What follows is my experience of post traumatic stress disorder. It is not clinically informed, and purely my own interpretation of what happened to me. If you think you (or a loved one) is suffering from PTSD please speak to your GP or health visitor
And can you tell me doctor why I still can't get to sleep
And why the Channel 7 chopper chills me to my feet
And what's this rash that comes and goes
Can you tell me what it means......
God Help Me.....
I was only nineteen, Redgum
Trauma and loss are common experiences for anyone who has been through a premature birth, whether your baby makes it, or sadly does not. You grieve for the birth experience you dreamt about, for your baby's first weeks, for all sorts of things.
For me the post traumatic stress disorder did not start until over a month after Joseph came home. It made no sense to me. I was feeling dreadful yet Joseph was well.....
Sometimes, something stops the grieving process. Post traumatic stress disorder, to me, is like a computer virus. A worm, a trojan. The traumatised part of your conscience fragments, and it weedles its way through your brain, your memories, dragging out files and corrupting them, in an attempt to make sense of what has happened. It stops you from following your thoughts, from having insight, from making sense of what has happened, and letting go.
For example, the stanza of the song I have quoted, kept coming to my mind. I haven't heard the song in well over ten years, yet it played through my head over and over again. This virus dragged up all sorts of memories, mainly traumatic ones, and linked them to Joseph's birth.
I was having nightmares, nightly. It got to the stage where I was avoiding sleep because I was scared of the nightmares. I had flashbacks in supermarkets, in the park, at home, everywhere. Here I was with a baby who slept well at night, yet I was awake all night, waiting for the next drama.
It wasn't until I broke down in our baby massage class that I realised I had a real problem, and it was not going away, it was getting worse.
I felt so confused, as I wasn't depressed. On the good old Edinburgh scale of post natal depression, I scored low. I couldn't really comprehend what was happening. I thought, like in my song, post traumatic stress was something that happened to war veterans, not mothers of small babies.
I went to my GP, and started receiving treatment. Suddenly, the world seemed a kinder place. I could finally see outside my own grief and see that of others around me. And I could see Joseph. As a bonny, growing, funny, clever little boy. And it's taken a long time, but I finally saw myself as a mummy, a good mummy doing the best she can.
And finally I could let go of my little tiny translucent skinned fragile being in an incubator, and focus on the future.