Sufferer PTSD from childhood trauma, working in a prison, and cleaning up nephew’s suicide.

Ruining

New Here
I tried looking for “rules” before posting. I’ll try not to get too detailed or gruesome. But I’m so badly affected by my nephew’s suicide, I seem to be the only one who’s left with this amount of suffering.

I worked in a prison for six years, and I had the 24 hours of hyper-vigilance and constant mild anxiety, once people from work, (visitors and offenders after release) started recognizing me. One time, I was almost 2 hours from home and while walking downtown, I almost ran into a visitor I was very familiar with. Plenty enough death, violence, and officer assaults, that it makes you really keep up your awareness, even at home.

This sparked issues from childhood, (emotional and witnessing horrific physical abuse on my cousins/“brothers”) and I was diagnosed with PTSD for those reasons.

20 years ago, I took care of my brother’s twins as a kind of nanny while he was in prison. I raised them from ages 2 to about 7 when they started living with their dad again. But we stayed very close.

February 5th, 2019, my nephew took his own life with a single shot to the head from his .22 rifle. There were so many signs and opportunities for me/us to intervene. I went to see him in the hospital. He was airlifted 2-hours-drive away. He was on life support. Something would beep, and the room was frantic with white coats, and observers, and noise, then calm again. They weren’t trying to save him. They were waiting for permission to harvest his organs.

My mother, who had him when I didn’t, and his father, needed to access them house where it happened. I asked them to give me a day to get it cleaned up because I had already been to the house and I didn’t want them to see it. There was a tremendous amount of blood. There was other stuff that was identifiable. I tried to get rid of the emotion and just get it done.

I used to rock this boy to sleep every day and I would wrap him in his Sesame Street blanket and hold his head in my hands. I’d wrap my fingers in his long curls while he slept.

I found the blanket wrapped nicely in his closet, and I took it. It smelled like him. And then I started cleaning.

After that, I’ve been snappy and quick to anger. I’ve been extremely depressed and had constant suicidal ideations. I’m not working because of my OCD and major depressive disorder. I have an three year old, and it’s affecting my relationship to him because I keep him at arms length and avoid becoming too close.

My psychologist recommended hospitalization, but our hospitals in this state are just a suicide watch. I only talk to her once per month because of cost/insurance issues. There is no help. I can’t talk to my family because I don’t want them to know what it’s been like on me after doing the family the favor of cleaning up his kitchen. His father still thanks me occasionally die doing it, and if he finds out that I’m so bothered, he’ll probably start using again.

Anyway. I’m glad to see the forum here.
 

Friday

Moderator
Welcome to the community :)

I tried looking for “rules” before posting. I’ll try not to get too detailed or gruesome.
If you’re like me, and at least want at least a rough sketch to feel comfortable? And ideally a breakdown of what the actual rules -vs- how shit really plays out? We have very few rules around here... all found right here >>> Community Constitution <<<in addition to a candid overview laid out.


20 years ago, I took care of my brother’s twins as a kind of nanny while he was in prison. I raised them from ages 2 to about 7 when they started living with their dad again. But we stayed very close.
Speaking as a mom, who has also done kinship care? You’d be crazy not to be gutted by this. But you’re also smart as hell to be getting in front of shit continuing to go sideways. One of the cruelest things about PTSD, IMO, is getting locked in that moment. The raw overwhelming pain stealing any flicker, much less flooding, joy and warmth of recollection... that time usually brings to grief. Where they’re no less important to us, but far more 3 dimensional, far more “themselves” in hearts & minds, instead of locked in a 2D knife edge of pain & forced distance. I do. not. want. to shove the people I loved best inside of a steel box in my heart, becuase it hurts too much to even flicker my thoughts in their direction... I want to remember them with the love I felt for them when they lived, not just my own pain in their death. Stupid damn disorder. It sure complicates the hell out of grief.

Again, welcome to the community.
 

Ruining

New Here
Welcome to the community :)


If you’re like me, and at least want at least a rough sketch to feel comfortable? And ideally a breakdown of what the actual rules -vs- how shit really plays out? We have very few rules around here... all found right here >>> Community Constitution <<<in addition to a candid overview laid out.



