Monday, January 1, 2018

Fight to take back your life! I did!

Trauma is what happens but surviving is what we make it!

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 1, 2018
By the time this picture was taken, I had already survived five times.

Before I turned six, it was already three times. There was a car accident and I still have the scar on my chin from hitting the dashboard while my head hit the windshield. 

I was pushed off a slide, had a concussion and scull fracture (along with brain damage) but the Doctor missed all that and told my parents to let me have a good nights sleep.

The next day, it was obvious I was in trouble. The next Doctor told my parents that I should have died twice the night before. Not "could have" but "should have died." There was no reason I was still alive.

Then there was the health scare that was caused by shingles. Yes, the one that "old people" get. It was horrible, painful and terrifying but usually not life threatening. It only seemed that way.

My Dad turned into a violent alcoholic but I was not his target. My oldest brother was. He kept drinking and causing misery until I was 13. Then he stopped after the was pulling apart the living room, threw a chair that almost hit me. He didn't know I was there.

Years later, another car accident. That was followed by my ex-husband coming home from work one night and deciding I needed to die. He stalked me for over a year.

By the time I met my Vietnam veteran husband, I understood what trauma could do to a person first hand. While I did not know what war was like, even though my Dad and Uncles were veterans, I just knew what war was doing to them.

I miscarried twins and hemorrhaged. By then I knew what PTSD was but what I didn't know was that night was PTSD was about to get worse. He totally changed. When our Doctor explained the egg split wrong, he refused to listen and blamed himself for having Agent Orange.

After our daughter was born, I had an infection that did not totally clear up and I ended up in the hospital. Yet again, I heard the words "should have died" when my Doctor said he had never seen a bacteria count that high on a live patient.

That was the last thing I could take. My husband was no longer my best friend. He was a stranger and he was standing by the hospital bed holding our baby, listening as the nurse told him I was fighting for my life. They didn't know I was praying to let go of it.

I lost all hope and the will to fight. Then I understood what drove people to commit suicide. The only thing that stopped me was when I was able to open my eyes long enough to see our daughter's big brown eyes looking right back at me. I couldn't leave her.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because while trauma cannot be prevented, what it does can be stopped from taking over your life.

In my family, there were no secrets. Everything was talked to death. Turns out that is what Crisis Intervention does. It takes you out of the abnormal moments of facing death and brings the survivor back into a safe place within what "normal" life should be.

I knew the worst that could happen but also knew how to take back control over the rest of my life. I became a Chaplain for that reason and trained with the IFOC so that I could help first responders and veterans better than I could have on my own. 

That training was followed by two more years worth of every free training I could get here in Florida. I refuse to be called a "victim" of anything. I AM A SURVIVOR! I do not have PTSD because of what was done soon after the times that tried to take my life.

We learned a lot of things from Vietnam veterans coming home and fight for all the research. I learned a lot about veterans because of the veterans in my life. I learned a lot about about lives can be so much better when we fight to take back control and heal.

Over 35 years later, researching, living with PTSD, I am living proof that tomorrow does not have to be another dark day of misery. It can be a brighter day with the hope of healing.

I also became a leader with Point Man International Ministries because of the spiritual healing that must be included when treating PTSD, especially within those who faced multiple traumatic events.

Some advice on this first day of the New Year. Take the negative energy you are using up and use it to put something good into your life. Fight as hard now to heal as you did to survive the "IT" that could have killed you and stop thinking it "should have" killed you.

Defeat PTSD and fight to take back your life! I did!