It's been a while since my last post, and for those of you who have read it, you will know that it is the second part of my story about experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and life saving surgery.
My blog posts rarely have trigger warnings, and usually conclude with quotes or sentences which give my readers an idea about what I will be writing about in my next blog post. In some ways it's also fair to say that my posts are chronological from a storytelling perspective, as infertility, grief and reproductive issues are all individual and personal stories of mine that mysteriously and beautifully intertwine with my current 'destination' of motherhood, however they are also disparate in their nature of events and how the attached meaning of those events have unfolded in my life.
So having ended my last blog post with a description of what I saw after my ectopic surgery;
'A very bloated stomach with neatly placed bandages on my wounds...'
This was a far less conclusive message I left you with, but in all honesty this is because lately it feels as if there is no definitive beginning or end to this journey.
This isn't the first time I've felt this way, the random bursts of anxiety first became apparent as I approached every pregnancy milestone whilst being pregnant with my son.
I was extremely naive to the fact that being so near to having what I've wanted for so long wouldn't necessarily cure my biggest fears and anxieties, and this was evident because even after finally receiving a strong positive test , this subsequently brought on some very negative tests , and by that I mean difficult trials in my pregnancy that tested my faith and hope.
Speaking of which, after giving birth to my rainbow baby, the rollercoaster of emotions kicked in again, and this time this was triggered by an unexpected case of Sepsis after the delivery.
It is those two examples that brought me to the tough realisation that, wounds do not heal unless you do.
Speaking of which I must clarify that whilst you may already have a preconceived idea of what these wounds are, I'm referring to the all encompassing definition which recognises a wound as both a physical and mental/emotional injury caused by a type of trauma.
Although 9 months ago I left the hospital ward with neatly wrapped bandages over my dissolvable stitches to cover a fresh wound, what hid beneath were layers and layers of open wounds that awaited healing. Wounds that were now representative of another hurdle within this ongoing battle that would eventually leave scar tissue to these wounds that continued to weep.
After coming to terms with what had happened, the past few months have caused me to relive pockets of the experiences I had in that short 48 hour nightmare weekend, and in turn has manifested into flashbacks, nightmares , unwanted thoughts, and moments of severe anxiety. It has taken me months to understand what was going on in my mind, until I prayed about this one evening when my thoughts were extremely heavy, and within a few days I came across an article on Tommy's charity website which had confirmed the very symptoms I had been experiencing.
After reading the article, and eventually seeing the same research appear as a news headline on TV , all of a sudden everything that I had felt and experienced over the past few weeks felt validated.
In ' layman's terms' Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur following exposure to any traumatic event such as a natural disasters, accidents or violent/near death experiences.
It feels like a challenge to try and explain how it feels to experience PTSD, so the best example is to use is a ‘Gas and Brake’ Analogy (sorry to those of you who have never driven a manual car lol ).
Example 1) I get excited about finally plucking up some courage to schedule with a new therapist, hoping to accelerate my progress in healing, but then my brakes slam as my PTSD is triggered causing mood instability, and I have to cancel. My excitement has now turned to anxiety about rescheduling and how I’ll be perceived.
Example 2) After lockdown is over (as if), I feel excitement and anxiety simultaneously, as I fall for the trap of long-term PTSD worst-case thinking. By the way, the worst case scenario thinking is very extemely heightened due to the global current affairs . so if I plan for a night out with my girls and have been excited for weeks, then the anxiety creeps in , and the smallest thought such as having too much to drink becomes the biggest thought such as what if I have a bad fall after drinking and sustain a life changing injury.
Example two is loaded I know, but this is how serious PTSD is, it becomes harder to think about what i'm thinking. I recognise that those types of thoughts are usually responses to triggers, such as a movie or documentary that has a dramatic birth storyline or a life saving operation scene, the smell of a something clinical, or unfortunately even some beautiful triggers such as a birth announcement or birthing video.
In other words, the world is still supposedly spinning and life is still happening whilst I try and avoid or deal with these triggers, and after reading that:
70 percent of adults experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime
20 percent of people who experience a traumatic event will develop PTSD
About 8 million people have PTSD in a given year
1 in 13 people will develop PTSD at some point in their life
I am confident that recognising that I need to deal with this is the first step. I'm currently seeking therapy and counselling. I recognise that I have layers upon layers of wounds that are healing and some which are yet to even start the process. So like I said earlier, whilst PTSD is no longer confined to the 18th century association to combat and war participation. I recognise that this is a war of the mind and accepting that as well as addressing it is one of the first steps towards winning the battle.
As one would say, you have to celebrate the small victories hey ? (pun intended)...
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
― C.S. Lewis