When someone has a disability, it’s easy to believe they have only one diagnosis. However, I’ve also had breast cancer, and I fight post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) every day.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD is “a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event.” People with PTSD repeatedly relive traumatic experiences and are triggered by anything similar to the original trauma.
It took me a while to realize that I have PTSD. My previous marriage was full of complications. I dealt with things I shouldn’t have and had difficulties meeting my basic needs. In situations like that, the true self becomes buried after a while, too frightened to appear.
My PTSD manifests in two ways. Either something occurs that I think will result in harsh anger toward me, or I’m consumed by memory and feel like I’m reliving a traumatic moment. My muscles tense and my heart races. I try to think of the best and quickest way to create peace. Cerebral palsy (CP) complicates the situation because I cannot walk away.
The most recent episode occurred about a week ago and prompted me to examine the relationship between CP and PTSD. My husband and I were up late doing things. I was ready for bed, but then I felt wetness on my hand. It was the icky stench of dog urine! One of our dogs had an accident on our bed, which never happens.
It was late, and we were tired. I had to ask my husband to change the bedsheets, which triggered my PTSD. He wasn’t happy, but he also wasn’t angry with me. Still, I fled to the bathroom, where I sat rocking back and forth, thinking of possible escape routes.
Being unable to escape an unpleasant situation is frustrating. I wonder if I would have PTSD if I didn’t have CP.
Thankfully, I have a great support system that helps me manage my PTSD. Once the bed was made, I told my husband what had happened. He had suspected that was the reason I went into the bathroom. We talked about it, and he reminded me that my current reality isn’t the past. The past won’t happen again, and we have a future that is different.
I know that I will have PTSD for a while, perhaps forever. My symptoms have improved, though, which is a positive development.
Managing both CP and PTSD is tricky, but doable. If you’re dealing with PTSD, find someone you can trust to talk to. Communication does wonders.
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disorder. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.