Welcome to Different Dream’s Friday series about PTSD in parents of kids with special needs. (You’ll find links to the rest of the series at the bottom of the page.) Today’s guest blogger is Kathy Guzzo. Her children are grown and on their own, but three of them dealt with special needs when they were younger. In this post, she explains how she’s turning her negative PTSD experience into a positive.
PTSD in Parents: From Negative to Positive
Thirty years ago just being the mom of four children under the age of six was reason enough to be stressed. Add into that mix,one child with chronic, severe respiratory issues and another who began having seizures and was diagnosed with auditory discrimination issues. Then, years later add another diagnosed with chronic and rare autoimmune diseases. Stress and trauma became the norm.
Those tumultuous years have passed, and my children are doing extremely well as adults. I know I have so much to be thankful for, yet at times I wonder if the emotional affects of those years are over. I realized recently, when my grandson became ill, how quickly I can relive and feel the emotions I felt during each hospital stay, blood test, MRI, doctor’s visit, and long sleepless night. That emotional turmoil is still part of who I am, so could I have PTSD caused by illnesses my children suffered?
Post traumatic stress disorder, a scary term most popular in the military world, is misused many times. But it’s very real. In fact, as I look back on how my children’s illnesses affected me emotionally, I see my own form of P-T-S-D, which attribute to the emotional feelings and flashbacks I have at times.
PTSD in Parents: Parental Pride
I was the parent. So whether the thought was conscious or unconscious, I felt that since God had blessed me with these children, I should be able to handle whatever happened in their lives. I allowed parental pride to mask emotions that would’ve been better handled as they developed.
PTSD in Parents: Tired
I wasn’t just tired, I was exhausted. Physically, emotionally and even spiritually, but I didn’t see it. I ran from appointment to appointment, cared for all the children, and got very little sleep for weeks at a time. My husband did what he could, but we were a one income family and had to work. So I did what I figured all moms did. I kept on keeping on, allowing my pride to push down the true exhaustion.
PTSD in Parents: Sad
I felt sad. Some days more than others. Sad when I saw my children hurting and unhappy. Sad that many days I couldn’t really help them. Sad that caring for a sick child was taking time away from the others. And sad that so many times I felt alone,
PTSD in Parents: Devastated
I was devastated because day after day, week after week my children suffered. Devastated that life was so unfair, devastated that I felt God wasn’t listening. And devastated that the dreams I had for my children may never happen.
PTSD in Parents: From Negative to Positive
During those years, when friends or family asked how I was, my response was always I’m fine. Because not being fine would have indicated I wasn’t a good mom. Would have required a long explanation that I was too tired to give, resulting in an outburst of tears. And would have been a sign that I lacked faith in what God could do. I see now how the
I felt as our children experienced the emotional and physical pain of their illnesses, was traumatizing for me, yet I know with
I can create a positive
How Do You Turn PTSD from Negative to Positive?
What strategies keep you from being dragged down by the negatives of PTSD? How do you stay positive instead? Leave a comment.
Part 2: Special Needs Parents and PTSD–What About You Mom?
Part 5: PTSD in Parents–Moving from Negative to Positive
Part 7: PTSD in Parents of Kids with Special Needs: Visualization as a Coping Tool
Part 8: Newborns Feel Pain: The Headline that Almost Triggered My PTSD
Part 10: Why Kids with PTSD Need Mentally Healthy Parents
Part 11: PTSD and Special Needs Parents: Calling it Like It Is
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