PTSD and Life 4

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It all rests on me. I know your knee-jerk reaction is to say “no, of course it doesn’t” but it does. 100% of my life, and my kids’ lives, depends on only me. There is absolutely no one else. Do I have some friends? Yes. But that’s not the same. I’m not sure how to explain it except in the way I discussed it with a professor lately. There should be someone else who loves my kids and cares for them as much as I do. That the person who should, does not, it itself an enormous burden.

When I was young, I was taken to church a lot. Like, almost all the time. The church lied and lied. They told me that if I was a good girl, my parents would stop beating me. So I tried to be good, tried to be perfect, but I couldn’t, so my parents continued to beat me. So great was the fear that my brother and I took two hours each day to walk the 8 blocks home from school.

Then religious people convinced me that this was the case because my parents weren’t “real” Christians. Just so long as I was a “real” Christian, this wouldn’t repeat itself. These same people assured me that my ex was such a good and godly man from a good and godly family that everything would be fine. He started abusing me the day we got married, he really hasn’t stopped, I just don’t have to encounter him as much. But the damage from a lifetime of abuse (by my parents, my ex, and religion) is already done. There is no way out.

I was reading a weird article yesterday about PTSD. It was interesting in that it pointed out that the reason women were more likely to suffer from PTSD is that they are more likely to be repeatedly sexually assaulted. From childhood far into adulthood, women are subjected to a near constant barrage of sexual aggression from men. Unfortunately, the article said that it takes mean about a year to recover from PTSD and women four years.

Recover? What the hell? It’s about time we start talking about the fact that there is no 100% recovery from PTSD. It is forever. Because, unlike regular anxiety and depression, PTSD is about what already happened to you. It isn’t a chemical imbalance that some medication can help. (Yes, I know regular anxiety and depression can last a lifetime, and that needs to be addressed as well.) You can’t undo what’s been done. You can only find a way to live with it.

And therein lies the problem. How to live with it. So many people say “therapy” but therapists are mostly useless. The free clinic I was in for several years did absolutely nothing to address my PTSD. I did talk with another MFT last week who knew of the clinic I went to, however, and what she said gave me hope that somewhere, out there, is someone who can help.

But, then, we come to the next problem. Therapy, good therapy, costs money. Most people with PTSD do not have that kind of money. You might love Obamacare, but it’s just like all the other insurance out there, useless to anyone suffering from a mental health issue.

Years and years ago, I heard a song once, but it stuck with me. It was about a girl who met a guy and they seemed to hit it off so he invited her for dinner and gave her his address on Hope Road. Well, this is an old song so there was no GPS, I guess, but she took the train out and discovered, there was no Hope Road. And that’s how the song ends, with her repeatedly saying “There is no Hope Road.”

And that’s the truth of PTSD. That’s what people with PTSD have to face every day. We know this will never end. We know the vast majority of people around us don’t give a fuck and just want us to go away or at least pretend everything is fine.

We have to make up our own hope. And I do.

Today I will email my Calc prof to see if she thinks I ought to drop when I talk with admin on Wednesday along with my Chem prof. I’m leaning toward it, seriously. I’ve been studying all weekend, but the thought of the exams makes my brain go into a panic. Everything is riding on my grades. EVERYTHING.

I told my kids this weekend that I might change my major to Journalism and make it a minor in Bio. I’m just really not sure my PTSD will allow for more than that. I’ll still be able to do some of what I wanted, just not the research. But I could still communicate science to others, which really is my longing.

There is also the matter of our desire to move to Santa Barbara to attend school. That is looking less and less certain and was long before this term. See, I have five kids. I can only take four with me because family housing is two-bedroom. When we first planned this, I assumed my oldest would be on his own and self-sufficient once I graduated here. That’s not happening. However, he is looking into going to college. If he does, I need to stay here so he can finish out at Chaffey before he transfers. I’d like him to go up to SLO or Davis, give himself a start over.

And so, my dreams, as good parents know all too well, are on the back burner. That’s just the way life is once you have kids. Sure, some parents aren’t that way, but they suck. My view of parenting is “You had the kid, they didn’t ask to be born. YOU owe THEM.”

I have always made up my hope. It’s how you survive a childhood like mine. And that is how billions of people do it every day. We get up, we put up with stupid people’s judgement of our suffering, and we press on.

We all know there “is no hope road,” but we can at least find a way to make each day more bearable.

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