Ten things I don’t hate about PTSD

I was officially diagnosed with PTSD a year and a half ago, but for the better part of the last decade that four letter word has been mentioned to me by more than a handful of mental health professionals. Like most people who receive this news I spent a while in denial, after that I was ashamed, and now I split my time between neutral and pissed off. Pissed off at the symptoms that keep me feeling broken.

A few weeks back I was enjoying one of those bad days. It was the first one for some time so this one in particular was kicking my ass. In an attempt to find some solace I spoke to a friend, one of those mentor types, and he had a peculiar suggestion. He empathized with the self-pity cycle surrounding all the downright shitty attributes to my specific mental quirks, going as far as to comment how easy it would be to come up with ten things I HATE about PTSD right off the cuff. Then he inquired if I had ever thought about the positive side to it. Clearly seeing the mixture of confusion and anger growing on my face he elaborated. See he believes, as do I that everything that exists in the material world has a sense of duality to it. Under that logic if there is a negative to something there must be a positive as well. Therein lied my challenge, to come up with ten good things about my PTSD… so here goes.

Ten good things about PTSD…shit:

  1. I always know how many exits there are in any given room and I have probably already visualized multiple different disasters or violent events and which escape route would be the best for each.
  2. I have an incredibly fine tuned gut when it comes to people. I can tell without even having a conversation with someone but by hearing them speak, watching them move across a space, and their facial features as they express different emotions whether or not they are likely to be safe.
  3. That ability to read people has given me a talent in picking out the best people, the gems amongst the coal. With very little difficulty I am able to find these remarkable humans that possess a level of genuine sincerity that is to be admired.
  4. I have about the same information and working knowledge about grounding exercises as most clinical physicians.
  5. This gives me a unique ability for helping people who may be too scared to go to one yet.
  6. It grants me quite a transparent and raw approach to parenthood, I have conversations with my kids that I think most moms would probably be intimidated having. Because my life in run on extremes. When it comes to communicating with other humans it’s either absolute surface or let me show you my soul and see if you understand. There’s not much in between. It allows me a very beautiful relationship with those kids.
  7. I have incredibly fast reflexes. Whether it comes to avoiding car accidents or catching a child moments before their cute little face meets sidewalk; unfortunately the racing heartbeat afterwards is less than enjoyable, but se la vie.
  8. Due to the gratuitous amount of trauma therapy I am painfully aware of the importance of self-care, I have a very in tune relationship with myself. I guess that’s always the upside to being crazy if you’re actually attempting to take care of it, or work on it, or just survive you tend to pay attention to things that other people probably don’t have to. Like actively altering your self-talk to make sure that it’s positive or ensuring that you don’t go longer than a week without taking a shower even if you don’t want to. Like making yourself bubble baths even when the idea of sitting in one sounds awful, but so does everything else. So you draw the bath and you light the candles and you turn on whatever music seems enjoyable or at least the most tolerable and you just sit there trying your best just to sit, even if it’s just for ten minutes.
  9. You are never bored even when you want to be. Your brain is always going, always thinking. Upside of that is with practice and focus you can turn the ever racing thoughts into creative things. Which means even as an adult you have an incredibly powerful imagination.
  10. You’re not alone. Even though you feel that way. When I was diagnosed I was in denial for a really long time. I kept repeating over and over in my head that I didn’t have that traumatic of a life. I didn’t really tell anyone for a while, not even those in my immediate support network. And it wasn’t until I just happened to be driving in the car with this woman I knew, not that well but we were friendly. Out of nowhere she mentions that she has PTSD and like a kid almost giddy I responded with “So do I!” There is something really beautiful about finally being able to talk to some other person about the shadow people who you see on occasion when things get bad. And to not have them look at you with this twisted face of confusion and want to be compassion, but the truth is if you don’t live it, if you haven’t felt it and you don’t know it; you have no idea what it’s like. But when you open yourself up, you realize that you’re not alone. When you finally find other people that do get it, your brain doesn’t have to feel like a cage anymore. All those strange quirks that you have, the ones that you would never want to admit in public just become simple jokes between friends.

