As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I’ve decided to write briefly about one of the conditions I suffer with.
Depression and anxiety have been a part of me, of my life for the past few years. I have developed PTSD since losing my 5 year old son, Ned, in a car crash.
I was aware of the term PTSD before. I had read a little about it, heard it discussed, primarily with regards to soldiers returning from war. I never really understood it, not until it grabbed hold of me and has been eating away at me for the past year.
The diagnosis was made by my psychiatrist a couple of months after the horrific crash that shattered my whole world. I have suffered a massive trauma and am unable to ‘recover’ from this.
But what does it mean? What is it like to live with this disorder?
For me, it means re-living the car crash over and over and over. Even though I wasn’t there, I can visualise the accident so clearly and can’t get the horrific images out of my head. I see my little boy thrown forward with such force in his seat that he died from catastrophic liver damage. I wake in the night wailing for my little boy.
When I’m driving, I ‘see’ the car in front of me veer over the white line and crash head-on. My heart races, my stomach clenches with fear, I start to sweat and tears fall.
Day after day after day I relive this horror.
I search for answers to the relentless battering of questions in my head. Why? Why did it happen? Why couldn’t they save him? What have I done that’s so bad that I’ve had my little boy taken from me? Why did I let him go? Why wasn’t I there for my little boy? Why wasn’t I there to hush and soothe and hold his little hand? Why? Why? Why? It’s like an angry swarm of wasps buzzing in my head. I pull at my hair, I bang my head against the wall but they won’t stop. It’s torture.
I’ve been told that I have ritualised certain behaviours that are causing me more pain. I visit the roadside often to place flowers. I visit Ned’s grave every night to tell him how sorry I am. I can’t not do these things. They’re all I can do for my son now; the only care that I can show him.
I’ve been asked if I believe that I should suffer? Yes, yes I do believe that I should. I let my little boy die. I failed him in the worst possible way. He didn’t get to live beyond 5 years of age because of me – that’s what PTSD tells me.
It is, quite simply, a living hell. I’ve tried self-harming behaviours to relieve the pain, but they don’t work. They numb me for a short while, nothing more.
Perhaps with the support of my amazing psychologist I will somehow learn to live with what has happened to us and be able to function better. I don’t know. The only certainty I have is that my heart has been shattered; an explosion of fragments like the stars in the night sky when I was told that my little boy had died. And I know that my heart won’t be fixed until the day I am with my little Ned again. When that will be, I don’t know. But the day will come when I have my precious angel back in the safety of my arms, and when that day comes, I will never let go of him again.