People with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often suffer in silence. In this post, a mother of two shares her story on finally getting help for her PTSD and learning how to better manage her symptoms.
PTSD and motherhood brings its own challenges, because you’re responsible for caring for others even when you aren’t feeling your best. Rhiannon shares how she gets by and what’s gotten better over time.
Rhiannon is from Wales, so a quick note for those of us across the pond: mam = mom and sprog = child.
Thank you, Rhiannon, for sharing your story!
Check out the rest of the Mom Triumphs series for more inspirational stories of how real moms have overcome serious challenges.
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Tips are based on personal experience and should not be considered medical advice. Full disclaimer.
Rhiannon’s Story of PTSD and Motherhood
Tell us a little about you! Where are you from? What do you like to do? What is your family like?
Hi!! My name is Rhiannon. I’m a 29-year-old mam of 2 little sprogs, and I live in not so sunny Wales. At home we have the love of my life and best friend, my husband Gav. Then we have the boy sprog, Riley, and girl sprog Mollie-Grace. We can’t forget our fur baby Olly!!
I have various health conditions, and I also suffer from PTSD.
Although I love blogging, I’m also a hairdresser and wig consultant. Not full-time mind you due to my health, but I still keep my hand at it!!
What is a major challenge that you’ve experienced during your time as a mom?
The hardest thing has been my struggle with PTSD. From the symptoms to the diagnosis and then going through trauma therapy, all whilst being stuck in the house with the sprogs during the current pandemic.
What were your thoughts when you first encountered this challenge?
In all honesty, I was terrified. One of the symptoms of PTSD is irritability, and I didn’t want to take anything out on the sprogs. I’d often sit there in silence fighting the urge not to shout at them if they were playing loudly or cry when I’d been up all night and having ‘mammy mammy’ every 2 minutes said to me through the day.
How did you figure out what approach to take in facing your challenge? Did your approach change over time?
I knew I needed help. I felt like I was going out of my mind!! The only way I could get calmness in the house was to tell them I had a bad head. And trust me, there were A LOT of bad head days!! But I knew I couldn’t go on like that, so when I started therapy, I learnt the skills I needed to refocus and calm myself when my symptoms were at their peak.
What helped you during times when you were struggling? Did you have any support?
My biggest support was and is my husband. When he was home from work, he would take over “parenting” shall we say, and if anything had happened while he was at work, i.e. sprogs being naughty, my go-to was just to say “you wait until daddy comes home.” That was my get out of jail free card to stop me losing it with them if I was having a bad day and feared I couldn’t hold it together.
My parents are also a godsend. If Gav was at work and I had therapy, my dad would come up so I wasn’t alone when I finished. Or if I needed a break, they would have the sprogs overnight (before the pandemic) so I could have some “me time.”
How do you take care of yourself?
Self-care has become a MUST for keeping on top of my symptoms. It may not seem like much, but when you’ve been up all night with night terrors, then spent the day irritable, fatigued, and being a personal slave to little crotch goblins, a soak in the bath before bed is like a magic pill.
I love using Olbas oil bubble bath as the aroma—it is very soothing and relaxing. I try and have a soak every night when the sprogs go to bed so I know nobody is going to be walking in for a million wees!!
I also try and keep to a routine. I set an alarm to wake me every day around 9:30 regardless of whether I’ve been up half the night or not. Before I do any housework or blogging, I sit at my desk and do my hair, skin routine, and draw my eyebrows on (there is a reason to my madness!!). My brow hairs always fall out and grow sparsely, so drawing them on makes me more confident and sets my mood for the day.
Did this challenge affect others in your family? How did you balance addressing their needs and your own?
Having PTSD affects everyone around you. Mood swings can make the people around you usure of how to react when you may come across harsh and you don’t mean to. It’s important that they understand (or at least try to) that the way you may speak to them at times may come across aggressive when you didn’t intend to.
I found that if I was having a bad day, I would always tell my husband and parents so that they would know I may need time alone or that I may not be myself.
How are things today versus when you first encountered this challenge?
A lot better!! I have since completed group trauma therapy and one-to-one trauma therapy/cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and learnt what my triggers are and how to control most of my symptoms to an extent. Granted I still have bad days–PTSD doesn’t just go away–but at least now on my bad days, I am able to manage being at home with the sprogs without feeling overwhelmed so much.
What advice would you give other moms going through something similar?
Seek help. A lot of people are too ashamed to get help or have therapy, but eventually we will crack. I got to the stage where I feared for my life, and looking back now, I wish I’d gotten help sooner. Don’t feel guilty for having bad thoughts about anything, and remember that it’s ok to not be ok!!
Find a person you trust that you can talk to so that you’re not holding all those emotions in. Most of all, know your worth. You are worthy of living a better life and you deserve happiness.
Are there any helpful resources you would recommend?
My biggest help has been learning different distraction techniques. I’ve shared my top 2 that I find work for both myself and my son on my blog that you can read here.
What’s your super power as a mom?
Ohh tough one!! I honestly have no idea, just being a mam is a super power in itself!!
What have you learned or gained from this experience?
That once again I can do anything I put my mind to. I am strong inside and out, and I’ve learned my self-worth. I have gained so much knowledge about the way I look at the world and most importantly how I look at myself.
I now know my triggers, strengths, and weaknesses. Learning about distraction techniques has also helped me as a mam to help my children calm down when they’re struggling with their own issues.
About the Author
Rhiannon is a Welsh blogger who writes about her life living with chronic health conditions and mental health issues as a wife, mother, and daughter in the hopes that she can help educate others on invisible illness and help those who suffer with similar conditions to not feel so alone in the world.
Along with her blog, she dabbles with makeup on Instagram and reviews products from all over the world. She is currently in the middle of starting her own YouTube channel. You can also find her on Twitter and Pinterest.