My PTSD Storyline

Growing up in a small town in upstate South Carolina, I was living the perfect southern dream when I found a handsome young man who fell head over heels for me.  It wasn’t long after I moved to Asheville, North Carolina that we decided to get married.  We knew we were young, but we were in love and life seemed like it was one long happy summer as we took our first steps into the world as adults together.

For 25 years we lived that dream together. We had two beautiful daughters and built successful businesses together. We had everything anyone could want – a big house, good friends, and a nice family. I still can’t believe how fast all of that changed.

As his parents got older and needed more help, I took on the role of a caregiver.  I would spend hours every day making sure that his mother and father were clean and fed and had their medicine. They had both been my parents for 25 years too!  I wanted to make sure his mother was comfortable and taken care of as she lay dying from a tumor in her brain.  That’s where my mind was. That’s how I was spending my days.  I had no idea that my husband had different ideas going through his mind.

This is where the story of my PTSD starts. In one night, I lost my entire world – my family, my friends, my home and everything I’d worked for. But worst of all, I lost my children.

Even now, when I think back to that night, it feels so surreal. When he came home for dinner that evening, I wasn’t greeted with a kiss or warm conversation.  No.  Instead, I was pulled from my home and shoved into the back of a police cruiser.  My husband, the man I had loved and supported for most of my life, had turned on me.  He told the police that I was crazy, that I was abusive, that I was a danger.  And so they took me to a hospital to be evaluated.

Of course, I was released – there was nothing wrong with me.  But by that time my husband had already put his plan into action.  He had filed a restraining order, preventing me from seeing him or my children, from going to any of my businesses I had helped build, and from getting my personal belongings.  I was homeless, penniless, on the street, and I had no one to turn to.  Shortly after the separation, he moved a new woman into my home and they were engaged. As soon as the divorce was final, he married her.  I was left with nothing but the shirt on my back.

My reputation was ruined too. He told everyone that I was a raging alcoholic.  For over two years now, I have been screened twice a week for alcohol use – and I’ve passed every single test.  But how can I tell people that when I have been banned from my own community?

It’s now been over two years since my life was taken from me. Over two years, and I still haven’t been able to defend myself in court.  In the months that followed that horrible night, I knew something wasn’t right.  I could never shake the constant anxiety and depression. Finally, it was the nightmares that forced me to get help.  I would wake up at the same time every night, screaming in terror as I relived the ordeal of being taken away in a police car. It was just too much.

When I saw the doctor, he diagnosed me with PTSD from the trauma of my husband’s manipulative and abusive behavior. It’s been a terrible journey, but I really feel that I could handle it if I could just see my children.

I refuse to give up.  I know that my story is terrible. I also know I’m not the only one out there suffering from trauma and PTSD.  The only way we will get through this is to stand together. So now, I want to give back and help others get through their suffering.

I am a fighter. I am a warrior. And I will not be defeated.  I offer this blog as a resource and a community for others who are struggling each and every day with PTSD and trauma.  Together we will overcome!

3 Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health Right Now

Being diagnosed with a mental illness can be a lot to take in. But even if you don’t have a diagnosis, everyone goes through struggles and deals with high stress at times. Getting professional help and the right medications are sometimes necessary in order for you to get the relief that you need, but if you’re looking for a quick solution, there are a few things you can try. These tips won’t make your problems go away, and are certainly not intended to take the place of professional help. But they can help you improve your mental health little by little. Here are 3 ways that you can improve your mental health right now:

 

  1. Breathe

Have you begun to start breathing more heavily than normal? Maybe you’re even holding your breath without realizing it. You might not be able to control the things that are going on around you, but you can control your body and your breathing. Try some different breathing exercises such as inhaling and exhaling in beats of 4, as this will help you feel calmer and more in control.

 

  1. Think on the Bright Side

Look around you, think of all of the good things that could come out of the situation, and focus on that. You can also try repeating positive affirmations to yourself.

 

  1. Practice Self Care

The body and mind go hand in hand, so make sure you are taking care of yourself by eating healthy, getting lots of sleep, and practicing good hygiene.

 

These might all be minor ways to help with your mental health, but all of those little steps can add up and go a long way in making a difference in your life.

3 Positive Affirmations to Get You Through Each Day

Life can get pretty hard sometimes, and while you can’t always change the events that occur in your life, you can change the way that you handle them. It’s a well-known fact that thinking more positively can actually improve your mood and even your mental health! With daily affirmations, you can rewire your brain, training yourself to think more positive, adding overall improvement your life just with your focused thoughts. Repeating positive affirmations to yourself can even help fight issues such as depression and anxiety, so I’m going to give you 3 positive affirmations to help you get through each day!

