Contrary to what many people believe, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t limited to just troops serving overseas. PTSD looks different for every person affected by it, and its causes are practically endless. From ongoing stress to one-time catastrophic events that completely alter a person’s outlook on life, PTSD is more than just feelings of anxiety and fear. It’s a mental condition that can all but take over someone’s life.
Parenting is hard enough when you’re healthy and mentally and physically well, but it’s a daily struggle when you’re facing an invisible disease that most people have no clue you’re grappling with. Plus, people on the outside looking in often critique a mom based on her outward behavior alone- without knowing what’s happening inside her head and her body.
Moms are subject to judgment and guilt-tripping from the moment they get pregnant, and it doesn’t get any easier once you’ve birthed your baby and run smack into the PTSD wall.
For these moms with PTSD, it’s tough enough to face the day knowing that your illness will no doubt rear its ugly head, but it’s more difficult because they’re also doing their best to be good moms at the same time.
15 Singer Threatens Self-Harm
Sinead O’Connor has a long and unfortunate history with PTSD following abuse as a child, People reported, which culminated in threats of suicide over Facebook and verbal attacks on her former manager and family. O’Connor is mom to four kids, the youngest of which she has been in custody battles over with each of their fathers.
The Daily Mail covered O’Connor’s most recent cry for help, where she posted videos from a motel alternately talking about how great her life was, and then calling herself names and saying she needed to go back to the hospital. Following her social media outburst, a post was made on O’Connor’s Facebook page saying that the singer was in good hands and was safe. Still, fans were distraught over O’Connor’s suicide threats and those local to her rushed to her aid.
14 Motherhood Refreshes Long-Hidden Memories
New mom Erin felt at home as a new mom, she wrote on Her View From Home. She bonded with her baby and felt carefree and that all was right in the world. When her second child arrived, Erin became overwhelmed. She says that she began to deteriorate mentally, and she knew it was because she had never dealt with past trauma from her childhood, repressed memories that she had never consciously explored.
Erin explains that often she would feel intense rage, though not directed at her children, that would make it hard to function. But after attending counselling and finally receiving her diagnoses- Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, and ADD- this mom of two finally had a game plan. Getting her medications adjusted helped her manage and enjoy her life after a long season of emotional challenges.
13 New Baby Is PTSD Trigger
Dawn Daum wrote a personal reflection for The Establishment that shares her story about living with PTSD after suffering years of abuse as a child up through her teen years. Daum says that she waited until she felt fully prepared for motherhood to try to start a family- she went through years of therapy, felt emotionally stable, and developed coping mechanisms for her triggers.
But her carefully laid plans fell apart when her first child was born and she felt triggered by the basic elements of parenting- nurturing and protecting her babies. She worried about crossing boundaries with them, but also about offering enough affection to deepen their bonds. Ultimately, day-to-day parenting can cause PTSD flare-ups that are dangerous to survivors- but Daum, and others, can learn to manage those triggers and profoundly change their families’ lives.
12 Childhood Trauma Beneath The Surface
Married mom of four Emilia marks the end of her first marriage with a break in her mental health. As a victim of her husband’s anger and jealousy, Emilia flashed back to previous traumatic events in her childhood- trauma that would impede her ability to function normally as an adult. She suffered horrific verbal, physical, and intimate abuse as a child, and her dysfunctional and abusive marriage brought back up memories of those events.
While Emilia went on to struggle with PTSD as an adult, her experiences as a child were deeply ingrained in her psyche, and trauma in her adult life brought up those previously suppressed memories. Thankfully, Emilia went on to recover and thrive in life as she learned to live with PTSD. She’s even writing a memoir about her recovery and the pain and suffering in her life that gave way to hope.
11 Mental Breakdown Makes Mom Seek Help
One mom wrote via XO Jane that a traumatic brush with what she thought was death would lead to her mental breakdown months later. As she faced a man who she thought was pointing a real gun at her, this mom was petrified. She later had flashbacks to the event, couldn’t handle the small stressors of daily life, and regressed into herself and her home to feel safe.
