Stigma Fighters: Joy H.

Truths and Stigmas

Today I’m straying from my normal happy, silly self I present on Evil Joy Speaks. I’m honored to be writing a post as part of Stigma Fighters. I know many of you know my story, some or all of it. Many may not. If this message can help just one person, it’s worth my sharing such an intimate part of me.

I worry constantly. It can be debilitating at times. It causes me to be physically ill other times. And many times it takes the joy from my life.

I don’t want to be this way. I take medication. I see a therapist WEEKLY.

I work hard.

I frequently avoid questions about where I am on Tuesdays. “I have an appointment.” With my therapist. Every Tuesday. For the last two years.

Why do I feel the need to be vague, even to those closest to me?

Stigma.

There is stigma with needing mental health care.

WHY?!?! I’m diabetic. I take medication to manage my diabetes. Why should I not manage my mental health in the same open way?

Because I WORRY about the judgement. I worry people will think I’m a terrible person. Not a good mom. Not a good wife. Not a good friend.

Not a good person.

The reason I have been seeing a therapist so regularly the last two years is I was diagnosed with PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2012. In November of 2011 my husband didn’t feel well and within 24 hours was in a battle for his life. He was on life support fighting kidney, heart, and lung failure. He was on 24 hour dialysis. His body was infected with a septic staph infection that forced the doctors to induce a coma. He fought for 10 long days, and won.

When you’ve been married 16 years and together for 21…and you’re only 36 years old….your partner is your life. Dealing with illness like this is never expected but certainly not in a young, healthy 37 year old. A man who has been the center of my world since I was 15. The father of our four young children. We grew up together. We met in high school by chance, at a summer camp and maintained a long distance relationship until we got engaged when I was 18. We were married when I was 20 and he was 22. My life is him, I don’t know my life without him and I never want to.

I was afraid I would lose him. That our kids would loose their father. I was afraid for his life. I was terrified.

And now…

He is fully recovered. COMPLETELY recovered with no after effects. We ran a marathon last June. The most incredible 26.2 miles of my life…because we ran it together.

Once his crisis was past, mine had just begun.

As he got better and was back to life I fell apart. Completely and totally fell apart. When in crisis mode, life works. I work well in a crisis. I’m calm and collected (for the most part) and I do what has to be done. Or am able to let go and have other do what has to be done. I tried to be strong for my kids. I tried to be there for them. I failed in so many ways I can’t even count them and for that I have immeasurable guilt. But I tried. And I think we all came through to the other side okay. We made it through the tough stuff.

And then the crisis was past. BAM.

My life stopped.

I couldn’t function. Ambulances caused me to have to pull my car over because I was crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. Sirens took my breathe away.
My husband traveling for work left me in a panic; what if he became ill? Who would know? The thoughts became paralyzing.

It got to the point where even watching a TV show would set off the panic in my body. I began recognizing things that I shouldn’t know about, but did. The purpose for a blue tube….they don’t use them for short term comas, it saddens me that I know that.
I would change the channel, leave the room, do anything to not notice or watch what was unfolding on the TV – it was too painful.

Two and a half years later and I still leave the room if something comes on TV that triggers the memory. The thoughts still linger, just waiting to be ignited. I am getting better though, with help from my therapist and medication, I am moving forward. I can drive past an ambulance and although it may give me pause I can keep going. I no longer fear him traveling for work I have learned to embrace the quietness and time with the kids.

Every day I work on it, and every day is better than the other. There are set backs but in the end I am moving forward.

If you need help, seek help. Work to break the silence and get rid of the stigma.

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Joy aka Evil Joy is a mom and wife.  She lovingly refers to her children as spawn and her husband as Dr. Evil.  Often humorous, occasionally serious, Joy blogs about life as she sees it.  And she often views life while blogging, running, snowboarding, or driving her spawn around.  Come to the evil side…The Evil Joy side of life.

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