Living with a person with PTSD is no easy task, especially for the person who actually has it. I would like for others to know that the frustrations they have with me are the same exact frustrations I have with myself. I hate being late, I despise being exhausted, I cringe within thirty minutes of waking because my back starts to spasm. Fatigue is iminnent after three to four hours of being awake. I forget to brush my teeth, I forget to take my meds, I don’t know how many days it’s been since I last showered, and I went to the store and got every item but those listed as missing for our planned dinner.
The laundry is still heaped waiting to be folded, half the dishwasher is unloaded, the sink is half full, the dog tore up something else, my kids want another snack, now she has to potty, back to the laundry room for clean clothes, time for taekwando, this or that bill didn’t go through and we overdrafted again, demands for yearbooks, making school lunches, homework, payday taco salads, soccer and gear, and on and on and on.
By the time my husband gets home I’m in dire need of adult affection, even though I do spend the day with my Nana and Stepmother, she has trouble hearing now and communication is put aside mostly due to interference from child two. I look so forward to him gracing the pantry doors each evening but lately it’s almost immediately turned into an argument, which in turn upsets our children. We started marriage counseling through the VA for this but currently are waiting to get back in after the Holidays.
I know he works hard, and long hours in a demanding and physically taxing job, but I cannot stand it when he thinks I do absolutely nothing most days, even the on the days that I do try really hard to remember the tasks he requested it almost always seems like it is never good enough. Tonight he said my problem was beyond laziness, that I stayed stuck in my own head and past too often to function properly and he needed to see some progress, that I can’t stay stuck on it forever, or something to that effect. In a way he is right, but it isn’t because of something I consciously do.
I denied and supressed my trauma for many years for my own survival and because I thought it was what I had to do to survive. I’m not saying I made the best choices or decisions during the majority of my life, but I have to own that I made them. And now I have to grieve what the others took and what I let them have from me for all of those years; remaining silent but screaming and pounding to be let out on the inside.
I wake up at 06:30 usually after hours of tossing and turning throughout the night unless my medicine kicks in. Then I’m just groggy from the mid sleep wake ups. I get my son ready for school, breakfast, make his lunch when able, walk or drive him and his cousins to school, wake up with my husband and then daughter, husband goes to work and me and daughter go to see Nana until time for son to get out of school. We get him and go home for a snack. Two days a week we go to taekwando and he is about to start soccer. We do homework and wait for Daddy to get home. Some days I work until he gets home and I’m very productive, other days my body hurts when I get home and I want a break before I need to cook, which is also a born again skill that I abandoned for awhile for various reasons.
When he comes home he doesn’t see any of the above things I have done, and evidently sitting around watching kids all day isn’t physically taxing or demanding, I don’t do what I say I’m going to do, I don’t meal plan, I never finish what I start, I bounce from one chore to another, and nothing is actually finished. I understand the frustration, I frustrate my self; but I do try.
I don’t like finding myself still picking my skin off two hours after I started only realizing it because I’m now bleeding and in pain, I’m not daydreaming when I’m frozen while gazing out the window, I hate myself when I see and know all of the things I need to do but have not one miniscule amount of motivation or energy to get the task started. I feel horrible when I have to tell my children no to simple requests like dancing in public when I danced for fourteen years of my life because of my anxiety, or when they realize our house works so much differently from others.
My mental illness makes people see me as a completely different and abominable person. One that is lazy, scatter brained, incompetent, horrible at communication and making decisions, perpetually late, a somewhat unfit parent, a slob. I’ve heard different variations from different people for years now. I just wish as much as they believed these thoughts about me, that they know I have far worse ones about myself. These people do not know that every minute of every day all of the failures I perceive myself as having weigh heavy on my heart and my mind.
I fall asleep with the hope that tomorrow will be different, I’ll have energy and finally get some of my house picked up, my trunk won’t feel like it’s covered in bruises in front and back; my brain fog will be gone and my brain will be able to concentrate like it used to, my short term memory will work again. It won’t take me over a year to read five chapters out of a book on healing, I’ll snuggle my babies and lay around with them without feeling guilty about not getting something done, that one day I’ll have a job and my son won’t have to say, “I wish we weren’t so broke.”
I realize I cannot give my children all of the things I had in my childhood. I have to tell my son no more often than I’d like, but what I really wish people knew the most is that even when I am sitting on the couch, I’m not enjoying it. I’m ruminating on all of the above, hoping and wishing that they weren’t that way. Some days I push the fog out of the way and I get things done, other times it consumes me. It could have taken me long ago, but instead I decide to wake up everyday, even if I went to bed wishing I didn’t, and face it regardless of what my brain throws in my way. I keep going, searching for ways to make it better, and doing what I can to make it better.
I got an education to be a counselor so I can hopefully one day open my non-profit, so that I can support myself and my family, I go to therapy when it’s available, I participate in physical therapy and other treatments for my chronic pain, I am a caregiver for my children and grandma to the best of my ability, I try to participate in self care even when I feel like I do not deserve it, and I speak with others in support groups online so that they never have to feel alone in their healing journey either. I’ll never be perfect, and some days I may try harder than others, but I never stop trying to better myself for family and me. I am a hundred percent devoted to giving my children and husband the best life I can, and I’ll never give up, even when my brain tells me I should.
So for those that are frustrated by the way my PTSD has effected my life, I am too. My mental health tells me negative thoughts all day everyday and I fight them with all I have to be a better person, and even when you say things I know my mental illness made you say, I forgive you; everytime. I have to because if there is one thing that this hell called PTSD has taught me it is that forgiving myself is the only way I can make it through every day, and I am not the product of those words, my mental health is.