Mental Health Awareness Month AKA My Life: Why I Am Thankful For Every Night I Spend With My Husband

I suffer from an extreme form of fibromyalgia, which gives me constant pain and even worse pain flares, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can turn ordinary life experiences into nightmares. Because of this living my life is a bit like Russian roulette: you play your cards but there’s always a price, no matter how they’re dealt. You’re never sure when you’ll get shot, either.

My husband and I have an extra bedroom, and during pain flares I often find myself retreating there to avoid skin-on-skin contact. Even worse is when my PTSD is acting up, or when my pain and PTSD are going bananas at the same time. The spare room is my hidey-hole. It’s right next to my office, and it makes a sort of blanket fort.

After beginning EMDR, my marriage with my husband has significantly improved. The best thing about EMDR for me is the use of imagination to cope with daily life. That’s me in a nutshell. If I feel scared by a loud noise, I can escape to my private worlds and receive comfort instantaneously.

I’ve been in a pain flare for a month, and have spent most of my time in my figurative blanket fort. One time the pain got so bad I started crying. I wanted a friend. Anyone who could acknowledge what I was going through.

I plodded through the house in tears, calling my husband’s name. I knew he was my friend. He was and is my best friend. It was midnight, and I was afraid he would come out of our bedroom in a huffy attitude. But I was met with buttery, gentle sympathy. He caught me in a warm, tender embrace as I cried, and I knew I wasn’t alone in this battle.

“Do you want to spend the night in bed with me tonight?”

I didn’t hesitate.

“Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”

We went off to bed and I slept hard, for the first time in a month. I woke up in time for breakfast with him. My pain flare wasn’t gone, but it had abated a little. But I was happy to see his face next to me in the morning.

Marriage gives you a guardian angel to watch over you, someone to fight with you and for you, and you likewise, when it’s a good one. I just needed to remember to reach out. My husband had been shelved by my physical and mental turmoil, and I merely had to remember he was my friend to find peace and solace.

Spending the night with my husband is not something that happens every night, and I don’t think that’s a doomsday marker for my marriage. It’s not because we fight. It’s not because we don’t love each other. We are learning how to cope with my physical and mental ailments together, and we will spend the night together every night as I improve and we both learn to communicate. I have hope and gratitude for us. This is why I am thankful for every night I spend with my husband.

The Absolute Realness on PTSD and Marriage

Before Bear and I married, we honestly didn’t know how bad my PTSD was. I knew I had it to some degree, but it was vanquished because I didn’t talk about it. It was simply buried like a honey-badger about to attack our tiny baby marriage from beneath the surface. Does anyone remember that meme?

I remembered how bad my PTSD was when it first started. I would scream in the shower and twist my shampoo bottles across the water. I’d cry randomly in everyday places. Eventually I developed chronic pain once I did stop talking about it. I turned online to vent my fears. But the biggest thing was, the medical professionals denied my PTSD because I kept it under control by staying single for 6 years until I decided to date again, at my roommate’s suggestion.

Once I did, my career spiraled out of control. I began to see and hear things that did not exist at work coming from my male coworkers. There was no way I could work in an office. By the time I quit my job was the time I started going steady with my husband, who had no idea what was actually going on. Neither did I – I thought I had developed schizophrenia.

The same thing would happen at three more places of employment before I gave up and went to grad school, which was a lovely experience. But once I had a new permanent male figure in my life, the craziness exploded again – this time at my husband.

We’ve discovered that letting each other be open and vulnerable even over subjects the other thinks is stupid is the key to getting through our current situation. I’m no longer hearing monsters in the night. Tonight we slept in the same bed for the first time in two weeks. Not because he asked me to leave the room, but because I was hiding. That must have felt horrible to him.

I accomplished two sessions of EMDR this past week, and I think it’s responsible for getting my mind to chill out enough to communicate with my husband. I recommend it for anyone needing trauma therapy. Yes, you can do it remotely.

Warm hugs.

My 1/3 Anniversary

Yesterday, on 4/20 (I did that intentionally) I had my third of a year anniversary.

