"Out of sight and out of mind"
It's most definitely a phrase that I feel pertains to me, specifically me, absolutely me, it most definitely means me.
I can't help but feel this void, a void of family, friends, acquaintances, life, and the outside world in general. My life was voided and I haven't ever talked about it, until now.
I went through something, a few somethings actually, that were severely emotionally and mentally traumatic. So traumatic that my body reacted to these traumas.
In 2008 after the last horrific trauma, I began to manifest debilitating physical symptoms that rendered me incapacitated and unable to care for myself.
I was 28 years old, I had an amazing career, I was planning my upcoming nuptials and my world, my life, came to a dramatic halt and I would never be the same.
I lost hearing in my right ear, I had constant vertigo, my balance was off and I experienced 24/7 disequilibrium. I couldn't drive my car, I couldn't walk without assistance, and I was forced to walk with a cane. I could not live alone, let alone shower by myself, safely!
At 28 years old after being under the care of 5 or so specialists, I was deemed permanently and totally disabled. Incapacitated, disabled, and put out of work indefinitely.
"Find something in your life that makes you happy and do it, be happy!" is what my doctor told me
I wanted my life back, I wanted to be well, I wanted to walk and drive and I wanted to be back at work at my job as I had worked so hard to make a career for myself. I was a stellar employee who was kicking ass and taking names, I wasn't just climbing the ladder, I was climbing it and setting it ablaze as I ran up that freaking ladder!
What happened to that?
Why couldn't I have that?
Why was I so sick?
What the hell happened to me?
I needed answers, I wanted answers, I had to have validation.
I had kept a diary of my symptoms and what was physically happening to me, it was all too unreal and unbelievable.
I couldn't believe that this was happening, that this was my life. I became depressed and suicidal, I no longer wanted to live or feel like this, I was not happy.
I had seen so many Doctors and Specialists and all of their tests came back normal and negative.
There was no brain tumor, and no explanation for my severe debilitating symptoms.
I had hearing loss, ringing in my ears, vision problems, my eyes flickered, I lived in a constant state of vertigo and disequilibrium every single day, it was exhausting!
After weeks and months of Dr's appointments, evaluations, and hospital tests and procedures, I heard a few of the specialists mention something called Meniere's Disease.
Meniere's Disease is an inner ear disease that had every symptom that I had. I was tested and that also came back negative...but I couldn't, wouldn't, and didn't accept that.
I needed to know what was wrong, those were my symptoms, the test just had to be wrong. But it wasn't.
So, I self diagnosed myself as having Meniere's Disease. I told family and friends that that's in fact what was wrong with me, I believed it, I took it on as my own.
However, I was NEVER diagnosed with Meniere's Disease.
I was no longer the same young woman I once was. I was broken, tired, and I felt defeated and hopeless in my life.
In August of 2008 after my mother pleaded and begged for me to "please get help," I agreed.
I was in physical therapy relearning how to walk, I was working with a counselor and was medicated and under the care of a psychiatrist...as well as living with and coping with a self diagnosis of Meniere's Disease, which I was NEVER diagnosed as having...EVER.
It's amazing what the brain will do to protect itself and the body that holds it!
My brain adopted a disease that I NEVER even had and I accepted it for about 8 years...until I woke up!
The year is now 2016 and I have lived almost 8 years thinking and truly believing that I had Ménière's Disease.
My brain did that to protect me from what I could not mentally handle. My mind, my brain, my psyche had locked away the hurt and pain of the trauma so as to help me cope and in doing so created an alternate, safer reality for myself, a reality that I could handle and cope with.
I was living a different life, an alternate reality, created by my mind to protect me from the trauma that had happened to me. And I hid away in my house, surrounded by the safety of my walls. I stopped talking with members of my family and alienated myself from my friends and the outside world.
I adopted a severe and crippling fear of the "what ifs" and I would learn that I would be one of 3.2 million Americans diagnosed and living with agoraphobia.
You see, I wasn't intentionally hiding away, I am sick. It's not a physical ailment but rather a mental illness.
After almost 8 years in therapy working through what I thought was depression from having an incurable inner ear disease, I was triggered.
I woke up scared to see my new reality and I knew I was forever changed and would never be the same.
What triggered me, what was it that pulled me back to my mind and to my self?
I've thought about this a lot these past few months and I could lie and tell you that it was my husband or my children, but they didn't pull me out of my nervous breakdown because, they had already saved my life, they were the reasons why I was still here living and breathing, without their love, I surely would have ended my own life, years ago.
Had my youngest not been diagnosed with autism and diagnosed as severely nonverbal, I never would have found my voice. I became her voice and I fought for her and will continue to fight for her...something inside me clicked and it was time, it was time to fight for myself and it was time to find my own voice and it was time to find me.
I started writing as a way to cope with my daughter's diagnoses and the pain and heartache of feeling alone and feeling like I was failing her as her mother, caretaker, and as an overall human being.
I wrote a lot!
And as I wrote, I started to release my own personal feelings and all the raw emotions that had been trapped and festering inside my mind and my body.
I was slowly releasing what was hurting me.
Through my writing it all came flashing in and flooding my mind with swirls of the reality that I had suppressed along with my current reality. The trauma was now front and center in my mind and I was reliving and feeling it. I was trying to navigate both of my realities that were swirling around in my mind, trying to piece together which reality was in fact the real one.
I could see smell, and feel, all of it. I knew dates, times, and little things like what the weather was like that day and tinier details like what clothes I was wearing that particular day.
I was awake!
That is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
When trauma occurs and it is severe, like mine, it can and did make me physically, emotionally, and mentally ill.
The trauma that occurred in 2008 caused me to have extreme mental stress. A nervous breakdown, a psychotic break which caused me to lose my mind...but I would learn that the correct term is actually called Conversion Disorder.