Trigger Warning –
There is no easy way to tell anyone how to survive a mental health issue. There are so many things to learn about the incident a person is experiencing, and you try to relate as much as possible. Yet I found in the research I have been doing to explain what happened to me, I found more questions.
It is hard to explain to someone else that my PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression is gone. Well, not entirely gone as I still have times in the late evening when Anxiety comes creeping up to me. Those Anxiety filled thoughts are small but still show me it is there.
I have learned to rationalize those thoughts. My fear of dying alone, my fear of not meeting my project goals, and my fear of not being loved most of all. I do know that if this was still full blown Anxiety I would have difficulty focusing again, and seeing my way past those fearful thought patterns.
When the TBI happened at a friend’s house, I was embarrassed at the time. But now, looking back, I realize it was bound to happen sometime. I realize the PTSD was just lurking in the background waiting to surface. It was there for many reasons, and not just because of the assault in August of 2008. My Mom also shared her trauma that she experienced as a child during World War II. She only shared those terrifying experiences with me, and not the rest of the family. She mentioned the homelessness of her and her grandmother. She mentioned being abused by her uncle as a child. She mentioned her being deathly ill with Scarlet Fever and not sure if she was going to recover. She also mentioned other experiences of abandonment, and what she stated was a rejection of her Mom due to a remarriage.
All these things, plus my time as an EMT, had an effect on my psychological being. It started manifesting in anxiety here and there with my family. But it really came out to bring me down when I had the Traumatic Brain Injury. Yes, the PTSD was bound to happen sooner or later. It is called generational trauma carried through to the next group of kids.
I had a few opportunities in my family life before the divorce to seek out counseling. I sometimes wonder if I would have taken advantage of those opportunities beforehand would I have ended up with PTSD.
I truly believe with the short amount of research I have done that counseling could have eliminated the PTSD from surfacing. The more I speak with others who have suffered trauma, the more I realize it is truly an epidemic in society. Not just in the United States, but in every country. It may have been acknowledged as combat stress, but PTSD has been around for a very long time. It is just not fully recognized for the damage it causes in a person’s life. Civilian or Veteran.
Each person handles trauma differently from the next person. You can not compare one’s trauma with another person’s trauma. The same can be said for the healing or coping process. Each person’s healing, coping or treatment is different from the next person. Please don’t judge the progress of one man or woman with another. I truly believe that in the near future C-PTSD will also be recognized in the medial journals. The damage done with repeated childhood abuse is so destructive. As is the repeated sexual abuse suffered in trafficking, or abuse from a narcissistic relationship, and domestic violence.
Not only is it causing some, if not all, of the mental health issues suffered, but it is also being repeated in generations down the line. As a population of human beings, we must strive to do better. This is not just about prevention, but eliminating the way society raises our children in fear and hate. This affects generations to come unless we all work together to put an end to the early childhood abuse and neglect that continues today.
What are your thoughts with our mental health issue? Do you feel the environment you grew up in had an affect on your mental health? What are the areas we can improve in supporting our young kids? How can we teach our kids to reach higher and start talking about mental health? What do you feel would have benefited your situation when you were a child?
All of these questions are relatable to the issues we are facing with mental health. How can we address them and share compassion with others to change the outcomes?
* Book is currently untitled – please feel free to leave your feedback. Thank you.
Trigger Warning –
With help from a friend, I ended up in a room and allowed to stay for a few months. I struggled everyday to gain some composure and try to focus on finding work. I was lost in dreams at night, and flashbacks during the day. I drove around town in complete circles, and it was frustrating. There were a few people that were trying to get me motivated on a project, and I was getting close to compiling all the paperwork. Yes, I was actually going to open up a center for teen support. Or run a program for education of first time offenders in the prison system.
Somehow, in the process of the paperwork, I was getting assistance from other offices to help me complete this application. But in the end, I panicked again and backed out of another opportunity. My other work also tried to get me motivated, and provided me with more information and feedback from other offices. It was frustrating because I would start the morning out okay, and then by the afternoon just run around in circles again. The anxiety would subside for a while, and then the headaches would start with the huge doubt of my very being. It was horrible, and I could not commit to anything. There is the reason why I eventually walked away from one of my companies that I loved. I resigned feeling stress and pressure to perform.
I was eating and fixing food, and trying to figure out what my next move was going to be. But in all honesty I could not maintain the thought process to complete one day of work. My friend had provided me a safe place to sleep, and it was quiet. However, after a few months I was asked to leave. I was not quite sure what to do next.
