Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Loving someone with PTSD @tdanielsauthor

Several months ago I began what I intended to be a series of blog posts that introduced you to my Bound4Ireland story. I wanted to share with you how the story came to life. If you missed the posts on how this story came to me, take a moment and go read them. You won’t be disappointed I promise. In between posts, I saw something shiny, or I had other thoughts I needed to share and I got a little off-track. Before you read the rest of this story, I want you to understand that my thoughts and opinions on this subject are just that… MY thoughts and opinions based on MY experiences. Everyone has different experiences and opinions that are completely valid. I’m only speaking from mine, with no intentions of upsetting or offending anyone who also has personal experience with today’s topic. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to return to my regularly schedule programming. Bound4Ireland: the early years. 

Let me introduce to you my heroin, Olivia James. Brilliant IT specialist and over achiever. She puts 150% into everything she does. She CANNOT fail. Failing is not acceptable. She sounds like a bright, strong heroin. One that every woman would want to read about. Yes? There’s only one problem. Olivia has a flaw. One that made me very nervous. You see, Olivia is a survivor of domestic violence. She was victim of something so horrible that she, herself, refuses to accept what happened to her. Suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) she builds up walls to help stay off her triggers and keep her safe.

I really wanted everyone to love Olivia, flaws and all. That wasn’t the case at first. In my first draft of Intractable Souls - book one of the Bound4Ireland series, a large number of readers despised my heroin. Feedback revealed that they thought she was flaky and immature. One reader went as far as to say that she found her ‘annoying’ and couldn’t finish reading. I was disappointed. I think most authors include a little bit of themselves in every character they create. Those who know me well, quickly pointed out that there was A LOT of myself in Olivia. It was hard to argue. As I did a secondary read through my story, I realized that I had failed in explaining her suffering and how that shaped the person she was at the beginning of the story. Just how much did my readers know about the condition known as post-traumatic stress?

How much do you know? Post-traumtic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that can occur after a person is exposed to a violent and/or life-threatening event. 60 - 80% of people who experience this type of event develops PTSD. Woman are twice as likely to develop this disorder. There are a wide range of symptoms, which are often misdiagnosed, including re-experiencing the trauma through recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares. Someone who suffers from PTSD may appear emotionally numb and avoids places, people and activities that are reminders of the trauma.

Don’t get me wrong when I say she had flaws. We all have them. Who wants to read about perfect people? Am I right? I’m not going to lie, I wanted my readers to like her (me). So, I spent months editing and re-writing because I wanted them to really understand her and the disorder. I wanted them to connect with her character and watch her heal and grow stronger. And I wanted those readers, who suffered from PTSD themselves, to know that there’s hope and there is love.

Love… now there was the next challenge. Anyone who suffers, or has a friend, or loved one who suffers from PTSD will understand that statement completely. It takes a special kind of person to love a survivor of violence. Some of you may think that you have a good understanding of the degree of difficulty that it causes in a relationship. I guarantee you, there are times that you could take that degree and multiply it by 100X and it still would fall short of how difficult it can be for the loved one of a PTSD sufferer. I know this, from experience. You see, as I’ve mentioned to you before, I am a survivor of domestic violence. I am also a survivor of a life-threatening head-on car collision with all three of my young children in the car. I witnessed a pedestrian crossing a busy road, being struck by a car with such force that her body was torn in half and I watched my grandfather die, while sitting beside him at dinner one evening and could do nothing to save him. The universe has thrown me more violent experiences then any one person should have to endure. My reward? PTSD.

When you love someone who suffers from any kind of anxiety disorder, it’s heart wrenching at times. There are many who just simply don’t understand. Everybody has stress, right? You just suck it up and deal with it. Isn’t that what normal people do? Believe me when I tell you, nobody wishes it was that easy more than I. Creating a hero, like Ethan O’Connell was easy. I could make him understand, and give him the unconditional and never-ending emotional strength to get them both through the episodes. In real life, it’s not that easy. People are… human and not everyone can handle dealing with someone’s severe anxiety disorders long term. It takes a special kind of person to do so. After 18 years of being guarded and trying to protect myself, enter Mr. Daniels.

I’ll admit that loving me isn’t easy. Gary always disagrees, and it amazes me that he thinks so. When we first met, I tried to push him away when he started to get too close, but he wasn’t having it. He quickly learned my triggers, and how to put me at ease. He knows when and how to settle me with the sound and tone of his voice. He pushes me, when I need it and calls me out on my own bullsh*t. He never gave up on loving me. The first year we were together the poor man lived on little, to no sleep, watching over me at night. He’ll tell you that he learned the hard way not to reach out and touch me, when I’m having a nightmare. Over that year, something amazing happened in my life. For the first time in nearly twenty years, I began to feel safe. Now the nightmares have faded, and rarely haunt my sleep. Love is real and life is good. For the most part, daily life is… daily life and we enjoy every minute of it.

Mr. Daniels always reminds me that I wasn’t broken. I was hurt. I didn’t need to be fixed, I needed to be loved and kept safe. Although episodes are fewer and farther between, PTSD still rears it’s ugly face without notice and he springs into action like a superhero. One day we were at a friend’s home for a bbq and their dogs started playing, chasing each other and barking around the backyard. Despite everything being a normal enjoyable afternoon, they whipped past my leg, nipping at each other and their act of aggression triggered my anxiety to go from zero to ten million in .2 seconds flat. Just as quickly, he jumped into action, got me away from the dogs and into a safe, calm space alone with him.

Returning to the party was embarrassing, although the hosts and other guests were all very nice to me and genuinely concerned. How do I explain my reaction? I was never, at any time that afternoon, in any danger. My brain tells me it’s irrational but the fear at that moment was painstaking real. I refuse to spend the rest of my life feeling afraid, and with Mr. D. beside me holding my hand, I am starting to take on the world again, one bbq at a time. I may not always feel normal, but I no longer feel flawed. That’s the feeling that I wanted my readers to walk away. A feeling that two imperfect people can love each other perfectly, and love helps you grow, heal and conquer. In real life it may not happen as quickly as it seems to in 260 pages of a romance novel, but it does happen. Trust me.

So how do you love someone with post-traumatic stress order? Mr. Daniels will tell you that it takes passion, patience, and perseverance. And when all else fails... Increase the dose.

For more information and support contact the PTSD Association of Canada or support group in your area. 

Are you looking for something different?  A change from bikers or rockstars and billionaires? Then the Bound4Ireland series is what you're looking for. Reviewers are calling this an emotionally charged series that you definitely don’t want to miss!
You can now save yourself a little money and buy all three ebooks in one collection and get the short story for free! 

Click here to order from Amazon.comThe Bound4Ireland Collection

New from Tricia Daniels Romance. Coming soon! I can't tell you an exact date yet, but the intended release date is May 2017.

Refusing To Expire

Love sometimes comes to us when we’ve completely given up on it.
You just have to let go of the past and accept it.

Tori Campbell has neglected her needs as a woman, for far too long. Times are tough, money is tight, and raising three boys without a positive male role model in the house is challenging. After months of online dating, she realizes that there’s a whole lot of crazy out there. Discouraged, she struggles to accept that she may spend the rest of her life alone.

Roger Ford hasn’t been lucky in love, so far. He’s looking for someone to share his life. Someone to laugh and dance with. The moment they meet and he gazes into her enchanting, green eyes, he falls hard. Everything just seems to fit. Well, almost everything.

Roger may not be the perfect man, but he is no quitter, and he’s determined to prove it.

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