As you can read in MY STORY I have lived a very manic lifestyle in my teens and early twenties, which Bipolar manic episodes can allow myself to be in dangerous situations, or make irrational decisions (along with a long list of other symptoms) so I’ve suffered from four PTSD Episodes during my past, which I will describe in later posts, but now I am going to describe my first traumatic experience that happened when I was 13 that led to years of PTSD. This experience is not a result of my bipolar disorder, it is just something that happened.
Threatening, deeply hurtful, or very upsetting experiences that leave you feeling helpless or hopelessness will trigger a fight, flight, or freeze response, which is your nervous systems reaction to danger. Normally you recover in a few days or weeks, but when you don’t you may be suffering from PTSD.
I can remember that Thanksgiving break when I was 13 like it was yesterday. My mom and dad divorced when I was 2 years old. My oldest sister and I visited every other weekend and holidays all those years until this particular weekend. My dad was supposed to pick my sister and I the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, he was to take us out of town to see my favorite grandma, we called her Grandma Shelby Shelbina, her pet name for me was”little bit,” and my sisters was “sunshine.” We could hardly wait to go. But Wednesday came and went with no showing of my dad. We called his house so many times I couldn’t even count (this was before cell phone days.) My mom called hospitals without any results. My mom decided we would just go to my step dads’ moms’ house with them and my two younger half sisters. The day turned to night still with no answers, I do not know how sleep found me but it did. I wake up the next day, Thanksgiving day with a sinking feeling of dread I could not get rid of. But we had to bring our packed bags and head off to My Step Grandma’s house, hoping he just forgot and we would still get to be with him. I had to act happy and not worried some to not be a downer. While there my mom and Step Dad decided to take a ride over to my Dads’ house. While they were there they found the door unlocked (which is highly unlike him) my mom remembered he always kept a gun under his bed, it was not there. Still with no other evidence to what was going on, they returned to give us the update. At this point I am just angry at him for not only ruining my Thanksgiving, but forgetting about me all together. We all returned home after a long day, as the night before sleep still found me even with all the worry and anger. I was shaken awake with the news that they found my dad, he was at St. Johns Hospital in surgery after shooting himself in the head. I screamed, I cried, I shook uncontrollable all the way to the hospital. After all night in the waiting room a surgeon finally came into say he did all he could, the bullet entered into his left temple, spiraled all across his frontal lobe, to the right side of his brain, finally lodging into the back part of his brain. He explained to us that he is on life support and probably doesn’t have much time left, and we should go be by his side. I walked in his room seeing things that still haunt my dreams. His head was the size of a basketball with bandages everywhere, his eyes were swollen shut the size of softballs. His face was black and blue. Well hours turned into days, then weeks. He survived it. My prayers and please were answered. After numerous surgeries to try and repair some damage, multiple skin graphs, every type of physical therapy you can imagine, my dad only returned to us with the mentality of a 10 year old boy. He lost all his short term memory (especially any facts of the attempted suicide.)
We did get information from the police report and the officers on scene. My dad left work early that Wednesday, went home and retrieved his 22, went to a car rental place, rented a car, bought another gun, bought a tape recorder and rented a room at the Holiday Inn at Six Flags in Eureka. The housekeeping staff heard the shot and called 911. He was resuscitated on scene then airlifted to the best head trauma Hospital in the area. EMS reported that after resuscitation he said mine and my sister name before loosing consciousness again.
After a year in the hospital, then a rehab facility my Grandma Shelbina took him to his house to care for him. My sister and I still continued to visit for a while. But my anger and resentment took over my every thought, I made the regretting decision to see him less and less…It hurt soooooooo much what he did, and what remained of the father I once knew. My grandma eventually sold his house and moved him in her house in the small town of Shelbina. I spent two weeks with them that summer before high-school, but never returned. I received many threatening phone calls at how selfish I was, and if I didn’t visit more I would be written out of their will. I still was so messed up in the head I never returned.
I was so insecure and heartbroken by his actions I believed that if I wasn’t good enough for my own dad not to shoot himself, then I will never be worth anything to anyone. I let his actions help contribute to my manic dangerous drug and sex filled lifestyle to try to find someone to love me.
I was never able to celebrate Thanksgiving until I was older, I panicked and sobbed at any movie or book that talked about parents killing themselves.
I was traumatized by my dad. I suffered the effects until the day my first child was born. I was then able to make peace that his attempt had nothing to do with me. He suffered from a mental illness. And yes, thank you, so do I now.
My dad is now in a psychiatric hospital in Hannibal and I have forgiven him, and try to visit every couple of months.
Some symptoms of PTSD:
Guilt, Shame or self blame
Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
Depression and hopelessNess
Suicidal thoughts and hopelessness
Physical aches and pains.
Yes…I suffered for years with every SINGLE one of those listed.
I would love your thoughts or comments.