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When PTSD Moved In

Like any good story I should start at the beginning.

I grew up the youngest of six children. When I was 19 years old and knew everything (because every 19 year old knows absolutely everything) I left home and met my husband. It was a short courtship as he was in the Forces and living in Germany. I moved to Germany, we got married and came back to Canada with a baby on the way.

Fast forward a few years to when I was working as a child protection worker, my dream job. In my first year I had been held hostage, threatened, propositioned, assaulted and called every name under the sun, even attend a funeral or two but I loved my job. I had finally found something that I loved doing. I was a professional caregiver.

What I didn’t know was that I was sinking into a depression and after 13 years of doing what I loved things started to change. I started to avoid my job, I started to get angry for no apparent reason, I was changing. I went to see my doctor and was diagnosed with depression, prescribed medication and started therapy. I began to recover and then had to make a decision: Do I return to a job that I loved but was killing me or choose me? I chose me.

Now at this point in my story you are probably all thinking ok, this happens every day, and you are right it does. I’m not special.

During 2015 my husband had a heart attack and he survived, my elderly mum began to go downhill. I travelled to BC six times, until August 19 when I said good bye to her for the last time, flew home and said goodbye to my old dog, and on August 20 my mum passed.

I was terrified that the darkness that I had fought to leave behind would come back, but a grandson came along four days later and showed me that there was something to be thankful for.

To recap, in one year I had lost a career that I loved, lost my dog, lost my mum, nearly lost my husband, and gained a grandson. Bring on 2016 was all I could think of, it had to be better right?

Wrong! In 2016 PTSD moved into my life. I was not diagnosed with PTSD—that story is not mine to share—but it was just as devastating.

As a social worker I knew about PTSD and how to help my clients. What I did not know was that there were no services or support for me. Nowhere could I find anything for me.

Depression started to slide back into my life and I was scared. Then I got a phone call, was asked what I was doing, why wasn’t I looking after myself. Why wasn’t I standing in my light? That one phone call led me on a journey of self-discovery that has changed me. I am strong, I am confident, I live in the light again. I started to believe in myself. I started to believe my loved ones were going to be ok. Now I could focus on me. During my journey I found me again and I am special.

If the only things my story has done is to remind each and every one of you that you are important, you are special, and that you have the strength to overcome obstacles and challenges in your life then I have done my job.

Editor’s note: FCA’s fact sheet, Taking Care of YOU: Self-Care for Family Caregivers, is an excellent resource for developing self-care skills. To better understand how caregiving can contribute to depression, check out another fact sheet, Depression and Caregiving.