The writer notes that this was the darkest time of her life, but that she gradually improved her mindset and ability to handle stress by attending counseling and undergoing exposure therapy. This therapy brought her back to that fateful day’s events through physically getting closer to the place where it happened so that she could eventually move past it. Through therapy, she was able to regain her sense of self and grow as a person.
10 Mom Disassociates To Cope
Kathy Parker wrote a glaringly honest account of her daily experiences mothering with PTSD for Elephant Journal, in which she explains that her main challenge with experiencing panic attacks and anxiety is her tendency to disassociate emotionally. Parker admits that it’s hard to stay tuned in to her everyday life, whether it’s her kids talking to her or trying to attend one of their school events.
Parker’s crippling anxiety make it hard for her to leave the house some days. She notes that when she retreats inside her own mind, numb to the outside world, she’s tempted to stay there. The darkness beckons to her, and she has to suffer through in her own time until she’s ready to come back to the “real” world. She laments the fact that her kids miss out while she’s checked out, but continues to fight the “silent and invisible battle.”
9 Parenting Through PTSD
Mom Catherine shared with Mama Smiles her day-to-day struggles and strategies for managing mental illness while living your life to the fullest. She notes that while she had PTSD and depression before becoming a mom, two traumatic birth experiences combined with sleep deprivation and just general stress caused her to teeter on the edge of panic nearly every day.
While Catherine admits that living, let alone parenting, with mental illness is a challenge, but she doesn’t aim for perfection. Rather, she aims for understanding and compassionate with herself and her children. She models emotional processing and regulation for her kids, hoping to help them learn to vocalize and tame their difficult emotions, too. Catherine also emphasizes that even though she might have bad thoughts, they don’t make her a bad person- and that depression is not the boss of her!
8 Mom Saves Son From Unfit Dad
When mom Elizabeth, writing for All Things Mom Sydney, met her now-ex, she was an impressionable teenager and immediately fell in love. Not only was she underage, but her partner became abusive rather quickly. Nearing the end of their four-year relationship, Elizabeth wrote, her ex was physically, sexually, verbally, and emotionally abusive.
When the couple’s son was born, that was Elizabeth’s wakeup call. She left her abusive ex and grew the courage to testify against him, which resulted in his going to prison. Still, Elizabeth writes, it wasn’t easy recovering from those years of abuse that were so deeply ingrained in her body and her mind. Now that she deals with PTSD, she finds it hard to manage flashbacks, emotional reactivity, intrusive thoughts, and even disassociation while she lives her day-to-day life with her son. Still, Elizabeth was lucky to have escaped the relationship with her life (and her son’s).
7 Mental Illness Causes Physical Illness
Mom Rachel Hope had a traumatic childhood, suffering both abuse and a horrific car accident that left her needing multiple surgeries just to live a somewhat normal life. Following those events, PTSD showed up in the form of nightmares, chronic hyper-arousal, panic, and anxiety, she told She Knows. Further, those ailments led to physical manifestations in the form of irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers, chronic pain, and other illnesses related to stress.
Hope explains that she would even jump and scream when hearing unexpected noises like a phone ringing, or even someone’s voice. During her journey battling PTSD, Hope had two children but continued to deal with troubling symptoms like continuous vomiting and crippling panic that kept her from venturing out of her home. Thankfully, Hope survived it all and saw amazing results after undergoing medicinal treatment for her PTSD.
6 Shocking Birth Unsettles Mom
New mom Jada expected a run-of-the-mill hospital birth complete with IV drugs and a stress-free delivery. But, as she told Café Mom, that isn’t what she got. Shortly before it was time to push her son out, Jada’s epidural stopped working, and she had a panic attack once she realized she was completely out of control in the situation. Then she required an episiotomy to get her son out safely.
After things quieted down following her son’s birth, Jada could only continue to relive the trauma of the delivery, and suffered nightmares every night for months. She had visions of her son dead from some accident involving her tripping on the stairs, holed up in her home, and rarely ventured out into what felt like a dangerous and scary world. Finally, though, Jada got help, and with medication and therapy and learned to deal with her PTSD.
