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Sufferer Me, My Dissociation, My Ptsd, And I: A Love Story (except For The Love Part)

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Just Sayin'

I just want to get some of these things out of my head … and it's hard (for me at least) to try to connect from an authentic place if I don't own my story.

Talking about it with family and friends doesn’t help. They can’t really understand, and there’s the fact that they’re already suffering from it too (because of me). Still, it’s not like I haven’t talked. I’m a “verbal processor” – it seems like I can’t deal with things unless I talk them out. (Of course, that's probably not true -- I'm not actually dealing with them by talking them out). I’m afraid I’m wearing people out, even my therapist, with the rumination and circular thinking that I can’t resolve.

I started therapy about four years ago, and I moved the next year. I found another therapist about two and a half years ago, but it some ways it was already “too late.”

At the end of 2008, I found out I was pregnant with my third child. She wasn’t planned, I didn’t have health insurance, and I was physically and emotionally exhausted. We (my husband and I) also had a 4 year old and 2 year old.

After my youngest was born, I requested an IUD. I was also diagnosed with post-partum depression, which seemed odd since I had no issues after the birth of my other two. The IUD may have actually have been a mistake as well – there are several lawsuits now about emotional/mental side effects, but at the time it was the supposed to have been the greatest thing ever.

I barely remember what happened next. There are months missing from my memory. My husband started using the term “flipping” to describe a switch between “me” and some unrecognizable harpy who was paranoid, intensely defensive, and who could not, under any circumstances, admit to being wrong or even questioned. I’m sure that’s a pretty accurate description, but like I said, I don’t remember it.

I did have the first clue about dissociation/depersonalization/derealization at the time. I just know that I don't think I felt real at all between 2009 and earlier this year.

My husband tried to talk to me about it at the time and for a year or so, but I didn’t understand what he was saying. One – I didn’t remember it. Two – I’m pretty sure that the paranoia + defensiveness + avoidance + denial didn’t make me a prime candidate for enlightenment. Eventually, he stopped trying to convince me and became avoidant. I just kept desperately and ferociously clung to believing that I wasn’t losing my mind and that I wasn’t out of touch with reality.

Until I couldn’t anymore.

When I began questioning my sanity and whether I was even capable of determining what was real or part of the paranoia, I completely shut down. Not just emotionally. Completely. I vacated my mind, and I just do not remember any of it.

Time went by, as it tends to do, and I started trying to slip back into myself. It presented as questions about identity and meaning. I tried to figure out why my husband was so distant. I desperately wanted connection and intimacy. I begged for him to help me. But, neither of us really new what we were up against.

I felt abandoned and lost. I still didn’t feel like the world was real … or maybe it was, but I wasn’t. I felt like I was standing in the middle of a crowded room, screaming at the top of my lungs, and no one could hear me. I felt afraid. I started panicking. I started not remembering things again.

We couldn’t get anywhere in working on our marriage, which I realize now was just the “Quick, find something to fix!” tendency (control and false hope) and a way to project my issues on to my husband and our marriage (denial and avoidance).

As you can imagine, that didn’t work out.

There was always this increasing fear and panic … I felt stuck. I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t move and I couldn’t change anything. I felt helpless and powerless and abandoned by my husband.

It was not too long before my marriage ended that my husband brought up the idea that maybe it’s PTSD. I, of course, knew better because “there’s nothing wrong with me.”

I even accused my husband of gaslighting me … while he was trying to give me the help I’d been asking for and the support I needed to keep us together.

It wasn’t until after I left the marriage and had an official diagnosis of Complex-PTSD that I was able to stop denying and avoiding it. It took another year to stop denying and avoiding that that, not my husband's inattentiveness, is what caused the divide and that led to or contributed to or outright caused the things that led to the end of our marriage – including the feeling of being so helpless and powerless that it was hopeless to try.

I’ve spent the last year trying to talk through and explain all of that and how it doesn’t have to be that way, but we didn’t know and I denied and didn’t accept what exactly we were dealing with. My husband says he wants to want to try again, but there are things he’s not sure he can get past. The distancing and the distrust are palpable. And, I do understand that.

But it’s still tragic, and there’s really nothing I can do about it. I feel helpless and powerless and rejected from inside a relationship again, and I know that I can’t stay in that place – it’s a massive trigger for the anxiety, panic attacks, and dissociation. Oddly enough, that’s exactly how I felt when I decided on the divorce and it was a cycle of my feeling that way, alienating him, my feeling that way …

I guess that I had kind of hoped that knowing there was a “reason” or “cause” and that because the PTSD is at least somewhat understandable and at least somewhat manageable that it would be enough to re-evaluate and get help together and separately. But it might not be.