 

  1. Today is going to be a great day!

This is a great affirmation to start the day out with. When getting ready, smile at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that yes, no matter what gets thrown your way, today is going to be a great day. You get to decide how your day goes and you are deciding that it will go great!

 

  1. I can accomplish anything!

Everyone is faced with doubt at some point or another in their lives. Who doesn’t have a few doubts every now and then? But the key thing to remember is to not let those negative thoughts get to you. Brush them aside and replace them with positive affirmations instead! Don’t let yourself start thinking “I can’t do this” or “I can’t take anymore.” Turn those thoughts around immediately and tell yourself that you can do it and you can accomplish anything. That goes for things like getting out of bed, as well as things like working towards your career goals. This affirmation works for just about anything you want or need to do.

 

  1. I am enough.

There are going to be times that you feel hopeless and worthless. But you are enough. While it’s great to have big goals and try to achieve them, sometimes we all need a break. Don’t feel bad for taking a day off every now and then, and don’t let yourself start thinking that you’re not good enough for something or someone. Whenever you feel those negative thoughts creeping up again, stop them in their tracks by reminding yourself that you are enough right where you are and just as you are.

 

Feel free to also come up with your own affirmations to get you through each day. If you struggle with self-confidence, maybe try something along the lines of “I am beautiful just the way I am,” or whatever you feel works for you! If you just went through a break-up, consider telling yourself “I am strong, independent, and deserving of love.” The key is to choose affirmations that you feel are the best for you.

 

Just keep thinking positively and reminding yourself that you’ve got this! Having the right mindset will open up so many more great opportunities for you and even help you get through all of the bad stuff. Soon, you’ll be on your way to feeling better and accomplishing more than you ever imagined!

What You Should Know About The Express With Gary Alan

As many of you have probably already heard, I’m going to be on The Express Radio Show with my good friend, Gary Alan, on April 28th. If you haven’t heard, be sure to tune in to 880 The Biz at 5 pm ET this Sunday!

 

When you listen to The Express, you will hear Gary Alan talk about all sorts of interesting topics, from entertainment and sports to all things business. He has been in the radio business for a long time, and he really knows what he’s doing. He has studied Broadcast Journalism at the University of Miami and TV/Radio Broadcasting at Miami Dade College. He knows how to keep the conversations honest and professional while also being fun and entertaining at the same time.

 

Now, he wants to interview me about my experiences with PTSD and dealing with people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I could not be more excited!

 

We’re going to be discussing some serious and relatable topics, and I’ll even let you in on some secrets and give you a bit of advice! I’m really glad to be able to share with you through this blog, but now you can get the real inside scoop when you tune in with Gary Alan and me on April 28th at 5 pm on 880 The Biz!

 

You can always catch Gary Alan on the radio every Sunday from 5 to 6 pm, and this Sunday, you’ll get to catch us both! That’s some pretty exciting news and something that you won’t want to miss out on.

Could Mental Illness be the Cause of your Divorce?

We now live in a world where divorces are a common event, and unfortunately, it occurs more now than it ever has before. You might think that your divorce was only caused by falling out of love or some conflict between the two of you that could never be resolved, and while these are common causes for divorce, you might be interested to hear that it could have all been influenced by you or your partner’s mental health state.

 

At some point in our lives, we all face difficult times. Stress can cause lots of problems in all areas of your life, and that includes your marriage. It can bring on mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. Any one of those things can make you foggy-headed and irritable, making it more difficult to communicate the issues that you’re facing. When this happens, you might find yourself getting upset and arguing with your spouse more and more often. Regardless of whether it is you, your spouse, or both that is struggling, it’s no doubt that when stress levels are high, the tension between others grows more too.

 

Sometimes though, we later find out that the mental health issues were not caused by stress or trauma alone, but by a personality disorder such as narcissism or borderline personality disorder. Being married to someone with those kinds of mental health issues can be a real and constant challenge.

 

If you are the one suffering from any sort of mental health issues, the best thing to do is to try to get some professional help. It can be hard for your spouse to have to handle everything all on their own, and they shouldn’t have to.

 

If you are the one supporting a spouse that is struggling, just remember to be calm, patient, and understanding with them, but do not accept any sort of abuse. Your partner is likely going through some difficult stuff and could use all the support that they can get. Give them your shoulder to lean on, but don’t let them drag you down either.

 

If both of you are dealing with stressful situations or have experienced trauma together, you might want to consider getting couples therapy or marriage counseling. It can be difficult to be a support for someone else when you need lots of support too, and marriage counseling can go a long way in ensuring that there is proper communication going on about each other’s needs.

 

If you have suffered through a divorce that was caused by mental illness, regardless of whether it was you, them, or the both of you that were going through a rough time, just know that it is not your fault.