5 Near-Fatal Experience Results In PTSD
Mom Timoria writes for Every Mother Counts that her journey with PTSD was a long and lonely one, until she learned about Every Mother Counts and its efforts to connect moms and help them recover. While her pregnancy and labor with her daughter was uneventful, Timoria explains that immediately after she delivered her baby, she learned her life was in danger.
A hemorrhage put Timoria’s life at risk, and emergency personnel swarmed the delivery room and whisked her off to a three-hour surgery that she remained conscious for. Afterward, Timoria was grateful to be alive, and dove into motherhood head-first. But her guilt, anger, fear, and sadness surrounding her recovery from birth were symptoms of PTSD, something she didn’t know was possible until she learned of other moms with the same experiences.
4 PTSD Tell-All Lets Moms Relate
Reaca Pearl, a mom who has PTSD that can wreak havoc on her everyday life, wrote for Romper a list of things she wants people to know about the condition. Living with trauma, Pearl says her life is like a rollercoaster, and her PTSD affects everything from her ability to focus in certain situations to snapping at her kids for behavior that’s totally normal at their ages. She admits that it’s challenging to take her own advice, which, as a trauma therapist, is to find time for self-care.
When her PTSD sparks emotional episodes or severe stress, Pearl shares that it’s difficult to stay in the moment and handle every scenario carefully. Often, she feels guilty for her interactions with her kids, since it’s not really them that she’s having a hard time dealing with- it’s a condition that’s invisible to the many judgmental eyes watching.
3 NICU-PTSD Triggers Painful Emotions
Mom Katherine wrote for The Tot about the delivery and NICU stay of her second child, which resulted in what her doctor called NICU-PTSD. While the family practically lived in the hospital for four months, tending to baby Emerson from 29 weeks until she was released to go home, the stress and needs of her family kept Katherine going.
Once Emerson came home, Katherine continued to suffer from feelings of doubt, resentment, and severe despair. She couldn’t understand why, once Emerson was finally home and safe, she couldn’t feel “normal.” Thankfully, Katherine later found like-minded moms who had experienced the “twisted” emotion of having a NICU baby come home. Dealing with emotional triggers like a friend’s miscarriage, hospital bills, and day-to-day stresses continued to keep Katherine down, but as her daughter neared a year old, the anxiety began to subside.
2 Loss Of Son Results In Mom’s PTSD
As one mom wrote for Huffington Post, the unexpected loss of her second child rocked her world in all the worst ways. She could barely function afterward, although she still had to take care of her then-2-year-old and maintain some semblance of a normal life. Mom Meghan shared that after her stillborn son Miles arrived, she dreaded everyday interactions with people who had seen her pregnant- their well-meaning questions sparked her anxiety, which never really took a day off.
Meghan comments that she underwent grief counseling and started on medication to help her make it through each day. When she became pregnant with her daughter, she stressed about every aspect of the pregnancy, but focused on counting her baby’s kicks to make sure all was right in her belly. Thankfully, Meghan’s daughter arrived perfectly healthy, and as she moves forward despite her PTSD, she honors Miles’ life each day.
1 Traumatic Birth As A Battlefield
Any parent who has watched their tiny, premature infant struggle to live in the NICU understands this mom’s comparing the NICU to a battlefield. Every day is wrought with anxiety and pure terror- the fear of losing your child who has already struggled so hard just to stay alive. Moms with babies in the NICU are on an adrenaline kick that involves barely sleeping, wrapping their heads around treatment plans, medications, and vital sign stats, and trying to not let their homes fall apart or their other children feel neglected.
After NICU babies come home, the fight isn’t over, and the anxiety only worsens as PTSD intensifies. Many moms experience postpartum depression, or “mommy blues,” but PTSD is a severe condition that won’t just go away as baby gets older, and it’s dangerous not only to mom, but to her baby’s wellbeing too.
Sources: People, Daily Mail, Her View From Home, Huffington Post, The Establishment, OC87 Recovery Diaries, XO Jane, Elephant Journal, Mama Smiles, All Things Mom Sydney, She Knows, Café Mom, Every Mother Counts, Romper, The Tot