October 31st is not Halloween to me anymore. No, I am not against Halloween. I still pass out candy to the kids who dress up and ring my doorbell. In fact, I love seeing the children in the neighborhood wearing their costumes excited to see what treat I have for them. You see, on October 31, 2012 Halloween changed from the day the children would dress up and go trick or treating to the day my son had surgery to remove a brain tumor. I am thankful every day that he is doing well, but those memories continue to haunt me even after 4 years.
I do not, cannot, relive that time because the memories are still so vivid. I know I should be grateful, screaming with joy on every anniversary because he is doing great, however, my joy gets clouded by the flashbacks of his supposedly 6-hour surgery becoming 11 hours or his post-operative recovery complicated by a grand mal seizure followed by 31 focal/temporal seizures in just 4 hours.
One would think with each anniversary of his surgery it would get easier. I tell myself that this Halloween will be different as it approaches hoping that I become numb from it all. Instead, the feeling of complete fear wraps me like a blanket remembering every day, hour, minute, second–yes, I remember everything. The sounds of all the machines, the smells of the hospital, the fear wondering if my son would be the okay.
People tell me that I should focus on all the good, after all, he is healthy, he married the love of his life, and he is practicing his passion—law. IF ONLY IT WERE THAT EASY! Logically I understand all of this. He still gets a brain MRI every 3 – 4 months since his surgery with each report having excellent results. But my memories continue to be etched deeply in my brain that logic takes a back seat. Here I am, a grown woman who is a health care provider experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSD is a mental health condition caused by a terrifying event–either experiencing or witnessing it. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event. We hear about PTSD in our veterans due to their experience with war but PTSD can affect anyone who has seen or underwent something horrific.
I know I am not the only one who has suffered an event that has caused symptoms of PTSD. I have shared my story with you because I can tell you first hand that seeing a psychotherapist has been instrumental in my recovery/healing. Yes, the anniversary (Halloween) still causes me great angst, however, I have far less symptoms throughout the year and my quality of life continues to improve.
If you are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression or anything that is affecting your mental health wellness I implore you to find a therapist and/or a psychiatrist to help you. After all, you deserve being the best not only physically but mentally. I personally know the benefits of psychotherapy and I am grateful every day that I made the decision to get help. Don’t wait until tomorrow when you can start feeling better today–it can be a life saver.
If you are interested in reading about my son’s health crisis through my eyes, here are the links to my personal journey.
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