Children suck now.

I adore children, I love (some of them) instantly. I had been a day care teacher for six years. Until I just couldn’t anymore. Because children are dicks now! And watching home movies with my Babci (grandma in Polish) and my older sister tonight just proved that all the more.

My sister was making Easter eggs with my sister when she was one and my Babci dropped an egg in the bowl on accident. No one said a word. My sister and I, simply watching the movie said, “Oh NO!” and were more worried about it than they were in that moment.

We noticed a lot of other situations like this, where the whole bath tub fell to the floor and everyone remained calm and were even laughing about the situation. These days, moms would be in a panic and be riddled with self-doubt about their parenting skills.

And my sister hit the nail on the head. It is because we live with the world, with all it’s calamities and crises, at the snap of a finger.

My Babci said they didn’t have words like “hyper,” “anxious,” or “stressed” back then. They just weren’t.

So parents have anxieties and they want to give their kids everything. Kids are entitled, and they are going too quickly. They are growing up wayy too fast. Why does your toddler need to know how to use your smart phone? Back in my day, we just had silly little airplanes that you pulled and the propeller moved. That was some hot shit right there.

Back in my day, we got milk drunk and hung out on plastic play houses.

Becca Playhouse

Back in my day, we washed cars and went to church.

Becca Peter washing carBecca Mom Church

Back in my day, we had stupid outfits and wore huge ass glasses.

Becca both parentd

Children now have no patience, no awareness of how grand a bubble can be after the age of two. Life is fast-paced, parents are overworked and over stressed. Children are hyper and parents are anxious.

Is technology really helping us, or is it making us sick? Our quality of life is suffering because everything is too easy now. And I know this is nothing original, but I just had to share these brilliant 90s pictures with you, and to maybe get someone to see that nature and a box is all you need to make your kid happy. And even before that, what they need is to be taught to RESPECT people.

Back in my day, we would never DREAM of hitting an elder. They were our caretakers, they were our protectors, they were not our friends or our gossip buddies.
They did not owe us anything, but gave us everything we needed.
And while I did not have the most stable home life, coming from seeing and experiencing domestic violence growing up because of my father’s mental illness, I still envy that time over this, at times.

Now, I have all the freedom in the world to be me because I don’t have my dictator father looking over my shoulder, but I do not have the freedom to believe I can make it in this world as an editor. I have two college degrees and I am jobless.
Everyone wants the best, the fastest, the brightest.

There is no room for mediocre in this world anymore.

But the trouble is, not everyone can be Sally Ride (the first American woman in space) or Jordan Belfort (fast-talking, slimey business man).

I do not have the brains of a scientist. I do not have the bravery of a Wall-Street “accountant.” I have PTSD. I am lucky if I have a reply to “good morning” to my downstairs neighbor on some days. My brain cells are not firing as they should because they are too busy trying to survive. I coward around affluent or intimidating (a.k.a. people who seemingly have their shit together whatsoever) people because I did not have trust in my father, my protector, not to hurt me, so how can I trust anyone else?

Yet, still, times were simpler back then.

My mother got her master’s degree in Library school hoping to make a decent living for her family. It was reasonable to believe she could. (And you could tell she was a librarian, just check out those glasses).

But fast forward to 2007 and people with only a high school education are making thousands more than her a year.

How are we supposed to hope and dream for our future when professions that are accessible to all are being closed down or are paid minimally at best?

How about we slow down and give kids the only things they need; books and manners?

Kid fashion

Suicidal toddlers

By Siobhan-

Killer Toddler.jpg

At this point in my life, I have been a mother for the last 8 years -which boggles my mind in and of itself. My first born came ripping through me a month and a half after my 18th birthday. So, essentially I have had kids my entire adulthood. In that time I have picked up some wisdom, I have begun to gray far too young, and I have developed an incredibly dark viewpoint on motherhood. The first two are unavoidable in my opinion while working the ultimate “learn-on-the-job” gig. But the last one is how I keep my sanity intact amongst the chaos that is actively not killing the three mini-overlords that call me mom. Only by laughing (sometimes literally) in the face of danger am I able to avoid a trip to the psych ward. Especially when it comes to toddlerdom.