Speaking as a mom, who has also done kinship care? You’d be crazy not to be gutted by this. But you’re also smart as hell to be getting in front of shit continuing to go sideways. One of the cruelest things about PTSD, IMO, is getting locked in that moment. The raw overwhelming pain stealing any flicker, much less flooding, joy and warmth of recollection... that time usually brings to grief. Where they’re no less important to us, but far more 3 dimensional, far more “themselves” in hearts & minds, instead of locked in a 2D knife edge of pain & forced distance. I do. not. want. to shove the people I loved best inside of a steel box in my heart, becuase it hurts too much to even flicker my thoughts in their direction... I want to remember them with the love I felt for them when they lived, not just my own pain in their death. Stupid damn disorder. It sure complicates the hell out of grief.

Again, welcome to the community.
Thank you for the reply. I haven’t been keeping him in the steel box, but more like a cradle, nursing the memory of cleaning his blood and brain and chunks of eyeball. I keep that memory close because as I age my memory is going. And I need something to hold onto. And I need to let go, but I’m scared to death I’ll lose him all over again. I don’t know of that makes sense.

I didn’t even recognize that all my other problems, (depression, anxiety, snapping at everyone,) were coming from this. I thought I had grieved. Then one day, walking through the kitchen, something hit me just right and I had a flashback. I never really understood what a flashback was before. Now I know I have a problem.
 

BlueRaccoon

New Here
I'm sorry for what you went through, it sounds horrible. I think it's a good step that you're admitting to yourself you're still suffering, and that you've come to this forum. I hope you find support here :)
 

woodsy1

Confident
Hello @Ruining,

You've been through a lot! And you've taken a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. I'm sure your central nervous system is a mess.

Trauma is so very hard on us. People who have not been through it cannot understand. Heck, half the battle for us is that we don't understand either.

You've taken a huge step in both reaching out to a therapist, even if you can only afford 1x per month for now, and in reaching out here. From my experience, half the battle is just getting to where you can talk about your trauma with people who can relate in similar ways.

I've not been through the same trauma as you have, but many of my symptoms are very similar. Some days it just feels like life will never get better and that it's just barely worth living. I get it. I spent 6 years there and am just beginning my journey back into the light.

That's the good news. There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. I heard that from enough people that I finally decided, if all these other people can come out of the darkness, so can I. Then I started groping for the light that would lead me out. It took a long time, but something finally changed and I started to come out little by little.

One of my biggest battles was to allow myself to be angry for my losses. That just wasn't allowed in my situation. When I broke that rule and just got angry as heck in a healthy way that didn't hurt anyone, I started to make progress.

Hang in there! Time alone does not heal all wounds, but change will come with time.

You've got a bunch of people here who will hear you out and relate to you in a non-judgemental way. You will find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Good to meet you, though sorry for the circumstances that lead to our meeting,
Woodsy
 

Ruining

New Here
Hello @Ruining,

You've been through a lot! And you've taken a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. I'm sure your central nervous system is a mess.

Trauma is so very hard on us. People who have not been through it cannot understand. Heck, half the battle for us is that we don't understand either.

You've taken a huge step in both reaching out to a therapist, even if you can only afford 1x per month for now, and in reaching out here. From my experience, half the battle is just getting to where you can talk about your trauma with people who can relate in similar ways.

I've not been through the same trauma as you have, but many of my symptoms are very similar. Some days it just feels like life will never get better and that it's just barely worth living. I get it. I spent 6 years there and am just beginning my journey back into the light.

That's the good news. There is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. I heard that from enough people that I finally decided, if all these other people can come out of the darkness, so can I. Then I started groping for the light that would lead me out. It took a long time, but something finally changed and I started to come out little by little.

One of my biggest battles was to allow myself to be angry for my losses. That just wasn't allowed in my situation. When I broke that rule and just got angry as heck in a healthy way that didn't hurt anyone, I started to make progress.

Hang in there! Time alone does not heal all wounds, but change will come with time.

