PTSD: Living In Fear

Do you know someone who suffers with PTSD? Or maybe you do? Maybe you do and you don’t even realize it.

I am not a medical doctor, or therapist, so if you need help please go get help. I am just writing out my experiences and my thoughts in hopes that one person can get the help they need. These are my opinions and don’t take them as medical advice.

Aria had hip surgery for hip-dsyplasia 3 months before she died. This was right after she woke up from surgery, she just wanted her mom <3

Aria had hip surgery for hip-dsyplasia 3 months before she died. This was right after she woke up from surgery, she just wanted her mom <3

On one friday morning, I went to check on my 15 month old daughter who was sleeping later than usual and I found her dead in her crib. That moment has replayed about a million times in my head. It has replayed in my body, in my mind, on my other children.

Most everyone who experiences a traumatic event will have some sort of flashbacks for a while. It’s only considered Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disoder (PTSD) when it keeps happening for a certain length of time. Symptoms can even start a year after the traumatic experience occured.

I think of PTSD like a brain-injury. There are the two halves of your brain, and there are pathways that connect your right hemisphere to your left hemisphere. I think of all those pathways as completely cut and broken. Since there are no connections to your left and right brain, they cannot communicate, and therefore, your reasoning is so skewed.

You cannot “file” away the event in your brain as a one-time traumatic event, but it is put right in front as an ever happening event. So your body is in constant flight-or-fight mode. All.the.time. You cannot reason, you cannot talk your body out of it, your body just is reacting.

Your body just sees a trigger, and it goes through the motions. Heart pounds, brain goes to the worst thing that could possibly happen, start to get fainty, breathe fast. And I promise you, I was completely certain without a doubt every time, that my child, or someone elses child was dead. There is no reasoning, no logic, and no just telling me to not worry about it. I needed to know for a fact that that child was still breathing.

Before I knew I was suffering from PTSD I started to get scared to go check on my boys in the morning. At first I checked on them every morning first thing. But my heart would pound so bad, and I would be so scared every time, that eventually I started to just stay in bed and pretend I was still sleeping until they woke up and came upstairs. Then I started to beat myself up because I couldn’t even go downstairs to check on my boys. Was I going crazy?

There are so many moments I can’t even describe them because it was one year of my life. My 2nd daughter was born one month after my first daughter died. So I didn’t sleep for many months. I would put my daughter to bed right next to me in her bassinet, and then I would tell myself. “Okay, shes’ fine, you’ve done everything you can for her, now GO TO SLEEP”. But 1 minute later I would pop up and check on her to make sure she was breathing, absolutely convinced that she was dead.

I needed to leave early in the morning one time, so I coudn’t wait for my boys to come upstairs to leave, and I was crying and pleading on the landing for my boys to please just wake up and come upstairs. I was so so terrified to go downstairs. Then I got even more terrified when they didn’t come up, because I just knew that they were both dead in their beds.

My little newborn was very difficult to enjoy. Not only was I grieving the loss of my other daughter, but I was so stressed trying to keep her alive I could not relax. I checked on her about every 5 minutes of her life for the first 9 months for sure to make sure she was still breathing. I would think, “It only takes one second for her to stop breathing and then shes gone” So I would check on her again and again.

There were a few times, I shook awake my boys screaming and crying, that no, not another of my kids died. I without a doubt thought they had died. It’s terrifying, and then after, so sad to me for my poor kids waking up to their mom screaming. Needless to say, I also brought them to therapy as well.


It was a very trying year on our marriage. My husband was also grieving the loss of his daughter, but he was also trying to support a wife with a very serious mental condition. He could not leave me alone overnight with the kids. If he had to for work, I had to go to my parents house, because I could not handle being by myself. It put a lot of strain on our relationship. Especially because with PTSD you just don’t have the capacity to feel that peaceful love. It’s hard to feel loving and gentle and kind when you are about to explode with stress and fright every moment of your life. It was very difficult to hear, but Justin told me at one point that he resigned himself to this life. That this is what living with his wife will be like now. I was short, snappy, I could not handle anything extra. I had a hard time feeling love. I was not a very nice person. I’m very thankful that Justin has stuck with me and supported me through those times.

I told people many times that the stress that is in my body is just eating away at my insides. Second by second it’s killing me. If I don’t get this stress out of my body I will die from it. It was so real and so strong. It was seriously not a way to live. It is not a way to live for anyone. Please, please, please if you think you have PTSD of any severity please go get help. There is help available and you don’t have to try live a life with that stress.

