PTSD is an Evolutionary Flaw

This morning I was sitting down at my desk and a good friend shared this post.

This poor woman. It is already heartbreaking and stressful enough to find yourself in a situation where beloved babies are at risk. I applaud her decision to go ahead and try to keep the babies safe just a little longer – she’s fully aware of the risks, she’s made the decision.

And of course, it’s her body, so it’s her CHOICE.

And you all know I’m all about choice.

So the doctors that refuse to support her? Are fucking assholes.

…….

I read the post, I tweeted my outrage and support, and then, suddenly, BOOM.

I was sobbing. Shaking. I couldn’t breathe.

In just that moment, I was there again, lying on that hospital bed, being told that my surviving boy had to die if I wanted to live. At the time, I was so incredibly sick that I was distant from the situation emotionally. But thanks to PTSD, I’ve relived it more than once now, fully aware.

I remember the doctors on shift being furious at my doctor for wanting to treat my preeclampsia and try to save my still living son. I remember the barely concealed anger on their faces as they came into my room to check on me throughout the night.

I remember the grief and resignation on my doctor’s face the next morning after I demanded to see him instead of the team that surrounded my bed at dawn, telling me that I had to terminate the pregnancy now.

I remember the asshole doctor that did my discharge two days later telling me that trying to have another baby was basically suicide, even as I sobbed inconsolably, and failing to mention that I would likely lactate, an unwelcome development that happened once I was home.

But that’s not all I remember.

I remember the kindness of my nurse, not judging me or being angry when I vomited on her. I remember my doctor taking my hand and telling me how sorry he was. I remember the frightened, sad faces of the young interns and residents assisting in my surgery, unsure how to help me as I wept during the preparations for the surgery.

It was the worst day of my life.

…..

Katherine, the friend that alerted me to this story, specializes in postpartum depression and PTSD issues. She tells me that trauma and stress – like I had with the boys – permanently changes your brain. While this is undoubtably true, I fail to see why it helps me to have a flight-or-fight response NOW to a trauma that happened nearly six years ago.

But it still happens. I can’t fight it, prevent it, or do anything other than ride it out.

Those of us that have been down this path know this feeling well. Luckily, I have been gifted by having good friends and the tools with which to take care of myself, not to mention the technology that makes it possible; I hopped into a Google Hangout (a group video chat) with Katherine, Dresden, and my friend Lynette joined me and listened and virtually held me as I got past the worse of the fear and anxiety.

I still feel shaky, heartbroken, and sad. I’m channeling that now into prayers for Diana and her babies. Join me in sending her good thoughts, won’t you?

Comments

  1. says

    I think it’s true that it does change your brain and the way the brain works. Many women who had live births but horrible birth experiences also suffer from PTSD. We really need to improve the way we handle women during labor and deliver in this country.

  2. says

    I’ve been following Diana and her story on Twitter – I can’t imagine what she’s going through, though I have certainly been sending her and her twins good thoughts.

    I agree with Elena’s post above, though I would suggest that we need to address how the medical community handles decisions that are counter to their own advice, in general.

    And Cecily – your story is incredible. That you have been through so much and still stand on your own two feet is a testament to your strength.

  3. says

    PTSD is a vile and angry creature. Just when I think all is well, it resurfaces its ugly head and I have to reprocess all over again. I can totally buy into that brain change theory. Totally.

  4. says

    PTSD sucks. It’s even worse when you don’t know what it is but it manifests physically and no amount of tests or doctors can explain the physical pain and the stress of constant physical pain on top of everything else.

  5. says

    You’re absolutely right. Trauma and stress will permanently change your brain. And when those feelings come back to the surface, and when you relive it via PTSD, you can’t fight it, prevent it, or do anything other than ride it out.

  6. says

    PTSD fucking SUCKS. My therapist said last week that the PTS (D or not) would hit me and yes, the only thing to do is ride it out.

    I’m so glad you have a support system in place.

    I am rooting so hard for Diana and her boys. As soon as I heard about her, I thought about you and your boys. You’re boys will never be forgotten.

    Love you! xo

  7. Alexicographer says

    Thanks for writing about this, Cecily. I haven’t had your experiences, or Diana’s, but I’ve received enough bad medical advice (along, thank goodness, with lots of good, and lots of good care too — but not all of it good) to believe that such things happen, crazy as it seems (because, really, WTF?). I’ll be holding Diana in my thoughts and am so glad that you have resources to help you cope when what you describe hits.

  8. Karinsamira says

    Thanks for sharing this, Cecily. You are right, PTSD sucks and it tends to hit you out of the blue (speaking from own experience here…lost my family twice as a small kid due to so-called social reasons plus lived through a brain tumor experience some time ago).
    I found it helpful to just let this reactions and emotions come, just like swimming in a wild river. I hope (and believe) you will feel better soon! Sending you cyber hugs meanwhile.

  9. says

    When I first read this on Monday I was crying and didn’t comment. But I wanted you to know I am sending love and healing to you…for whenever you need it.

  10. says

    I’m so sorry that you had to relive that and live through it at all. Sometimes my mind can’t even comprehend the insensitiveness of other people. Lots and lots of hugs.

  11. says

    Yes, I almost couldn’t comment in support of her. I feel the pain of my own loss all over again and guilt from getting to keep one of my babies.

    I’m glad you’ve got such good friends to get you through the bumps in life. I have my own who let me get petty and mean or sad. You have to have a safe place to be real.

  12. says

    Trauma changes the brain. That is for sure.
    PTSD is a bitch that I have had to slap on many occasions – but only after it slapped me hard first. Your story is one that touched me to my very core… I’m sorry it comes back to assault you at times.
    My thoughts are with Diana and her twins…

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