My family was left trying to figure out what was happening to me. They could not understand the attempts at work, the loss of our home, and my lack of stability. I was now into 2015 and the help I tried to get did not give me any clue as to when the symptoms would end. So I persisted in trying to drum up work, either with another project, my part time work, or networking with others. It was March and my decisions were becoming more irrational. I was still suffering with headaches, but I was able to try to find a safe place to sleep in my car. I also managed to find a place to shower and get ready for the day. My belongings were in storage, and I tried to keep things going there. I felt most comfortable on that industrial street where my belongings were located. I felt like things would turn around on any given day, and I would be home again.
At this time I also made counseling appointments so that I could start a process of healing. However, the facility I used was an internship foundation. The counselor I saw for a couple of times would listen to my story, and then began laughing. At the time, I did not see anything humerous in my fear or flashbacks. She never suggested PTSD or delusions or anything else. She did not have the capacity to offer any medications either. After the second visit I literally had given up of getting any help with my symptoms. My family did not have faith in me and my friends were also worried. This made my anxiety get worse, and the feeling of abandonment increase as well. All I wanted through this whole situation is to be loved, given a bed, a meal, and some work to focus on. There is the key right there. I knew at this point in mid 2015 that my flashbacks were almost gone. I could not understand how that was happening other than to say that for this whole last year I was living on nothing but flashbacks.
Unfortunately, my communication with others started to deteriorate more at this time. My family felt as if I had not sought out counseling, and this made things worse. I was communicating with my family, and they would reach out to me as well. But my decision to start selling my personal belongings from storage was also a bad decision. There was no control as anyone could have seen that in me. Conversations with family to make sure what items were to be kept became stressful. I had no idea, and no one to rely on to tell me it would all be okay. I should have kept my belongings, but I did not. The little that I had built up after the divorce meant so much to me at the time. I was devastated when I realized I got rid of all of my things. The process of getting rid of all my belongings at the time had come from a suggestion from a friend. It became clear that any suggestions people would make to me at the time I took to heart. I was not well, and people could actually take advantage of me. All I kept thinking of is this situation had to get better. Well, in another couple months it actually got worse. This when my car broke down on the highway. I ended up along and desperate in my car, and could not get a soul to help me out. It took a co-worker to offer to come pick me up. From there on I slept near my storage area in a sleeping bag at night. I made sure there was no one else around. Again, there was no clear thought patterns that I could maintain. The headaches still persisted, but my speech had gotten better.
Sleeping alone on the sidewalk, in the middle of an industrial area was the worse time of my life. I felt alone, abandoned, and forgotten. I would get up in the morning determined to put my stuff away in my storage. I would quietly walk over a couple of buildings down the block and use the bathroom facilities that I would end up paying for monthly. I would then try to focus on making sure I spent a few minutes trying to meditate, but that first started out being nothing but tears. It took some time before I could try to meditate for about 10 minutes and not get upset. The solitude I was facing on a daily basis gave me time to evaluate how ended up in this position. Alone, and homeless in my small town. During the day I actually ended up walking to the market for breakfast, and try to get coffee. I did have minimal funds coming in once a month, and I was able to budget money for what I needed daily for food. My thoughts were still irrational at night because I would get upset that I was left on the street. I had started texting family and a few friends, and by all accounts I had pushed them away. Previously, in the months before I lost my car, I actually thought I was being followed. When a business person I knew had showed up at a book store I panicked. I thought it was a mistake and that he could not have seen it was me. But one more failed try to connect with me wiped away all doubt. That incident in the book store sent my mind racing and in tears. All I kept thinking was I did not want to go home with anyone that was not family.
* Book title is unknown at this time – please feel free to leave me your feedback.
Trigger Warning –
The downward spiral continued to take the life out of me straight through the end of the year. My neurologist never commented on symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome), and only offered medication that would cause seizures. She referred me to a speech therapist when I mentioned I was starting to have difficulty forming my words. The speech therapist refused my appointment when I mentioned I was having symptoms of PTSD. The traumatic brain injury was causing me physical deficits. Not only was my speech affected, but my vision in my right eye was affected. The hearing in my right ear was also having issues with noise level. I could hear if the noise was at a soft level, but when it got louder it actually produced a scratchy vibration. It really disturbed me that my hearing was affected so distinctly. So I spent hours listening to music in my car to get my hearing to adjust to noise levels. It took weeks, and a lot of practice, but I was able to raise the noise level so I could hear again.
