My (ever-changing) New Normal

Yesterday, I had to ask my son for help. I was getting ready to go to a radio/video interview and became extremely overwhelmed. Not just public speaking jitters, but that terrible, debilitating overwhelmed that comes with having PTSD. He responded perfectly. His text said, “yep, I’ll be there at 4:20 to pick you up and be your therapy dog.” (you have to have a sense of humor when dealing with a mental health issue…or at least I do!) When we got to the studio, and I was about to go inside, the host came out and introduced herself to my son. He told her his name and said, I’m mom’s therapy dog today. The host loved it, laughed and asked him to come inside and hang out by the cameras and producers. It was so calming to have him right there with a big thumbs up, and at the same time, it was hard to ask for help from my son.

My symptoms have definitely affected my family the last eight years. I went from the grounded beacon of the family to initially becoming totally dependent on them. After I learned some coping and distress tolerance skills, I was again able to maintain a “mom role.” My children are in their twenty’s now and even though my kids have taken on different roles in helping me manage my illness, they still expect me to be mom when they need me. It’s become an awkward/brilliant line that we’ve all learned to walk. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to know that my daughter is not only my daughter but one of my caregivers. She is the one who can tell immediately if I am having a “bad day.” Among many other things, she knows how to help with a menu in a restaurant so I don’t get overwhelmed by choices. She can tell if I am in over my head and overwhelmed and can tell if I’m triggered. 

My son, who had the biggest problem adjusting because mom wasn’t the mom he expected anymore, has grown into taking the responsibility of managing anything that is concrete and sequential. He’s a teacher by profession and he feels best when he can problem solve an issue for me. He helps me with the things that can be extremely overwhelming, like making a power point for a presentation, or having to make calls that require going through multiple layers of people before getting the right one on the phone. 

My husband has been wonderful and supportive and picked up the slack when I couldn’t. He works hard, comes home from long physical days at work and still is attentive to his wife who has a chronic illness. He appreciates the help the kids provide as he has a lot on his plate. But our dynamic has changed too. He sleeps in another room during the week because of my screaming nightmares that wake him up. He has to get up at 4:30 am for work, so it’s imperative that he gets his sleep. We have been married for 33 years, so we adjusted and maintain the attitude that this is a temporary arrangement in response to my illness. 

It’s all okay, and sometimes it feels not okay. My family dynamic has changed, and that happens in life. All things change. When you are the reason for the change it’s a slippery slope from feeling like a burden to feeling like this is what happens in life and we adjust. Like any disease, PTSD doesn’t just affect one person, it affects all those in your life who care about and love you. 

My son calls our life the New Normal. He said, “at first, it was awful, terrible and scary. Now we know what to expect and we adjust. We all know how to work around and with your symptoms. It’s okay, it’s our life and we are lucky.”  As I continue to heal, and our family grows and changes our “normal” will become different all the time. I continue to stay hopeful and I’m extremely grateful that we found a way to stay together as a family,  knowing that things will never be the same. The lesson of the impermanence of life.

me-chels

image: Alexis Rose

 

 

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Thank you for reading my memoir, Untangled, A Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph

http://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph/dp/1514213222

https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-story-resilience-courage-triumph-ebook/dp/B013XA4856

 

 

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45 thoughts on “My (ever-changing) New Normal

  1. Thank You for your kind words and sharing with me the challenge of accepting your diagnosis. I think sometimes the hardest for me, is the acceptance of my changed life and how it has affected my family. But we learn to move through it with support. (I think?!) Have a wonderful day! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so blessed to have a family that is taking “new normal” in stride. I have lupus and acceptance of diagnosis and change isn’t solely a process for the individual, it affects all. I’m sorry to hear things have been challenging, but I’m happy to see you have a wonderful support system ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So glad you have good support Alexis, it can’t be easy but it sounds as though you’re all pulling together through thus time. And in the end that’s all that matters. Take care. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Boundless Challenge #4 – Confessions of a Reborn Girl

  5. I totally understand that feeling. Yet, I’m your sure your kids, like my kids don’t view us a burden. We are just mom to them and they love us, like we love them. The wonderfulness of breaking the cycle of abuse. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. angyjenks

    Yeah I know some of the role reversal.. I depend a lot on my oldest son to be my friend, my strength and like your daughter mine to can sense my mood changes.. I don’t know if I will ever be me again but it’s my prayer that I will be a better me.. for me it’s a feeling of being weak and a burden to my son.. I know I’m not but I feel like.. I pray it gets better for you..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a great post about the twists and turns life can take. It’s wonderful that you and your family were able to navigate the changes together. It sounds like you have a pretty special family.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I LOVE that! He’s a keeper for sure. The interview went great. It comes out on Feb 11th. I’ll give the links when I get them. It was amazing to have the 2nd segment with this wonderfully articulate high schooler asking what kids can do if they find themselves or a friend in an abusive situation. And it was fun having my son there, since he’s a high school teacher. 😊💕

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank You my friend. You are also spreading the word, so wonderfully. In the gym, the woods, your blog! You rock, Summer! Im so glad we are holding each other through this process. Love you across the big-ass pond and back again. 💕🤗💕🤗💕

    Liked by 2 people

  10. My BF calls himself my Keeper. If he sees anything that might trigger my anxiety he quickly steers me the other way. We are lucky to have family that supports us so well! So the interview went well?

    Liked by 2 people

  11. This is a great description of what life with PTSD can be like. I’m glad you’re so honest about it as I hope it educates people how otherwise wouldn’t ‘get it’. I get it. Love you loads xxx 😊😙❤

    Liked by 2 people

  12. always amazes me – the way you share so beautifully – and you have proof that love grows love -your kids are a product of you – resilient and yet adaptable, you and your husband have raised good kids, there’s nothing more noble than this. Be rested and be energised with your own strength!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. TheOriginalPhoenix

    Wow that’s so cute of your son to be your therapy dog. 😂 He has a shining sense of humor. I’m so glad you have such a supportive family to help you through things. ❤ Stay strong.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. xaspierudegirlx

    Sorry to hear you have been going through such a rough patch in life. I hope it looks up for you. But it’s great to count on family when in need, you are lucky for that. Best wishes to you and your family. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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