If you are even wondering if you have it, I would recommend going in and doing the full test. THERE IS NO SHAME. It’s better to get help and live a full life, than to live in the horrible life that is full blown PTSD.

I just want to encourage you if you are living with someone with PTSD. It’s so difficult I know, to feel compassion and love for someone who is so angry, so stressed and so unreasonable. Please encourage them to get help. If they or you get help, it seriously can change your life. I’m not at all encouraging abuse if that comes with the anger. But try to understand that they need help, and there is no way to describe the pain and anger that sits inside. I’m really not sure what you can do if someone will not get help. It’s up to them to decide that they need help. If you are in danger or your children in danger please leave and keep yourselves safe.

My therapist told me she thinks I have PTSD and if I’m open to trying other therapies she would reccomend me trying out a treatment called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). So she sent me to another therapist who did that treatment.

EMDR is a treatment that tries to rebuild those pathway connections in your brain. So when I went to therapy, I would hold a buzzer in each hand and they would alternate buzzing. My therapist would say things like, “Okay, think back to walking in the room to check on Aria, what comes up for you?” and “Just close your eyes, and what comes up?”. What comes up could be anything, it could be feelings, it could be thoughts, it could be nothing. Many times there was this feeling in my body that would come up over and over again. I came to realize that trauma is stored in your body. So mine would come up in my neck and chest.

My therapist described it as a form of art. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. We are just exploring with a flashlight in the dark, trying to find our way. Your connection with your therapist is very important. If you have one and you don’t really feel like you are not connecting, try to find a new one.

I spent many, many hours in my therapists office. I was very lucky to have such a big support group who helped take care of my kids so I could go there. But it was a LOT of work. A LOT of time. But I’m serious it helped so much. It’s exhausting to go through your trauma over, and over, and over, and over again. Noticing what emotions, what thoughts, and what’s stuck in your body.

During therapy I would sit there and think that I cannot do this. This is so painful. I can’t take this anymore. I cannot feel these feelings. I don’t know how I’m going to go home and live life. But at the end of our session, you put all the feelings that come up in your body and thoughts and shove them in a box in your mind and put it away. Then you go to a calm place and focus on that calm place. When I left therapy, I ALWAYS left with a sense of hope that I can get better. That it’s possible for me to get through this grief and PTSD and crazy feelings that I have.

Every session, I told my therapist my goals. I told him I know that this will probably affect me for the rest of my life, but I just want to not have to check on my daughter when shes’s sleeping for 10 min. Then eventually it became 20 min. then 1 hour. It was amazing each of those milestones. Even now, looking back, those minutes were huge.

I was running a lot during that time. It was a good outlet to try get some of that stress out of my body, and many times when I ran I continuously though thoughts like this:

-”I’m going to be Okay”

-”I can get through this”

-”It seems hard but I can get better”

-”Life is going to be okay”

I said those things OVER and OVER to myself. I really believe that the EMDR and those affirmations and thoughts I said to myself help reconnect that pathways in my brain. I am so so thankful today that my PTSD is only a small fraction of my life. I cannot say it’s gone. Just the other day I say my boy laying on the ground and not moving, and I started to panick that he was dead. So it’s not gone. I live with it every day. Now though, it’s so mangable and I can live with it.

There are moments I hate it. I hate that I have to live with such a difficult thing. And the reason for my PTSD. But I have also come to realize that this is what I know now. I understand what’s happening to my body when it’s happening. I know that it’s PTSD, and that it’s not me. I live with it, but I would say I can also live a very normal life. I can take care of my kids, sleeping or no, without too much fear of them dying in their sleep.

It’s easier now, for me to put my kids into God’s hands. The PTSD would not let me do it, even if I told myself that Brilynn will be fine, she is in God’s hands, I would still have to check on her 5 minutes later. Now, I can put my kids to sleep and not check on them all night most of the time. I have thought many times that I have lived through one child dying. If I’m meant to live through another one dying, I will have to deal with it when it comes. I am not saying I think or feel this all the time. But thinking that helps me relax and let my kids sleep. I can only do that because my PTSD is better.

I really want to encourage you whoever you are. If you are someone with PTSD and didn’t realize it and just thought you were crazy, go get help. If you are someone with PTSD and don’t think you need help, PLEASE go get help. I promise you don’t have to live that way. If you are someone living with PTSD I hope you come away with a little more understanding, and you can help them get help. If you need help yourself as a support person, please do that.

I am not a medical doctor, or therapist, so if you need help please go get help. I am just writing out my experiences and my thoughts in hopes that one person can get the help they need. These are my opinions and don’t take them as medical advice.