I have probably been dealing with Complex PTSD for most of my adult life: I just didn’t know. I was formerly diagnosed only five years ago, after a chain of events provoked a very scary emotional breakdown. This was the start of a long and rocky journey, and it is far from over. In retrospect, now that I know what I am dealing with, I understand a lot more about my own life, my past choices, and myself.
I was overwhelmed and I am pretty sure it nearly killed me
When the memory floodgates opened suddenly and unexpectedly, I was overwhelmed and I am pretty sure it nearly killed me. I had no idea what was happening to me, so I went to the doctor, who was pretty quick at figuring things out. He immediately asked the right questions and the diagnosis came swiftly: in the same week I had started medication and therapy.
It may be hard to believe, but I hadn’t acknowledged until then that what I had suffered through childhood and adolescence was severe physical, verbal and psychological abuse[^1], and that it had shaped me in many ways. I have since then been working on my recovery.
[^1]: I put sexual abuse in a different category. Its psychological effects I have yet to discover and it doesn’t feel like it should be put with the rest as it was perpetrated by a different person and is not part of the continuity of the many years of upbringing for which the rest of the abuse was a constant.
PTSD can be crippling at times, and as much as I am willing to fight my way towards recovery, I have my moments of doubt. The problem is that the process of healing does not follow a linear progression (nor is it logarithmic or exponential, let’s not play word games). It is more of a jagged line, with alternating progress and setbacks. Two steps forward, one step back. Despite having made a lot of progress (EMDR therapy really helped with the flashbacks), the past year has yielded very little result and I am at a standstill: I am no longer in the bad place I was in five or four years ago, but I am not 100% back to normal. Not even close to 60%. And I cannot go on living like this. It is too exhausting.
So last December I decided to bite the bullet and apply for a two-month inpatient program at the Homewood Health Centre in Guelph. It is called PTSR, short for “Program for Traumatic Stress Recovery”, the first of its kind in Canada, and one of the very few existing options. Guelph happens to be 45 minutes from home, so it is also kind of convenient.
I will be cut from the rest of the world and all that will matter to me is working on recovering, without the distraction of what we call everyday life
The program in itself is covered by OHIP, the provincial health care plan, but Homewood is a private institution that offers semi-private or private amenities at a high price. OHIP-covered ward beds are also available but the waiting list is so backlogged that it is now closed and the wait time for the lucky ones who are on it is several years. Yes: years.
I initially thought that hospitalisation in a semi-private room was covered by my work health insurance, but somehow it got sneakily scratched out of our group plan, so I don’t have coverage. Noey’s insurance will only cover rehab, not mental health treatment, so no luck for me because I do not have a substance abuse issue.
I nevertheless decided to go ahead and pay out of pocket (out of line of credit, actually) and was accepted to the wait list for a semi-private bed. While waiting for a spot to open I had a seizure and I had to deal with the neurology department. I thus had to move the start date I was offered from May 4th to June 21st.
So here I am, two weeks from residential treatment at Homewood. My last day of work before Homewood is next Friday; I must admit I am having a hard time heading to work in the morning, and when I get there I have very little motivation or willpower. I am just waiting for it to be over with.
So starting June the 21st and for a period of two months I will be cut from the rest of the world and all that will matter to me is working on recovering, without the distraction of what we call everyday life. I really doubt that I will be as connected as I am today, so I will bring a pen and notebook and take notes in the good old-fashioned way. Hopefully things are not too diffcult for me when I’m there, so I can write some sort of journal to recount the life of a mental-health patient on a two-month inpatient treatment at a psychiatric facility (doesn’t it sound fancy when put this way?)
Maybe I’ll share my experience at Homewood when I am back. But then again, maybe not.