Living with PTSD

Hello to my harmonious readers. After my operation, (please read My Traumatic Hysterectomy) I came home feeling debilitated and deathly ill. I had jolts of electricity racing throughout my body. My heart was beating at a rapid rate.  I later found out that because I hemorrhaged and lost so much blood, my heart had to speed up to reproduce the lost blood. I was paralyzed with fear that my heart was going to stop beating. My thoughts went to a dark place, and I became paranoid that I was going to die. It felt like my mind was attacking me. I was stuck in a constant state of anxiety.

I had many cardiologist appointments, which was another nightmare as I had developed an intense fear of hospitals and doctors. Every time I entered a hospital, I felt like I would have a nervous breakdown and have to run to the toilets. Finally, after many tests, my cardiologist booked me in for a procedure to test my heart by sending small electric shots through a wire so that they could see where the problem was. I also had to be awake for the procedure. I was shaking with fear as this went on. It felt like time had stopped while they were jolting my heart. Finally, the cardiologist said, that’s it, it’s over. My heart was calm and quiet. They had shocked it back to a normal rhythm. It was the best it had felt in weeks.  I had to ask my cardiologist whether it was still beating. I thought now that my heart is fixed, all my troubles are over.

I was wrong.  I didn’t realize I had anxiety. I thought all my problems were physical related. Over months my anxiety continued to get worse, and I developed severe depression and insomnia. I was in a relentless state of having adrenaline run rampant throughout my body. I would sit alone on my sofa late at night having panic attacks. I felt so alone. No one else could ever know how bad I felt. I finally went to see a doctor who gave me a script for valium. The medication seemed to calm down the anxiety just enough so that I could get some sleep. Unfortunately, the valium quickly ran out, and I was back to the doctor looking for another solution.

Another doctor consulted me and gave me a script for an antidepressant. I felt that I didn’t need this. I strongly believed that my problem wasn’t mental, that there was something wrong with my body. I couldn’t understand why the doctors weren’t taking more notice. After 2 days of taking the antidepressant, my heart went tachycardiac again. I quickly stopped taking the medication. I thought that this meant I was right that my problem wasn’t mental.

I spent a further 3 years living in hell. I didn’t feel like a viable person. I struggled to leave the house as my anxiety controlled my life. I stopped being alive. I didn’t feel like me anymore. I struggled to remember what I was like before my surgery. My thoughts weren’t mine. It was like something had taken over my body. I couldn’t think clearly. My mind raced with intrusive thoughts. I felt that I was going crazy, like I was the most mental person in the world. I feared that if I spoke to anyone about my feelings, they would lock me up in a nuthouse.

I tried to keep it together for my family, but I would constantly find myself in a hysterical state. At times all I wanted to do was curl up in a corner and close the world off. I lived with unrelenting fear and panic over what my mind and body were doing to me. I knew that some of the thoughts that I was having weren’t real, but I couldn’t control my body. I struggled if any outside family members wanted to visit, or my girls had friends over. I just wanted to hideaway. When leaving the house, my hands would shake uncontrollably, especially if I needed to sign a document or use my credit card. No one seemed to be able to help me. It got to the point that being alive was extremely hard work.  I could never shut off this terrible anxiety. I did try seeing a psychologist, but I found that my anxiety overcame the treatments. 

Several months down the track, I had my millionth nervous breakdown, so I decided I would see yet another doctor and hope for a miracle that I could receive help. The doctor gave me a script for another antidepressant and sent off a referral to see a psychiatrist. I was reluctant to take another antidepressant as I was sure that it would set off my heart. Still, the doctor insisted that this medication had hardly any side effects and would help with my insomnia and anxiety. Well, I tried it, and at first, it didn’t feel very good, mentally I didn’t feel any better, but after a couple of weeks, my mood improved.  I wasn’t great, but I was able to deal with life.

I attended my psychiatrist appointment, and I was diagnosed with PTSD and severe anxiety. My psychiatrist and I tried many antidepressants before I found the medication that was right for me. It took a lot of trial and error. My psychiatrist told me they don’t know what will work and what won’t, as everyone is different. I had endured horrendous anxiety and depression for long enough, and it had finally lifted. I felt human again, and I was a lot happier than I had been in years. I was no longer sitting up all night, petrified that I was going to die. Life became so much better. My psychiatrist told me that I would have to be on medication for the rest of my life, but I don’t care. Quantity of life is worth nothing without quality.

If you’re struggling as well, don’t give up. Find a treatment that works for you. If you have tried an antidepressant and it hasn’t worked, don’t give up on taking antidepressants altogether.  Work with your doctor, psychiatrist, and psychologist to find the right medication and treatment plan. I found it troubling when I saw comments on anxiety forums warning others not to take a particular antidepressant because it was horrible for them. Then I would feel anxious about trying that antidepressant. However, it’s important to note that was their experience. It’s not yours. Every human body is different. What didn’t work for one might work for another, and if you are concerned about a medication, talk with your specialist.

By Tanya

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