|Pearl's new kittens. They remind me how much I don't miss nursing my babies!|
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a difficult experience to live through. For many, it involves being surrounded - at random times of day - with auditory, visual, tactile, and sensory hallucinations. In addition, there is an extraordinary increase in cortisol levels - which respond to our body's perception of stress - each and every time a "flashback" is experienced. Because of this, PTSD is linked to symptoms like exhaustion, fatigue, decreased immune function, high heart rate and blood pressure, poor liver function, poor digestion, bowel problems, weight gain or loss, anxiety, depression, and ineffective coping. This adds up to a very difficult life. When PTSD symptoms flare up - which they do for a lifetime in many survivors - it takes extra effort to complete every task of daily life.
There is a verse in the Bible I've always loved, even though it's meaning seems too vast to comprehend: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32) I shall know the truth, and the truth shall set me free. By acknowedging and submitting to truth in our lives, we will walk free, genuine lives that speak comfort to others who must follow on our hard paths. So, today, I am acknowledging this truth: life with mental illness is more difficult than life without it. Accepting this fact doesn't make me a whiner, a quitter, a slacker, or a spoiled brat. It doesn't make me a negative person. Instead, it allows me to go free from some of the difficult yokes of mental illness.
I have depression. I am not just sad and I can't "just get over it" with enough willpower, prayer or positive thinking.
I have flashbacks. I am not any more crazy then you, I am just reliving a particularly traumatic memory.
I have anxiety. I am not always this fidgety: actually, I function quite well most of the time!
I have a huge amount of stress piled on me. I am not a wimp, a weakling or a worrier even though it might seem like I am to you at this moment!
My children might look different than yours. One man's success is another man's failure.
Yes, my husband does the dishes. But get this, ladies! He loves to do it for me. I'm not forcing him.
Yes, I'm still homeschooling. Yes, even with a job. No, my children are not weird, unsocialized or behind academically. Yes, it is difficult for me. Yes, we might send them to school next year. No, we haven't decided yet.
I wonder sometimes if we've taken the old Christian adage that dictates we not compare ourselves to others a little too far. If we refuse to see differences in the name of equality, does that make us less judgmental? Or just blind?
Weigh in! I'd love to hear your thoughts about difficulties in life and how we perceive them. Have you had to adjust your beliefs lately? Do you struggle to admit difficulty in your life for fear of being called a "wimp"?