In November I started talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how it effects women who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. When I started these postings, I really thought I would be able to delve into them during the holidays. They went hand in hand with how I was feeling, but I couldn’t put it in words. I was feeling everything so deeply and at the same time, I was so busy I couldn’t get it all out. Honestly, I had forgotten that I needed to continue these, until last night.
I’d also like to say, I am in no way am I a trained psychologist. I’ve honestly never even taking a psychology class in college. This is just me making a connection with a very real life disorder and sharing my journey with you all. A lot of women who have experiences loss do go through these same symptoms. Not everyone is the same and not everyone goes through this journey just like the next. If you don’t feel like you’ve been through this, you’re not alone. If you do feel like you go through one symptom a day, you’re not alone. Although I’m here to talk about anything with you, this is not by any means a diagnosis.
To refresh your memory and incase you want to go back and read, these are the four symptoms of PTSD and how I have experienced them post loss. I found these symptoms on the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Reliving the event.
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event.
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings.
- Feeling ‘keyed’ up or being on the lookout for danger.
If you read my post yesterday, I’m definitely feeling some negative energy. I keep telling people that I feel so cynical now. Every day I expect the worst, but then think the worst has already to me. There are times I really don’t believe I’m ever going to feel better. That’s hard to type for you all to read. I want to everyone to believe that I’m going to keep surviving each day and to know when I have good days. Yeah, I smile and laugh more freely now, but I always feel the negative right there.
It was so difficult to experience the holidays with this cloud looming over me. The strange thing is, it’s almost as if the fog or numbness from the loss has worn off and I’m just feeling everything head on. Like I’m playing football without pads or jousting without armor. Although I really just ignored Christmas, the change of the year was definitely negative for me. I didn’t/don’t believe the world around me is magically going to get better. There are times that I don’t really believe what I do to help is actually helping. This is going to sound crazy, I know deep down that I’m helping myself heal, but my body is just producing all this bad energy. That’s truly is only way I know how to explain it.
Like I said in the beginning of this post, I didn’t even really think about continuing this, even though I’ve wanted to, until last night. For those of you that don’t know, I’m an avid reader. Well I was an avid reader before Jensen was born. I read Jensen children’s books every night before bed and read a handful of big chapter books during my pregnancy. Knowledge has always been so powerful for me and escaping to these worlds where I can learn more about different ways fascinates me. Anyways, I put off reading after he was born. The time I knew I should escape, I couldn’t let myself. I was afraid that my love for reading was going to change and it’d cause me nightmares. There was so much negative to an activity I loved to do. Then a book I preordered with Jensen came in the mail and I read it in the span of a week. I felt so much better reading, but hadn’t picked up another book throughout the holidays.
Again, I was being so negative with myself. I hated this world I was stuck in, but no other world had Jensen in it. When I got a notification that one of my favorite books from high school was turning ten years old, I figured I’d purchase that addition and try reading. Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why was one of the first books I read that really talked about the dark and gritty. It’s also the first one I really, really understood the dynamic of loss. Of course I’ve read books before that had characters die, but this one was centralized about Hannah Baker. If you don’t know the story, she commits suicide and tells her thirteen reasons why via cassette tape. Each of her reasons are people and their actions that impacted her decision of taking her own life. Suicide is a serious issue and I know you’re wondering how it connects to me and pregnancy and infant loss.
Well first, let me tell you how it directly connects to Jensen. In the book, you’re reading the protagonist’s point of view on how he views Hannah, as well as hearing her story. His name happens to be, Clay Jensen. I completely forgot that before ordering the book. My heart skipped a beat reading his name over and over again. All the other words blurred together as my eyes instantly went to the name I constantly say and write. That’s an obvious one, but then, in the last chapter there’s another part that blew me away. Clay’s locker combination is 5-4-23. All random numbers, except, Jensen’s birthday was the 5th of April, which is the fourth month of the year. So this might be pushing it, but this year I turned twenty-three. Kind of crazy, right? What’s more crazy is when I finished my marathon read this time around, I ended at exactly 4:25am. The minute Jensen was born… Just thought I’d take a second to share that with you all.
Now back to all seriousness…
The book is a work of fiction, but I know what it’s like to be in that dark place. To think you are all alone in this world and that when you finally reach for help, you get told to move on. Of course the world is different to me than it would be for a high schooler. There’s more experience and years, but it doesn’t make that loneliness more than the other. But I kept thinking of how PTSD after losing Jensen has brought all these negative feelings and beliefs in my life. I question,” Why Me? Why Jensen?,” over and over sometimes. At times I don’t want to reach out and spread this darkness. But what happens when you keep it all inside?
There’s a lot of statistics and facts I know about losing a child. One I do not know and have not looked up is that suicide rate among grieving mothers. In the book, Hannah contemplates how she wants to kill herself and she mentions running her car off the road. You wouldn’t know this, but I’ve thought those same things. I’m not suicidal by the way, but I wonder what that release of pain and darkness would feel like?
As much as the negative and darkness cloud my life, there’s one big shining light. It’s the light I see when I drink my chocolate milk in the morning and every night as the flame dances on top of his candle. I would do anything to have Jensen back with me, to have him physically light up my world. Unfortunately, I’ll never have that. But I do have him and moments full of blinding light and love. I have hope that I will see him one day, but I’m not going to rush to get there.
Post traumatic stress disorder is real for mom’s who’ve lost their child. I’ve never lied to you guys on this journey and I won’t stop now. A book triggered me last night to think of everyone in the world who can’t stop those negative thoughts or who’ve felt so alone they didn’t know what else to do. These go hand in hand. Or, as Hannah would say, “everything… affects everything.”
Even if you’ve found my page and have not experience the loss of a child, but are still feeling completely alone, please reach out to me. There is hope and one day there will be a light so blinding that you’ll want to share it with the world. It might not feel it in this moment or the next, but I promise you, you are wanted and you are loved. You belong right here and maybe it feels like this suffering will never end, but there are people (like me) that will help you through every step of the way.