The main problem with the onset of PTSD was the flashbacks. I would get startled and totally lose control and look around as if someone was going to hit me. Every conversation would start another memory to replay, and I would have to take a step back physically to feel safe again. My thoughts were no longer controllable, and anything would set off immediate panic. After the flashbacks I would actually try to evaluate what just happened. This was an exhausting process everyday, and I was falling behind daily. I was not able to sleep in peace, and was on alert throughout the night. During the day, it was people, loud noise, smells, and music causing flashbacks. I tried desperately to maintain my focus, but I just could not keep up. I would back away from people, and actually start looking for a way out of the room. I could tell when people were starting to notice my defensive behavior. I could not focus on my work or my home life. I knew I needed to do something, but was not getting any assistance medically. I could not explain to my family what was going on either. I felt out of control, and started to hope on the thought of a friend suggesting he would come and help me. Suddenly, I realized I could not afford to continue to pay rent and I did the unexpected. I gave notice to my landlord that we were moving out. No, there was no back up plan. There was no one to step up and help me either. By the time my family wanted to step in, I already gave notice. My landlord, a family friend, expressed her concern with my decision. She desperately tried to talk me out of leaving. I started feeling like my decision was just temporary. I explained to her I did not think I could hold onto my job any longer, and that I needed to give notice. I packed up everything I had, and started giving away stuff. We were essentially homeless the beginning of December 2014. I had nowhere to stay, and neither did part of my family. We were desperate to find a safe place to stay. Looking back, it was the worst decision of my life.
I had no idea what I was thinking, and to try and rely on someone else was just an illusion. There was no friend to save me, no family member as they had no idea I was having so much trouble. I explained to my landlord, and she already told me I was not thinking straight. If I would have waited just one more month I would have been able to make it work. Just as we moved out, I started to receive a monthly amount based on my disability (my carpal tunnel syndrome). But my situation already took a bad turn. We were homeless. My animals were gone. Everything I had worked for was placed in storage.
At this point, being homeless, I was not sure what the plan was or how I was going to save this. I felt horrible for my family, and like a complete failure. I felt the stress increase even worse than before. I tried reaching out to my previous job, but there was nothing to be done. I reached out to my past relationship, and that was no help either. No one was present when I was going through the flashbacks and the self doubt. I was losing more sleep and my thoughts were running in circles. Would things have been different if I had a spouse or partner? Yes, I believe it would have been a better outcome. I think someone close would have been able to see my panic and hypervigilance. I think to some degree if there would have been a partner maybe I would have gotten better medical attention, or at least had my residence maintained with help. I found out the next month during my research of my symptoms, PTSD and traumatic brain injury that 10% of TBIs end up homeless. Those patients are suffering brain injuries, and they are unable to work or focus. Yes, I was part of that group. My mind kept running overtime, and I was trying to keep up with my decisions. My decisions were all horrible, because I kept thinking in the short term as opposed to long term. I created such a mess with every day decisions that my family was suffering as a result. All I could think of is what kind of Mom was I to end up this way. How did I get to this place of homelessness? How could I not see this situation coming from the very start? I started to try and evaluate when the depression had actually started, but with the daily pain of the TBI I lost track of exhaustion. I truly had thought that I could push through the TBI and just continue to work. But that is not what ended up happening by the end of 2014. I was living in my car, and so was part of my family. Writing this experience here is even more heart wrenching for me. I realize I will forever feel like I need to make up for my horrible behavior and circumstances.
*Book is untitled at the present time – I appreciate your feedback on this project. Still deciding whether to publish.
Trigger Warning –
Homelessness does not happen overnight. It happens in a succession of tragedies such that a person is unable to make reasonable decisions. It may start with someone getting sick in the family. It can be a job crisis due to a disability. It can be a death in the family, a car accident, divorce or domestic violence. You find yourself in one crisis that seems to set off a chain of events that take you down the path to homelessness. In my case, I got sidelined in a long disability battle to try and retain my job. Needless to say without an attorney, I was not able to secure my job or my home once the disability was acknowledged. I was forced to resign in December 2013. I was barely able to relocate into another home for me and my family. I had to give up my home since there was not enough income with the disability undecided.
Starting over was a struggle in the work community. Luckily, I had family friends that offered me and my family a place to rent. I was so grateful since this location also provided safety. During the time I became jobless I was hit with another injury. I was helping a friend and went over to their house in the evening. As I went running up the curb I caught my foot, and fell hard on my face fracturing my nose. This concussion, traumatic brain injury, started the ongoing headaches that would last for a year. The headaches started immediately. Without me realizing it at the time, I was already starting to make poor decisions that first week. I knew I needed to remain focused on finding a new job, but the headaches were constantly affecting my focus. As it progressed, I was unable to exercise, run with my dog or do yoga, because the pressure increased on my forehead. Later the pressure would cause vision problems in my right eye, speech impairment, inability to speak clearly, comprehension issues, and hearing deficits in my right ear.
