How PTSD Made Tammy More Intent on Reaching Her Goals

I decided to go into the world of journalism at a very young age. I was so motivated to be a success in this field that I wrote myself a list. My goal in career life was to work on a PBS documentary and work at an alternative weekly. During my senior year of high school I even wrote a list of my goals. Little did I know at the time how necessary that list would become for me.

After I finished my year of study in the field of journalism, I headed home. My only thoughts then were to get home and end my current relationship. That all changed when I saw the lights of an ambulance behind me.

The official police report stated that I told the officer while at the neurological floor of the hospital that I worried I might have stepped on the breaks too hard. I do have a tendency to be overly truthful and I was on morphine at the time. Anyone who came in heard my entire life story and the jokes I made about my accident were tremendous. I could have said anything.

The neurologist who screwed in my halo told me that I’d be in a gadget the next three months. On the way out of my week-long stay at the hospital, they handed me a pamphlet about what to expect from having a head injury. I read it and it didn’t state forget about your journalism goals. To me that meant that I would still pursue my goal of becoming a journalist and this head injury wasn’t going to stop me.

For the next three months I sat on a couch and ate chocolate and watched reruns. I thought about the classes I missed and didn’t consider that I now had TBI or traumatic brain injury. The pamphlet did say that I would be overly worried about my loved ones. It did prepare me for the time my friend ended up being late to visit and I called her in tears worried something happened to her. It prepared me, but I still did it.

Physical Therapy and My Diagnosis of PTSD

For the next month after I got my halo off I had to workout at a center for physical therapy. They charted my progress and I will always remember an assistant saying to me, “You’re making a lot of progress Tammy. I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as you.”

When I did my exit interview, a different woman asked me questions so she could chart my improvement.

How Biofeedback Changed My Life

The charting listed improvement in all areas but sleeping. I told her I woke up in the middle of the night worried I couldn’t move. She nodded and said she would have me spend time with the Biofeedback Specialist and that I had PTSD. I remember that diagnosis and thinking it couldn’t be true. I had just gotten to the point at reaching all my goals, I couldn’t have something like PTSD stop me now. Well, it didn’t. It actually made me more intent at reaching all my goals. See, I remembered why I went to college, but couldn’t even accomplish basic grammar. Before my accident, I was a whiz at words. I remembered that. I didn’t remember feeling anything for my current boyfriend. Everyone told me that I did. Stupidly, I believed them. That is another story.

How I Still Accomplished my Goals

I would recommend biofeedback to anyone who wants to improve their life.

I was experiencing what is referred to as Night Terrors. Right before I fell into full sleep, my body wouldn’t move and that lack of movement caused me to panic. That was how I had PTSD. Because I broke my neck and worried so much about spinal injury, during that subconscious part of sleep I would dream that my car accident paralyzed me and I could no longer move.

I spent the next week with my fingers attached to what looked like thumb protectors with wires that connected to a keyboard. For several hours a day I would train myself to control my own blood pressure. If I started to panic a rock or balloon would fly up and if I relaxed too much the rock or balloon would fall. After that week when I fell into subconscious, I didn’t panic thinking I couldn’t move and fell into restful sleep.

To this day I know how to stay calm in stressful situations. I achieved both my career goals and kept myself calm during stressful editorial meets when I blanked out and couldn’t even remember what I was there for. No one ever knew I was having a moment of TBI. I didn’t want them to know. I was embarrassed to have both TBI and PTSD.

I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll always have PTSD and TBI moments. I’ll always blank out on things. Still, I did achieve everything I set out to do and now everyone knows I did it while recovering from a head injury.  

Yes, I’ve been laughed at about my halo scars. People don’t know what they are. In my experience people fear most what they don’t understand.

I will always question if I should have explained more why I have halo scars. It’s also my understanding that if you’re in the midst of someone who wants to point out your flaws, avoidance is always the best option. Compassion is something developed, and if they are a full adult without compassion it’s best to let them be.

I’ll always have TBI and PTSD, but it doesn’t have me. I did finish my list. I barely remember writing it, but I did check off everything.

-Tammy

Thanks for reading! Please leave any comment about your PTSD.

Here’s my story about Social Anxiety.

More PTSD Testimonials Here.

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