It was a perfect day at the amusement park today. The weather was stunning and we had comp passes to Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, that we received due to being rained out on our son’s birthday back in July. We loaded up my SUV and headed to the park. My son made me PROMISE that I would ride the Thunderbird roller coaster with him (I could not do that back in June when we went to the park due to having just had my surgery and I was trying to not overdo it).

My husband and son rode the coaster together already that morning (and 7 times in the row on our visit to the park in June). Each time they went on, I worried and tried to find thing to stay busy such as browsing the gift shop or checking my social media. Anything that would distract my brain from its racing thoughts.

God I used to LOVE roller coasters.  I could ride them all day long and care less about any other ride in the park. I loved the rush of adrenaline they gave me and the faster and twistier the better! But not anymore. Not today. As has happened many times before, the thoughts of what could go wrong took over.

What if the ride attendant did not check his harness? What if he fell out? What if the ride derailed? What if…

As we rode the roller coaster together I closed my eyes and the insane thoughts of death just raced through my head the whole time the ride was taking place and even though the ride is quite short is felt like an eternity until it came to an end. It felt like the longest 1 minute and 18 seconds ever.

I put on a fake smile for my son (who was grinning from ear to ear that mommy rode the coaster with him) when we got off the ride. My husband joked about the horrible face I was making in the coaster photo – which regardless of my panic I’m sorry but those photos never look good – I don’t care who you are!

This my friends is part of my struggle with PTSD and Hypervigilance.  A struggle that so many, even my husband, cannot possibly understand.

I am a wife, mom, blogger, hunting lodge chef and a successful entrepreneur …. and I also struggle with mental illness. I am real. This is real. I know that I have a fabulous life, a life to be very proud of and grateful for but for someone like me who suffers from PTSD, well we have a mental illness brought on by life stress that our bodies are not meant to handle (and usually by a life event that we wish we never had to experience – for me that was the loss of our other son, Austin).

PTSD steals your joy at unexpected moments, it impairs your ability to function, and often takes over your life. I am the face of someone who has PTSD, Hypervigilance, Depression and Anxiety attacks. But, I am also someone who is not willing to go down without a fight. Mental illness like this will lie to you and tell you that no one knows what you are feeling.

Why Do I share this with you?! Am I looking for a pity party?! Absolutely NOT! I share this because if I can help one person out there see hope, and see a fighter, they too will know they are not alone and that someone really does understand their journey. I am looking for the “me too’s” out there.

There are many reasons someone lives a “new normal”. This is mine. Never judge someone or make assumptions about them (even one who is close to you) because you can never truly know the struggles they feel if they have gone through a major life event.

Do you have something that happened in your life that caused you to adjust to a new normal?