FIRST PERSON | You wouldn’t currently know that me, a physically fit 51-year-old divorced woman, with eight kids from Milwaukee, Wis., was profoundly devastated by an abrupt separation after my 20-year marriage. This occurrence would have me out the door, and suddenly separated from my kids and husband. All of this happened one late November day in 2010 at the age of 49. It was this sudden life change that spurred on my PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms, medically diagnosed soon after.
A downward spiral of a failing marriage was emerging for a couple of years prior to this aforementioned marital separation. I had come to the decision to my marriage when I could no longer handle the anxiety and panic attacks that preceded these circumstances, and my PTSD. This was when my now ex-husband saw my seriousness, and planned to have me removed from my home, claiming I was an abusive mother. At this point, a team of professionals got involved launching and investigation lasting 2 years, as they interviewed my kids with a Guardian Ad Litem, and a team of therapists. I now have my kids back and am building a new life while recovering.
My Symptoms Then
My symptoms then were difficult to predict. My entire life took such an extreme turn, and I found myself homeless, staying with friends. I was also without work after not working for 20 years while raising 8 kids. Finding work in a local health food co-op, I found myself unpredictably crying, after hearing young children talking to their parents, crying…or sometimes just quietly sitting in their seats in the shopping cart. Hearing kids calling “mama”, often triggered this reaction. All that seemed to be running through my head was visions of my own kids in a shopping cart, and the fact that I could no longer do that.
My Personal Management of PTSD
Lots of exercise, being outside with my dog…without whom I would’ve gone completely insane, nutrition, as well as my new jobs in the natural food co-op, my favorite music and a doggy day care job. These were all self help ways to keep me afloat and recovering, not to mention my great therapist.
My PTSD Now
Day to day, I now enjoy much decreased memories that take over, causing crying spells, and am very optimistic about my full recovery. I don’t notice a stigma regarding PTSD. People are usually compassionate about it, and relate it to veterans.
For those that are suffering with intense PTSD symptoms, I’d like you to know…you will heal-it’s a process, however symptoms will slow down. You are not crazy.