My marriage has been a fairytale. But not the easy Disney kind. More like the Brothers Grimm kind or the Central Europe kind, where people become disfigured or disabled in the quest for true love. What I’m saying is, you get your magical happily ever after, but magic takes manna and happiness requires danger.

Bear and I have been through a lot over the past four months. Most of it has been because of my untreated PTSD that I’m just now getting treated. I sought help throughout my life, but because I had it buried so deep within me it exploded on my wedding night.

Today I performed a literal song and dance number to express to Bear my feelings about our situation. Then I decided he just needed to hear that he was a good husband, to keep trying, as I would keep trying.

On the day of our anniversary I went into our back yard and picked two of our roses. I put them in the cup we painted together on our first valentines day. I hoped the effect was special enough to override any of the bad juju we’d been through.

When I picked the roses, I noticed how soft and velveteen they felt. I grew up in a literal rose garden. My mother’s yellow roses and my grandfather’s red heirloom roses climbed the walls of my childhood home.
Whenever I see a rose, I am reminded of childhood play, happiness, and my mother’s love.

I had quite a garden as a child, and I grew up exploring the plants and little critters that came with it. But there were always the roses climbing the walls and flower beds.

Bear isn’t giving me a rose garden, but he is giving me a pergola covered with climbing roses once the coronapocalypse is over. We’re going on a road trip to the best rose seller in the state, and I will pick out my favorites. I’lll most likely be a kid in a candy store.

Anyways, Bear, life may not be a rose garden, but it will be a rose pergola with you. Happy one third of an anniversary!

The Safe Man

I’m going to be writing about trauma therapy and marriage again today, because that’s my life right now. This is not a Whiner McBabypants post where I talk about my specific trauma, rather, these are my reflections on life, love, and marriage as a disabled woman.

You know when you just feel sad, and you just want to be sad? Your husband will cook dinner, do the dishes and watch romcoms with you but you don’t want any of it, you want to feel your own pain?

When I look back on my former life as an able-bodied model, I would call myself ungrateful. This lack of gratitude drug into my life as a disabled person, and later as a disabled married person.

Part of this led to walls-up mode. Most people think I wear my heart on my sleeve, but really this is an act of pushing people away by oversharing. If someone really wanted my honest opinion, they’d probably have to cross Jurassic Antartica with added volcanoes to get it.

I finally revealed this to my husband today, with the caveat that for most of my life, I didn’t think people were safe. But when I put his wedding band on his finger, I marked him as someone who was safe. It was my job to get out of Jurassic Antartica and place him in the sunnier meadows of my mind so I could hear him out, and ultimately communicate with him.

I really don’t have anyone or anything I’m more grateful for than him. He finished building a 4 ft tall aromatherapy garden for me today. It’s that tall so I don’t hurt myself by bending over.

Remember, learning to love is just as hard as accepting it!

Trauma Therapy: Beginnings

My marriage counselor has been urging me to begin trauma therapy for PTSD for about a month now. I’ve been afraid to because Bear and I have been doing so well and I don’t want to have another meltdown. Then COVID happened, and I was even more afraid.

It turns out trauma therapy is not that hard to begin, but I suggest anyone reading this doesn’t do this alone. Please consult your friendly neighborhood psychologist.

Every Sunday, I write in a journal one traumatic memory. Then the rest of the days of the week, I read the memory aloud. On Saturday I read and process the memory with my counselor and my husband.

I’ve only been doing this for two days now and chose a relatively mild memory to start out with as I’m going through a medication change. I need to come up with a list of things for my husband to watch out for. So far, here’s what I’ve got:

  • Sudden lack of communication
  • Catatonia
  • Not wanting to cook
  • Sudden willfulness in my attitude against him
  • Sudden negative talk about our marriage
  • Use of the ‘D’ word (no, not the body part…)
  • Staying in bed all the time

Although, parts of these do sound like a pain flare, honestly. But parts of these sound like my version of a nervous breakdown.

Overall I’m glad I took the plunge while my husband is working from home so I can be monitored. I’ve been told that doing trauma work could possibly cure my pain, along with switching off of my psych med.

It’s gonna be a wild ride!