Hello friends! I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) about a year after I returned home from my deployment in Iraq. My symptoms include panic attacks, nightmares, exaggerated startle response, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, disorientation to time and place, insomnia, irritability, social isolation, difficulty in obtaining and maintaining gainful employment, and hallucinations. It is exhausting not only mentally but physically as well. I also suffer from psychogenic non epileptic seizures and received disability retirement when I was only 27 years old.
According to Dr. Selim Benbadis, “Psychogenic non epileptic seizures (PNES) are attacks that may look like epileptic seizures but are not caused by abnormal brain electrical discharges. Instead, they are a manifestation of psychological distress,” ( Benbadis, S.R., 2014)
I normally do not share about my PNES episodes because it is something that I am extremely embarrassed about. I have had PNES episodes in crowds, at work, waiting in line at the grocery store, and at home with no one around. It is just how my body reacts to stress. Thankfully, my husband has witnessed quite a lot of PNES episodes and knows exactly what to do. Usually, he just holds me until the episode passes or puts an ice pack on the back of my neck.
Since we moved to the farm, my PNES episodes have decreased dramatically. Being on the farm, I am away from crowds, triggers and it is where I am most comfortable. The farm is very therapeutic for me and gives me purpose, a routine and structure. For someone that has disorientation to time and place, sticking to a routine is key.
Being a farmer means I get up early and spend time outdoors, no matter the type of weather, because the animals need to be fed and watered. Even if I am having a bad day, instead of staying in bed all day and becoming further depressed, I take a walk to the barn and spend some time with the animals. The farm also gives my mind something else to focus on besides my PTSD and chronic widespread pain.
The farm has become a sanctuary for my husband and myself and we would love to share it with other disabled veterans one day. We want a safe space where veterans can come and enjoy a walk in the woods, help with a current farm project, spend the day in the garden or enjoy time with the animals. I want to share the benefits of country living and how our farm can help others.
We all have stories to tell, and this is just part of mine. If you have any questions or special inquiries, please send me an email and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you for your support! XOXO