My partner has PTSD and now so do I. When I began blogging for www.PTSDCHAT.org, I initially wanted to help caregivers of veterans, who have PTSD, and raise awareness about this mental health illness. I now will blog out of experience with having PTSD myself and finding hope in a diagnosis.
I had only written a few articles, when I needed to take a break due to a gripping period of depression. I have had depression before, but this time it felt different. This time, depression accompanied undeniably- life-disruptive anxiety and obsessive compulsive behaviors. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. Having tried many different medications while still sticking with therapy, I was losing hope.
If you don’t have a mental illness, or several for that matter, you might not know that mental illnesses often play off each other. In other words, one condition can fuel your other. For example, anxiety often comes with depression. It’s a get one, get another for free kind of deal- a pretty lousy deal. Before you know it, two or more of the mental illnesses have morphed into a monster so powerful, you cannot deny its presence. This all might sound “dramatic”, but the descriptions are true and almost fall short.
Back to my rollercoaster to finding answers. My friends and family continued to encourage me to not give up when I was fed up. I was convinced nobody could diagnose me. I thought to myself, “What the hell is taking so long to have a definitive diagnosis?” Still, my loved ones would not let me give up. For that, I am so grateful.
After more than two years of seeing different counselors and trying several medications, I finally found an antidepressant that made a considerable difference. Shortly after my medication was working the anticipated diagnosis was finally given to me – I have PTSD. Let’s all take one big “SIGH!”.
His and hers PTSD. Isn’t it romantic? I am surprised yet not that surprised. Surprised, because I’ve been a caregiver to my husband, who has combat PTSD, for almost ten years and did not recognize the symptoms in myself. However, I was not that surprised, because I have been to hell and back more than once throughout my lifetime. I’ve been in hospitals and doctor’s offices so often, thanks to asthma, that I feel like “Experienced appointment waiter” could be on my resume.
How did I miss it? How could I not know? I’d like to think I’m some highly introspective and self-aware woman. I can be, but let’s get real; I am not a mental health professional. Secondly, PTSD symptoms can mimic an array of mental health illnesses like mood disorders.
I had an amazing “a-ha” moment when I was given my diagnosis. I now have something to work with. It can only get better from here. It will take time but it will definitely get better. Mr. PTSD is right by my side. He may still have PTSD, but knows exactly what it’s like to struggle and overcome PTSD. Recovery is more likely with some kind of support system. I’m blessed to have a couple of really close friends and of course the rest of my family.
I don’t believe in coincidence. God brought us, Mr. PTSD and Mrs. PTSD together so that we could help each other climb out of the darkness and overcome PTSD together. We are imperfectly perfect for each other. It won’t be easy. With commitment to mental health improvement, support from family and friends, as well as God on our side, life can only get better from here.