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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) board

Sorry this is so long...

Let me just state at the beginning that my relationships with others have never been healthy. Growing up, my father was an emotional fascist - meaning that we weren't allowed to show any negative emotions or voice any opinions that didn't coincide with his own. Consequently, I grew up suppressed, unable to voice my wants and needs, and in the habit of doing for others without any thought to myself.

Fast forward to my first marriage. Married at 19 to a man who was even more emotionally damaged and immature as myself. He needed a mommy. I needed a daddy. Neither of us were able to voice our own needs, let alone meet one another's. We had 2 beautiful children within the first 3 years of our marriage and I was the sole caregiver. He wouldn't have anything to do with them. We were married 6 years when I left. Was so desperate to get out of there that he got everything, except for the kids, some minor furniture, and our personal items (clothing). It's not that he was abusive or anything like that. I just couldn't handle the neglect. Everyone was more important than his wife and children. I figured it wouldn't be any different on my own, and without the emotional burdens that the neglect heaped upon us.

Found out I was right. And the new environment made a huge difference for the children. My daughter's asthsma almost completely disappeared and my son's behavior problems did a complete 180. It also made a huge difference for me. For the first time in my life, at 26, I finally realized what it was to live without this awful feeling of pressure on me. It wasn't easy supporting two children on my own, but somehow I did it. For 4 years I did it. What I didn't realize was that this was the calm before the storm.

All of our mutual friends turned their backs on me after I left. After all, I had "betrayed" my husband by leaving. Bad me. This period of time was when I realized just how lonely I really was. I needed to be needed. I needed to be appreciated. I needed a man in my life to tell me I was still desirable and a good person. Considering that I started referring to myself as 'used goods' was probably a sign of trouble right there. Did my therapist catch on? No. So man after man entered and left my life. Until I met 'Steve'.

Steve was bad for me from the get-go. He was an alcoholic and a meth user. He had serious emotional problems. He was manipulative and a liar. He was unemployed. But I thought he was wonderful because he said all the right things. And after all, he "needed" me. He'd been married and divorced 3 times prior to meeting me. Red flags? What red flags?

We all moved in together about 4 months after we met. His alcohol use went from 1 to 4 liters of vodka a week. He was still unemployed and I was the sole breadwinner. He then started having bouts of anger. He'd scream, yell, throw things around, bang on the walls. Frankly, it scared the bejeebers out of me, but I couldn't leave. After all, all my money was being tied up by supporting the 4 of us. He began to complain about watching the kids between the time they got home from school and the time I got home from work, so I hired a babysitter. Then one day he came home and told me he'd decided to go into the fulltime manufacturing and distribution of meth.

I freaked! I didn't know who to go to. I told a couple of friends about the situation and one of them called the cops. So, Friday night, the week before christmas, I get this phonecall at work. It was the local sheriff. He said I had a choice: either I could cooperate and have immunity, or I could not cooperate and would face charges. Choice? What choice?

So after work, I met up with the police and they told me they were going to raid the house. They also needed someone to go in first. That turned out to be me. So, in I go, with two detectives and two officers behind me. While they searched the house, I called the ex and told him the kids would need a place to stay for awhile. I packed bags for them and me and got out of there and we never went back. I hired some people to get our stuff out of the house and put it into storage. I had to fall off the face of the earth for awhile because I was afraid Steve's friends would come looking for me. I ended up living in a broken down trailer, only seeing the kids when their father decided I could. It was he**!

11 months after all this happened, I was supposed to see the kids that night after work. Stopped to pick up my Mom, because she missed the kids too. We approached the house and saw all kinds of fire engines, police, etc. Didn't think much of it at the time. We then walked into the house to find my ex's sister waiting for us in the kitchen. She told us there'd been an accident and both the children had been airlifted to the local trauma center. She didn't have any further news.

Mom and I rushed to the hospital. Outside the ER, the ex and his wife were standing there. He didn't even look at me. He just said "Cassie didn't make it". My knees buckled and I think that's when I went into emotional shock. Mom and I went inside to find out about Alex. Alex was still in surgery. I asked to see Cassie and was led into a room in back. She looked like she was sleeping. The only anomalies were the tube down her throat and the drops of blood still coming from her ears. I wanted to touch her. I wanted to hold her and scream! But I just stood there, staring, afraid to do anything, afraid of what others would think of me (yeah, even in that situation it rears it's ugly head). To this day I can still smell her blood.

Later, the drs came to the waiting room and told us Alex was out of surgery. He was in the ICU in critical condition and we could see him for a few minutes. There he was, hooked up to more tubes and monitors than I thought possible. The only way I recognized him was from a mole on his right cheek, his face being so swollen. There was nothing we could do, so we left (weren't allowed to stay in the ICU), waiting for a phone call to tell us if there was an improvement in his condition or not.

The phonecall came at 3am that night. The coroner was calling to let us know that Alex had died. The following week is all a blur. Funeral preparations, the funeral itself, and everything inbetween and after.

Fast forward 4 years. During that time, I hadn't properly grieved. I'd just pushed down the pain and kept going. I was so afraid that if I gave in to the pain, I'd break. I'd met a wonderful, supportive man and we'd been married all of 3 months when his grandfather became seriously ill. We went to see him in the cardiac care unit of the hospital. While standing there, I started getting flashbacks of Alex in the ICU. For the next 2 days these images haunted me. And then "D"-day came.

I got up for work, showered, got dressed, got all my stuff together. Went to walk out of the house.... and couldn't. I could not force myself to walk out that door. I was broken. Everything I'd suppressed for the past 4 years was coming up. I couldn't move. I finally found the energy to call hubby and told him what was going on. He left work and took me to one of the local mental health centers. Since I wasn't feeling the need to harm someone else or myself, they rejected me. Kept trying until we found a place that would take me.

This was when I was dx'd with having an "acute depressive episode" and was dx'd with depression, OCD, PTSD and acute anxiety disorder. After 2 weeks of treatment, they threw me out because that's all my insurance would pay for. I stopped taking the meds (Prozac) because the side effects were worse than the emotional garbage.

So here I am, 8 years later. Still damaged, but dealing. I've left out a lot of details regarding some of the personal interactions that have happened over the years, largely for the sake of this not being more of a book than it already is. I have scars on my soul and some wounds that will never heal. Anyway, feel free to ask any questions for clarification. I'm sure I've forgotten to put in a lot of stuff.

Thanks for being here.