What say you on this PTSD subject?
Those who know me know that my children are the absolute center of my universe. I stopped at nothing to keep them safe and protected and out of harm’s way. I did everything I could to shield them from every possible danger imaginable. So what happens when evidentially the problems of the world become SO big that you simply can’t shield them anymore?
I for one would like to take a second look at this
What happens when you are the very person that is exposing them to all the hurt you have worked so hard to protect them from? I can tell you from experience that the pain and guilt are unbearable. We talk about PTSD and how it affects our spouses and us; how it affects our jobs and health. But what about the kids? What about the innocent bystanders that get trapped in the middle of all the turmoil? The subject of PTSD and kids deserves some further discussion.
Just because you say it, it does not make it real
Kids look to their parents for strength. They look to us for comfort and reassurance them, especially when they are afraid and confused. So I tried my best to hide what I was going through from them. I didn’t want them to be afraid; after all, I was terrified. They’ll be none the wiser I convinced myself.
Care for a hanky?
In the beginning, however, I went through a period when for no reason whatsoever my eyes would start tearing up. No shit. It was the strangest thing ever, to just start crying for no apparent reason. And it happened all the fucking time. It didn’t matter where I was, who I was with, or what I was doing. No wonder I tried to stay locked up at home all the time. It was a tad unnerving for me to say the least. And for my kids, I’m sure it was terrifying.
The day I realized I was out gunned by PTSD
Imagine seeing it through their eyes; daddy quietly crying in the kitchen while packing lunches for school, forcing fake smiles for them claiming that everything was ok. Now I don’t believe a child should ever have to comfort a parent; that was just my opinion. Not that it’s wrong, I just believe that if your kids see you in distress, they’re automatically going to panic and think ‘this is must be bad.’ Now don’t get me wrong, if I felt an episode coming on I would certainly excuse myself. It’s not like I would throw myself on the bed and cry into my hanky like some southern belle. But trust me; your kids will know something is not right with you. I can remember one time specifically; looking at my son looking back at me right as I was in the middle of one of these ‘episodes.’ And the look of frightened confusion in my son’s eyes changed everything. That’s when I knew I had to take a different approach whether I wanted to or not.
Time to let the cat out of the bag
So I finally sucked it up and let them in on it. I had a big talk with the kids and explained everything to them. Was it easy? Absolutely not! I remember thinking how will my little girl ever be able to look up to me again? How will my son be able to lean on me for strength? How can I be an active parent when I can’t even handle my day-to- day life? All I knew was what I WAS doing wasn’t working.
Someone give me an ‘AMEN.’
After all, most of you can agree that NOT knowing is sometimes far worse than knowing. If you don’t know what’s going on, you often create your worst case scenario in your mind and run with it. The feeling of being kept in the dark can be very unsettling. This is no different for kids. I think as adults we often underestimate the abilities of our children. We don’t give them enough credit. As much as that PTSD tried to stop me, I pushed forward and explained to the kids that dad was taking a knee for a bit. I had a backlog of bad memories that I needed to learn to put away correctly. And of course, they were accepting. And of course, they were understanding. And instantly I felt as though a big weight had been lifted off me. To be honest, the kids thought it was cool as shit that I was going to be home all the time. Easy prezzie! Once again proving that as adults, we tend to make things bigger than they truly are.
Strength comes from the strangest places
They say tough times breed tough people. Children are no different. I have watched my children not only learn how to deal will this, but handle it with a level of maturity that even I didn’t know they possessed. My son, for example, jumps into action with the latest meme or vine just to make me laugh because after all laughter IS the best medicine. And my daughter with her quiet, calm nature is always able to take things down a notch when they seem to get out of hand.
Make sure your team is mighty
One thing I have been repeating consistently throughout this blog is the importance of developing your support network. Getting help when you need it; letting people in. This plan includes your kids. They can be your biggest ally. After all, there is a reason for the expression ‘safety in numbers’. The last thing you need on your road to recovery is the additional stress of trying to keep things secret. After all, there is nothing to be ashamed of. If I were to change anything it would have been to tell them sooner. To be honest, I think it helped me more than it helped them.
So I’ll say it again, “PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN.”