healing too.. And just being there, in peace and ever-decreasing furniture.. Unfortunately now I gotta figure out what to do with all the ‘stuff’ and furniture yikes!! :) so, more uncluttering is needed…

    Dunno, if in crisis, declutter?* Good to know you got a supportive group too!!

    *(I googled ‘Lifestyle Makeover’ and all those sites said to declutter first too, hmm? So I did and found some keys and other stuff I thought I’d lost, lol! And a bit more inspiration…) Take care, bookmarking your site!!

  29. Tallulah Eulallie Says:

    I’m so glad you have found a group of caring souls to help you. PTSD is horrific; I suffered from it myself. I was a battered wife. For years afterward, loud noises and sudden movements would still send me into a full-blown panic. Although I will never “get over” what happened to me, the passage of time, a lot of hard work on my part, and the loving support and acceptance of people like those in your group have helped me get through the worst of it. (Although, the sound of a garage door opening still makes me queasy.) Since then, I have done work at my city’s rape crisis center as a crisis counselor and victim’s advocate. (Like Annie Dillard said, “Pain is a terrible thing to waste.” I’m damned sure not gonna waste mine.) I can tell you that what you are experiencing is a perfectly normal reaction, and it does not mean that you are crazy, nor does it mean that you are weak. All of those emotions? You have a right to feel every goddamn one of them, even the ugly ones you can’t even name. You will work through this in your own time, and those who care for you will be patient. Please try to be patient with yourself.

  30. Andra Says:

    Tallulah honey, you’re a gem.

  31. Dani Says:

    “Broken floorboord laughter in the drying spit of a deafening noon
    beats down on your 3rd birthday with icing that carved
    loud lacerations of colour in your childhood like you were something special
    something more than shivering meat in a court… of screens

    Fleecy lungs howl to the button moon
    and we’re all princes of a private language
    that paints our graves with bright and obscure disaster
    and cools the ennui afternoon like a lost plastic toy charged with love

    We were worth being lost all along.”

    - Arthur Rimbaud

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