Now, before you think this is another one of those mom rants on the terror that is a two year old, just hold on. Don’t get me wrong mood swings at two are tough, but so are meltdowns at three and four and five and you get the picture.

My biggest issue with my current beautiful bundle turned dictator is that he’s constantly trying to kill himself, albeit in new and creative methods. Experience tells me that this is not unique to my youngest. Both of his older siblings went through a similar seemingly accidental suicidal stage at this age as well. To help illustrate this phenomenon, let me paint you a word picture. Imagine a beautifully warm mid-summer afternoon, a friend of mine offers an extra set of hands to aid in taking my middle child, a kind-hearted seven-year-old girl, and my youngest, the aforementioned suicidal rambunctious two year old boy, to a day at the pool. To set the scene, we are at an immaculately-maintained resort pool that we were not guests of, nor did we pay for day passes. My friend Nick, who happens to be a large intimidating-looking tattooed man, and myself, with all (well most) of my tattoos showing, along with long, pointed black nails and my oversized black and white sun hat looking like a vintage gothic goddess.

Needless to say, amongst the J.Crew catalogue families along the poolside, we stuck out. As we made our approach, Nick leaned in to whisper, “They’re gonna smell the poor on us.” A concept that has never kept me from living it up boujee style. There I am, being not so subtlety gawked at by four tan blonde housewives, perched on the side of the kiddie pool as two thirds of my reasons for living are gleefully splashing amidst Western New York’s well-to-do. Seamus, the youngest of my brood, was shrieking (rather loudly) with delight at one of the waterfalls in the splash pool. Yes, you read that correctly, there was not one, but two waterfalls in the kiddie pool at this place! His laughter is one of those magical kid sounds that blots out the nastiness of this world. As I watched him play, poised on the edge of the pool, I was having a conversation with Nick. Not about anything in particular, just some random bullshit. And multiple times, Seamus would just be standing there, playing with the waterfall, my attention in that way that only moms know how to do. Where I can be fully engulfed in conversation with an adult, and somehow, seemingly without even looking at my child, know the exact moment when that beautiful little face decides to go plunging, freefall style, into the water. And makes no attempt at standing. No attempt to pull his face from said water.

Kid in water

As he is actively trying to drown his tiny, little two-year-old body, without even skipping a beat in conversation, I loop my hand under his armpit and stand him back up. Without even turning my gaze to his precious cough-face, I give him a few loving taps on the back and go back to whatever meaningless subject my friend and I were discussing. This happens, I kid you not, at least ten times, in succession. At this point, Nick’s face has that twisted, horrified look that all non-parents get when they begin to realize that all those fanciful dreams of having children someday are insane. He keeps looking back and forth, his eyes darting from small creature attempting suicide to tranquil mother attempting to have her talk. Something I desperately search for, because adult conversations are so rare when you are this outnumbered. We’re at three to one —a child to parent ratio that should never exist for one’s sanity. And so, you graciously hold onto any grown-up conversation you can get. Even as the youngest of your offspring is doing his best to off himself. Actively trying to end his short life before he has even enjoyed the breaths of it. Breaths of which he is liberally taking underwater. It’s moments such as these that I cease wondering why there isn’t some sort of screening process, some type of licensing procedure before a person is allowed to procreate. Because honestly, who would pass? Only the off kilter have what it takes for this undertaking. Only the beautifully ill-informed willing march towards this, the most thankless of jobs. So here’s to you, sweatpants-clad wonder woman. To successfully thwarting yet another endeavor made by our tiny tyrants to kill themselves. And more impressive still, for not taking care of the deed for them.