You've got a bunch of people here who will hear you out and relate to you in a non-judgemental way. You will find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Good to meet you, though sorry for the circumstances that lead to our meeting,
Woodsy
Thank you for the reply. I’m sure you’re right, and I’ll keep checking in here and reading the forums. I’m at a point where I don’t think I’ve ever been ‘happy.’ That’s likely the cloud I’m under right now. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but it’s always paid off in some way. This, though, is my biggest regret; I should never have entered that room.
 

Deanna

MyPTSD Pro
You've got a bunch of people here who will hear you out and relate to you in a non-judgemental way. You will find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Yeah.. I had to let my brother go. He died the same way. A .22 to the head. I was out of the house and lived in a different state at the time. My step-mom found him. He lived in the hospital for a couple of days on life support, but when the decision was made to shut it off.. he died. I don't know who cleaned it up or if the carpet was replaced.. I didn't ever go to that house again. I can't imagine

I'm posting this to say, yeah, I know. I'm so sorry that you cleaned it up and then was mortified. That happened to me when my grandfather died in my arms. I thought I was strong enough to handle it but I broke down afterwards. He died of natural causes and was in a nursing home with family standing around him in the end. I'm the only one who hugged him ( with my arms around his neck) and said it was okay to go Everyone else just stood there watching him.. which was unnerving to me.
 
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woodsy1

Confident
Thank you for the reply. I’m sure you’re right, and I’ll keep checking in here and reading the forums. I’m at a point where I don’t think I’ve ever been ‘happy.’ That’s likely the cloud I’m under right now. I’ve been through a lot in my life, but it’s always paid off in some way. This, though, is my biggest regret; I should never have entered that room.
You are welcome. I lived 6 years in that state of never being happy, but also in completely debilitating depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc. It was 24/7/365 torment. I thought I was going to white knuckle my way through the rest of my life.

Then something changed. I decided I could not accept that state of existing for the rest of my life. I got off my couch and started trying everything to find something pleasant in life, something worth living for.

It didn't come over night. It took a lot of trial and error. I'm still working it out day by day, sometimes moment by moment. For me, the more I honestly face my thoughts and emotions, the better I feel.

Im seeing a therapist now. I'm forcing myself to socialize. I'm participating in these forums. It's not any one thing and it certainly doesn't come as quickly as we'd like. But it comes.

Im just sharing these thoughts to give you hope. The hardest part for me was thinking there was no hope. After I heard enough people say it got better for them, I realized it must be possible for me too!

We're all the same flesh and blood. If other people can recover, then I can too. That was my first hope.

You can heal and recover too. It may not seem like it now, but you will heal. You are taking steps in the right direction.

You will soon experience a little tiny bit of hope, peace, joy, something positive. Maybe just a laugh. When you do, hold on to that. It's the beginning of healing.

The rest comes in waves and windows. Waves of crushing agony, grief, emotional overwhelm or numbness, ugly stuff. Windows of light and peace. Typically the windows become more frequent and open wider over time.

Hang in there!
Woodsy
 

Friday

Moderator
And I need to let go, but I’m scared to death I’ll lose him all over again. I don’t know of that makes sense.
Yep.

That’s what I meant about the box. That there are seemingly 2 options... caught IN the worst moment of their lives, all the pain as fresh as the day it happened... or locked away, lost all over again, dishonoring their memory, list goes on.

When normal grief? You’re not cradling their body to your heart, nor losing them all over again. It’s not an either/or choice. They can still be in your thoughts every day, but without the blood. You remember their grin, and grin back, instead of collapse into keening heartbreak. The difference between holding their broken body, lurching step by lurching step, dragging them with you, and holding their hand as they walk and run beside you. It doesn’t leave them behind, to grieve. It gives them a new kind of life.

It’ll be hard with Covid... but if you can find an EMDR therapist? This is exactly the kind of thing that EMDR can be amazing for.
 

Kittie

Confident
You've found the right place to be heard and understood. It's shattering what you went through, I'm sorry it happened. I'm glad you're finding help, that's where healing begins. Its a heavy load on your heart. In parts of your description of grief, it spoke to my own heart. You aren't alone in those feelings. Lots of support can be found here. Best wishes!
 
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