I eventually found another job in sales about six months after the concussion. I still found the headaches difficult to manage. My job took me out to a training session, and I was away from home for a week. During this trip, at dinner, a man had made a suggestion to me in conversation. This conversation started to well up fear in me, and so I decided to go back to my room alone. Once I was in the room the tears started and I had this sinking feeling I was in danger. I was not in any danger physically by anyone there. I was in danger from the fear in my mind, and my body. Memories of panic that washed over me. I felt the danger of something that was not tangible yet. I truly had no idea why I was feeling terrified, chilled, and hypervigilant. The panic was overwhelming and left me without sleep that night. I functioned physically during the day, but was unable to focus my thoughts. In another day I headed home, and immediately crashed with fear. I reached out to a friend that had contacted me two weeks prior. This friend had a purpose in my life, and quickly got me the help with counseling. It took a lot of time, but through many conversations the memories eventually came up.
It had happened in August 2008. I remember the date specifically. The assault I suffered in my previous home was the source of my panic and fear. I tried at the time to report it to the local Sheriff. However, my report was laughed at because I had no proof. There was proof that morning, but I got rid of everything in disbelief. I remember that morning waking up in extreme pain, and realizing what had happened. It took me a while to get ready for work, and I was so upset and crying. The pain that day was unbearable and I could hardly walk. But I could not share it with anyone. I was distraught and could not determine how it happened. I felt totally out of it in the morning like I had been taking something. From that point I buried what little memory I had, and just tried to continue on with life. Safety at the time was my main concern as we could not move. The stress of constantly looking over my shoulder and realizing they were trying to get into my home at night took its toll on me mentally. Even though I buried that trauma experience, it did come back to haunt me in 2014. It was hard to walk through it, because I was unconscious at the time it happened. Another reason why the Sheriff did not believe me. Had I gone to the emergency room that morning I would have had proof, but I did not go. In August 2008, I could not believe it had happened to me. We were living next to horrendous neighbors, and I should have abandoned the home and walked away. No help came, and no support from the park management either. It was a nightmare to live through with my family. When we finally left the house, I thought I could also walk away from that memory and the constant harassment. I could not walk away. It came up with the PTSD in July of 2014. In July 2014, after the memories came up, I began to put together the pieces of how they had accomplished getting into my home at night. I also determined what they used to make sure I was unconscious. All this work remembering the incident took me nowhere fast.
Part I of Book Sample – Title unknown at this time. Please share your feedback. I appreciate your comments.
Early morning photo in Hollister of an old barn beyond the tree.
Life’s journey is the subject for today, but really it is a subject being addressed every day. We all have responsibilities, family, work and hopefully down time. But do we all take the time to connect to a complete new friend, and listen to them. For me, friendships in the past meant going out and spending time together, but not really communicating. We all, at one time or another, lose the art to communicate or listen to each other. Every day we get caught up in the monetary things we wish to obtain instead of the intangible. The intangible can be a beautiful compliment, or listening to someone else’s worry for just a few seconds. If we take these individual moments with friends we learn so much more about them as well as ourselves. We come to understand that we all share some of the same values, beliefs, strengths, and courage. To listen a little longer we end up in a beautiful conversation of trust and truth. In these moments it is within each of us to develop the compassion to listening to someone else’s fears. It also gives us the opportunity to be that strength for someone else. Each one of us has a need to be accepted, liked and loved. But in these moments we give to someone else, we also find the courage and strength to continue on and be a better person the next day. Conversation is not just about talking, and unfortunately we all tend to forget that it is also about listening. There are world concerns all across each country, and yet we are more focused on the monetary stuff than what sits before us in person. Simple conversations which will bring about trust, integrity, and honesty. We may not be able to change what is going on right now in another part of the world. But if we each took the time to listen, and learn from people around us that compassion will spread across the world and foster a more positive outlook. Learning is the key, communication is the answer, but that means we need to listen to understand. When we take the time to consider another person’s concerns, we find that we are all similar in our need to be accepted and loved. It is amazing to find that each of us through one part of our lives or another all go through the same struggles. These struggles may be wrapped up in different boxes, but the learning curve is the same. It takes growth, self acceptance, listening, and it takes a moment just to step back and let someone else shine.