 

A lot of things can happen to you in this life that you have no control over. But you can control how you deal with it. There are a lot of things that you alone simply cannot fix, and it is important that you don’t dwell on those things. Instead, focus on yourself. Your only responsibility now is to focus on growing stronger and getting better. You are strong and capable of achieving anything you set your mind to!

PTSD in Children and Teens

We talk about PTSD in adult quite frequently in this blog, but adults aren’t the only ones who can suffer. Children and teens can develop PTSD after a traumatic event too, but they might show different symptoms.

 

So how can you tell if your child has PTSD? There are various signs to look out for.

 

If your child is between 5 and 12 years old, you might notice them behaving differently. They might start reenacting the event through play. For example, if they witnessed a shooting, they might be drawn more to shooting games. They might also start avoiding certain things if they see a pattern of events. This because the child thinks that they can predict when another bad thing is about to happen, based on things that happened before the traumatic event.

 

If your child is between the age of 12 and 18, they might begin acting impulsively and aggressively. You might think this is typical teenage behavior, but don’t be fooled. The older they are, the more similar their symptoms will be to those of adults with PTSD, but don’t overlook their impulsivity and more aggressive behaviors.

 

If the family has gone through trauma, it’s always a good idea to get the entire family into therapy. If you know or even think your child has gone through some trauma, it’s always best to get them into therapy too, even if you’re unsure of what caused their odd behavior. It’s important to catch PTSD early on in childhood and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Dealing with Trauma Anniversaries

Valentine’s Day was just this past week, and while this day was filled with love and romance for many, it was filled with heartache and suffering for others. Valentine’s Day, just like any holiday or anniversary, can be a hard thing to go through, especially if you have PTSD.

 

Anniversaries are usually seen as a positive thing, something you look forward to and plan for. You celebrate the anniversary of your relationship or wedding, and even birthdays. But some anniversaries aren’t quite so cheery. It can be difficult when you lose a loved one, break off a serious relationship, or experience any sort of traumatic event, and PTSD can be the result of these things. The event itself can be hard enough, but when the anniversary date for it rolls around, you might find yourself experiencing the struggle all over again.

 

Oftentimes, the anniversary of the traumatic event can cause your PTSD to really flare up. Depression, guilt, and shame might begin to set in as you think about the event. Triggers that you thought you had overcome now take hold of you once again, and you begin to experience flashbacks and panic attacks.

 

If it’s been long enough since the traumatic event, you’ll begin to notice these anniversary patterns and you might start avoiding certain places, people, and any other triggers related to the event. Before the anniversary even arrives, you might feel nervous and on edge as you dread the upcoming day.

 

Anniversaries of traumatic events are definitely no fun so it might help to be prepared for when the day comes. The right way to approach the trauma-related anniversary truly depends on the person and what the trauma is. For some, they feel closure and relief by doing something in honor of the event. This could be visiting the grave of someone they lost, donating or volunteering to help disaster relief, or simply taking a few moments of silence.

 

For others, like rape victims, for example, the best thing to do is avoid thinking about the event and try to completely distract themselves. This is where planning ahead is really important. Maybe plan for a fun day with family or friends, spend the day out in town, go to a movie, or do anything that you know will keep your mind busy.

 

If you’re unsure of how to handle the upcoming dreaded day, then talk to your therapist. They are trained to know how to handle these situations, and, being your therapist, they should know what way of coping should work best for you. Your therapist is there to help you in any way that they can.

 

The anniversary date of your traumatic event might feel like it lasts forever, but that day will soon pass too. Sometimes though, the feelings that arise from the anniversary can last up to a few weeks, and that’s okay. Take all the time you need to process and cope with the event, and know that it does get better from here on out. Healing from PTSD is possible.

 

Overcoming Avoidance

In a previous blog, we talked about avoidance as a symptom of PTSD. It’s an easy go-to for coping with the trauma that you had to face. While there are times where using avoidance maneuvers can actually be a good thing, it’s no longer a good thing when you do it all the time.

 

Avoidance has its time and place but it’s important to know when and where you should use it in your daily life. Sometimes, you need to think about other things and distract yourself when you’re out in public, hanging out with friends and family, or doing work. This way, you can be in the moment without your trauma getting in the way. But the thoughts and emotions that arise throughout the day will still eventually need to be dealt with.

 

When a time comes where you can actually parse out those things, you might find yourself no longer wanting to. After all, if you could shove all those annoying thoughts and feelings aside before, why not do the same now? But continuing to avoid what’s inside of you will lead to it all building up and coming out later in much more unhealthy ways.

 

Sometimes you just need to let everything out, whether that’s talking and venting to a friend, family member, or your therapist. Those boxes in your mind that you closed up earlier in the day or week are going to have to be gone through at some point. You need an outlet so that you can use avoidance in a healthy way and still be able to overcome your trauma.