So many people hurt … my husband, my kids … because I paid my trauma and abuse forward without realizing it. Not one of us has deserved this, and I struggle with feeling responsible.

And the survivor’s guilt is a new pain. Now that I’ve fully accepted the PTSD and its role, I have hope that I can do better than I’ve done. My ex-husband is mistrustful … and angry … and it doesn’t seem right or fair for me to say that with or without him I need to move on to get healthy and that I need to heal when it was me and my childhood trauma including abandonment (!!!) that did all of this. Essentially, I’m doing/have done exactly what was done to me to someone I love. It doesn’t matter that if I didn’t know it or couldn’t/wouldn’t see it. It doesn’t matter that initial trauma wasn’t my fault. He’s still hurt. It’s still me that did it. And I’m not sure I’ll have the chance to even try to make that right.

And I will make it right if I can, but staying in a holding pattern while he figures out whether he “can” work on it means staying in emotional space of an insecure, ambivalent, uncertain, unstable relationship where I’m hypervigilant of any sign of rejection, which is, in and of itself, an anxiety trigger. Let’s not even discuss what actual rejection does. Just the fear of it is enough.

Fear = Extreme stress = Dissociation/Emotional Flashbacks/and other PTSD Symptoms. I really just don’t know how much longer I can stay in this space. So here I am...

This is where I begin. As a first step, I'm working on developing a stronger sense of self and keeping my mouth shut when I a) am not sure what exactly I'm reacting to or b) when it's repetitive, obsessive, and unhelpful circular logic. Of course, most of that has to do with finding better (and non-negative) coping mechanism for the anxiety, panic, and emotional flashbacks that make me feel like I'm everywhere at once and "hunted" (totally feels like running through the woods away from someone I can't see -- and who I can't be sure is even really there -- to shoot me and make jerky out of me). So tips, tricks, thoughts and comments about navigating that process are most definitely welcome!
You sound like you know yourself so well and I think that is really the beginning to being on the right track to wellness. You should be proud of yourself for taking steps to start to heal, for putting it out there for others to read, and for educating yourself so thoroughly on what is going on inside of you. One of the hardest things I had to work on was being able to take some me time when I started to go "there", and having people around me understand that if I didn't have that me time, then I was not going to be pleasant to be around. (or maybe even less pleasant to be around?). Thank you for sharing your story, I hope you find some help here :) x
@Just Sayin', I'm sorry you had to go through all of this, but I wanted to reply and let you know that I read what you wrote. I think you did a great job at laying this out. I look forward to reading more of what you have to write.
One of the hardest things I had to work on was being able to take some me time when I started to go "there"

That's the truth, @Silver-lr! I find that with the compounding abandonment thing it creates an awful push-pull. "I want you, I want you, I want you ... now go away..."

Worst. Duck, Duck, Goose Game. Ever.

But, you're right, sometimes I'm just only okay if I'm alone and accepting that is as hard as explaining it!

Thank you for your insight.
I also send a welcome and wishes for healing. I strongly agree with what the others have said. Therapy...me time...so true.

Suggestions... Keep life simple. Take care of yourself first. You can't work on relationships until you get yourself to a healthy place. Work on keeping life simple and living in the moment - be a friend to those you care about and do the right things for the right reason - when you are able - without worrying about the results or consequences. We weren't put on this earth to live up to other people's expectations of who we should be or what social media or "advertisers" try to convince us what we should "do" or "be". You're where you should be. You're doing great. Thanks for being here. Thanks for sharing.

Take a deep breath. Feed the birds. Have a bowl of ice cream. Take the kids for an ice cream.
3 kids? Wow. That sounds like a lot of energy......
....and keep working on those positive changes and directions when you are able. :tup:
Welcome to the forums :hug: I hope this place helps you. It's very useful because of the bulk amount of people who feel similar and understand. There is a lot of advice and support to be found here :) I hope that this amazing community helps you as much as it helped me, reading all the similar stories, and learning a lot along the way. Hugs if you accept :hug:
I feel for you, for I have pushed my family away because of denial. I don't know it this will help, but sometimes mindfull meditation ( Jon Kabat Zinn) helps me on the worst days get back in touch with myself.

I just want to get some of these things out of my head … and it's hard (for me at least) to try t...
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