4 February 2021

Living with PTSD after miscarriage.

I wake up and I know it’s another foggy head day. My brain is ticking over slowly and my mind wading through the layers of fog that fill it. No concentration or focus is available today, no matter how hard I try. I occasionally feel detached from my own body – it feels like my mind and body are separated. Ever walk into a room to grab something and forget what you need? That is the best way to sum it up.. except I feel like I have forgotten to grab myself. It’s like my brain left my body sitting on the sofa.

These things aren’t always easy to admit and they are usually thoughts I try to bury.. but negative thoughts fill my mind daily. It takes over everything else. ‘Nothing good will ever happen to me and everything will leave me. I will lose everything. Everything goes wrong’ And then the next minute, I want to fight and shout.. I feel so irritable it eats away at me. I know this isn’t me, or at least it never used to be, but I can’t help it. Anxiety riddles through me and I have no interest in anything.. some days I feel nothing (but I try, I really do)

I feel like a fraction of the ‘old me’, a version of myself that seems so far away I may never catch her again.

Recently, I came across a study by Tommys. It explained that some Women could experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after miscarriage. I clicked on the article link – not because I thought it resonated at the time – but because I had only heard of PTSD affecting soldiers or those surviving terrible accidents, so it peaked my interest.

I read all night. I googled it, downloaded books and low and behold.. they were describing me.

I sometimes find that miscarriage (specifically early miscarriage) can be dulled down a lot. People talk of it as “a heavy period” and this is all down to lack of knowledge. Before my own miscarriage experience.. I would most likely describe it this way too. However, when you have a miscarriage, you are giving birth.. no matter how many weeks you are. It is painful both physically and also mentally. There is a lot to deal with in both aspects and you feel as though you have lost more than you could ever imagine. It is truly heart breaking.

In one article I came across, a professor from Imperial College London and a consultant gynaecologist at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital said “For many women, pregnancy loss will be the most traumatic event in their life” and gosh, did I feel seen.

It is traumatic. It is painful and it does leave its mark.

Symptoms of PTSD can be as follows:

  • Flashbacks—reliving the traumatic event, and feeling like it happening right now including physical symptoms such as a racing heart or sweating
  • Reoccurring memories or nightmares related to the event
  • Distressing and intrusive thoughts or images
  • Physical sensations like sweating, trembling, pain or feeling sick.
  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling that you need to keep yourself busy all the time
  • Using alcohol or drugs to avoid memories
  • Feeling emotionally numb or cut off from your feelings
  • Feeling numb or detached from your body
  • Being unable to remember details of the trauma
  • Being jumpy and easily startled
  • Feeling tense, on guard, or “on edge” – this is called hypervigilance
  • Having difficulty concentrating on even simple and everyday tasks
  • Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feeling irritable and having angry or aggressive outbursts
  • Self-destructive or reckless behaviour
  • Trouble remembering key features of the traumatic event
  • Feeling like you can’t trust anyone
  • Distorted thoughts about the trauma that cause feelings of blame and guilt
  • Overwhelming negative emotions, such as fear, sadness, anger, guilt, or shame
  • Loss of interest in previous activities
  • Feeling like nowhere is safe
  • Difficulty feeling positive emotions, such as happiness or satisfaction

I know, right? If you’re looking at this list and nodding at most of them.. I feel you.

Occasionally knowing why you’re feeling the way you do, can provide comfort and I personally now understand my feelings much more and also blame myself less too. I get the bad days a little more and I tend to cut myself some slack, rather than aim negative thoughts at myself. It’s a long road though and definitely something I will look into therapy for one day, once I build up the courage.

However, if you are struggling and feel you need help then be assured help is available. In terms of treatment for PTSD following loss, therapy seems to be the way to go but this is also something that can be discussed with your GP too. You can read more about the treatment options here. If that’s a not for you right now, that’s okay too and never put yourself under pressure until you’re ready.

Talking can also provide comfort in trying times and having someone to speak too can make such a difference. If you’re worried they might not understand PTSD then sending them this post or similar articles could be helpful. Like I said previously, there is a lack of knowledge when it comes to miscarriage but by sharing information, you can help to change this.

I want to end this post by telling you that you are not alone. Miscarriage is extremely difficult and it’s okay if you’re having a tough time. I’m two years on from my last loss and whilst it does get easier with time, it still hurts and as you can see above… PTSD still plays a part in my life. This doesn’t mean that life will never be good again, because it will. Even on my darkest days, I know the sun will still shine on me eventually and I want you to know this to.

Sending love & warmth, always.

More Information & personal stories of PTSD I found helpful: PTSD.org / Tommys Charity / Sky News Article / Elle

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