PTSD by Anonymous

   I am 31 years old and a single mother of two girls, ages 4 and 5.  I was first diagnosed with PTSD when I was 29 years old, although I had obvious symptoms beginning at the age of 16.  I had suffered from extreme abuse as a child, including mental, physical, emotional, and sexual, and also severe neglect.  When I began to have intimate relations with males, I noticed having severe reactions to situations revolving around sexuality and/or violence.  I did not have the awareness at that age of the traumas that I had suffered.  I did not even know what trauma was. 

Over a period of ten years or so, I began to realize that I was having specific problems in areas that other people seemed perfectly okay with - I could not go to movies that were violent or had sexual content, especially depictions of rape or incest or infidelity, without having reactions so severe that I would actually have to leave the theatre.  I had difficulty maintaining close friendships where trust was involved.  Just the thought that the person I was intimate with might be even mentally unfaithful would sink me into deep depression.  Also, although I had never given it much thought, I had bowel movements only once every 5 or 6 days, sometimes longer. 

I began using marihuana recreationally at age 16, and continued occasional use until about the age of 26, at which point I began to smoke it each evening.  I could not watch television or go to movies, and marihuana seemed like a harmless way to fight boredom.  I still did not know at that time why I had such severe reactions to the content of media.  All I knew was that I didn't want to have anything to do with it because it made me so upset.  After a few failed relationships and people telling me I was crazy all of the time, I found myself with two toddlers and in another failing relationship.  I had been home every day for 3 years raising the babies and getting testier and testier. I found myself becoming abusive with the children.  Sometimes the exact phrases my mother had used on me and my siblings would come out of my mouth seemingly of their own accord.  Luckily I had the presence of mind to seek professional help at that point.  I began therapy and remained in it for about 2 years. 

 I was prescribed Neurontin and Prozac.  The Neurontin made me very sleepy and the Prozac made me manic.  I began doing things I ordinarily would not do, such as staying out all night, drinking heavily, getting into dangerous situations.  I think the Prozac did help me through a difficult breakup by alleviating depression, but I did not feel that I was really ME.  I felt like I was some other person who really didn't care about anything except having a good time.  So I stopped both the Neurontin and the Prozac in an attempt to regain control of my life.  I continued my use of marihuana. 

At this point in my life, age 31, I feel pretty in control of my situation.  The children are very happy and well.  I am back in school.  Marihuana is an extremely helpful medication for me.  I can sleep fairly well at night, whereas without it I am lucky to get 3 or 4 hours at best.  The things my children do are cute rather than intensely irritating.  I have a bowel movement every day.  I can think clearly and rationally.  I make good decisions, both for myself and for my children.  I experience both increased sexual desire and enjoyment.  I am calm.  I am okay with hanging out at the house.  I can accept my limitations without becoming depressed.  I can be happy.  I can be silly.  I can be fun.  When I am confronted with a situation that engages my fight or flight response, I can take a few puffs from a joint and deal with the situation calmly, kindly, lovingly, expressively.  No, marihuana does not make my problems go away.  But having the ability to control my thoughts, and thus my reactions, in combination with being able to sleep at night, certainly makes me a much better mother.  And THAT is what matters most.